The US has now sent 100 switchblade drones to Ukrainian military, Defense Department official says
From CNN'a Michael Conte
The US has sent the 100 switchblade drones that they said would be provided to the Ukrainian military, and “they’ll be getting into Ukraine quickly if they aren’t already there,” said a Defense Department official.
“We’re in discussions with the Ukrainians about future usages of switchblade drones, and of course we’ll keep that option open going forward,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.
The small, portable, so-called kamikaze drones carry warheads and detonate on impact. The smallest model can hit a target up to six miles away, according to a company that produces the drones.
Kirby also said that the US has trained “a very small number of Ukrainian soldiers who were already in the United States and had been since the fall” on the drones before they returned to Ukraine to train others.
“An individual could be suitably trained on how to use the switchblade drone in about two days or so,” said Kirby.
He also said that the US would “look at other suitable opportunities if needed to provide more training on the switchblades if it’s necessary.”
2:17 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022
US believes it can "identify the Russian units" that carried out Bucha atrocities, official says
From CNN's Barbara Starr
The US now believes “it will be able to identify the Russian units” that carried out the atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, according to a US official familiar with the latest information.
Identification of those involved “is an extremely high priority now” for the US intelligence community, the official said.
Collecting and analyzing streams of intelligence using all available tools and assets has been underway since the atrocities came to light, and the US is at the point of “narrowing down” responsibility the official said.
It’s not certain the US would announce its findings publicly and a decision could be made to leave it to Ukraine, the official said. The US is also analyzing possible indicators that more than one Russian unit or group of fighters was in Bucha during the time the atrocities occurred. The US is trying to determine if some of this happened as one Russian unit was withdrawing and another came in, the official added.
3:04 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022
International leaders condemn Russia for the atrocities in Bucha
From CNN's Mia Alberti, Simon Bouvier, Elias Lemercier, Amy Cassidy, Manveena Suri and Rhea Mogul
Leaders from around the world are strongly condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian forces following horrifying images of civilian casualties from Bucha, Ukraine.
Some leaders are labeling Putin a "war criminal" and consider the violence that occurred in the town of Bucha "genocide."
While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly accused Russian forces of committing genocide in his country, other leaders have stopped short. The claim carries a complex legal weight and investigations are underway into war crimes alleged to have been committed by Russian forces.
Here are how some leaders are reacting to the civilian casualty reports coming out of Bucha:
Polish President Andrzej Duda on Wednesday called Putin a war criminal, saying no world leader should speak to him again after the many "massacres" carried out by the Russian forces in Ukraine, including the violence in Bucha which he said, "fulfill the feature of a genocide.”
"We hear about the de-Nazification of Ukraine, it is nonsense, rubbish, blatant Russian propaganda looking for a false pretext in order to carry out a massacre and kill people, and the fact that civilians are being killed shows best what the goal of Russian invasion is: To extinguish the Ukrainian nation,” Duda told CNN’s Dana Bash in an interview in Warsaw.
The Polish leader said the scenes from Ukraine are unseen since World War II and they echo the "same model of Soviet crimes,” adding that war crimes were committed by Moscow not only in Bucha "but all over Ukraine.”
"I hope that nobody in the international community, after what we have seeing in Ukraine, will never again talk to Vladimir Putin. I hope nobody will consider him a decent and fair leader or politician simply,” he said.
France has called the deaths of civilians in Bucha “a new step in horror” and has vowed to ensure such an act “does not remain unpunished.”
France is also in favor of a tougher sanctions regime against Russia, French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said during a news conference on Wednesday.
“After these massacres, we must go further,” he said. “President [Macron] has told President Zelensky that we have no taboos in terms of sanctions, and he repeated that we are ready for drastic measures on imports of Russian coal and oil.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested Russia’s atrocities in Bucha and elsewhere are close to resembling “genocide” and vowed more sanctions are on the way.
“I’m afraid that when you look at what's happening in Bucha, the revelations that we’re seeing from what Putin has done in Ukraine, which you know, doesn’t look far short of genocide to me, it is no wonder that people are responding in the way that they are,” Johnson told reporters today.
"Once again, a large and powerful country has invaded a smaller neighbor without any justification," he tweeted. "Once again, the ground is soaked with the blood of innocent civilians. The images and testimony from Ukraine are horrific. Russian forces committed war crimes against a defenseless civilian population. I strongly condemn these war crimes."
As has been the case since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Lapid’s comments — first made while speaking alongside his Greek and Cypriot counterparts — were in marked contrast to those of Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. While Bennett also condemned the killings in Bucha, he did not blame Russia.
"We are shocked by the horrific pictures coming out of Bucha, terrible scenes, and we strongly condemn them," Bennett said after addressing Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. "The images are very harsh. The suffering that the Ukrainian people are facing is huge and we are doing all that we can to help."
India’s ambassador to the United Nations condemned the killings of civilians in Bucha, marking a noticeable shift in Indian officials’ public approach to the invasion of Ukraine by its long-time partner Russia.
T.S. Tirumurti, India's permanent representative to the UN, called reports of the killings “deeply disturbing” during a UN Security Council meeting Tuesday.
“We unequivocally condemn these killings and support the call for an open investigation,” Tirumurti said, without naming Russia. “The situation in Ukraine has not shown any significant improvement since the Council last discussed the issue. The situation has only deteriorated, as well as its humanitarian consequences,” he said.
1:34 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022
UNGA plans to hold a vote on whether to suspend Russia from Human Rights Council
From CNN's Liam Reilly, Emmet Lyons and Claire Calzonetti
A vote on whether or not to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council will happen on Thursday, the spokesperson for the president of the United Nations General Assembly said.
The UN General Assembly will resume its Emergency Special Session Thursday morning. The meeting will be open and speeches will be available on camera through UNTV, Paulina Kubiak Greer said.
The United States ambassador to the United Nations made a case for seeking the suspension of Russia from the Human Rights Council in front of the UN Security Council Tuesday, something she and other UN member states are calling for.
“Russia should not have a position of authority in a body whose purpose — whose very purpose — is to promote respect for human rights,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said addressing the council Tuesday. “Russia’s participation on the Human Rights Council hurts the council’s credibility. It undermines the entire UN. And it is just plain wrong.”
The Human Rights Council sits in Geneva. The UN General Assembly would need to vote in favor by two-thirds to remove Russia from the HRC.
The US Ambassador to the United Nations told CNN on Wednesday that she is confident that the US has the support from other member states required to suspend Russia from the UN’s Human Rights Council.
“We've been working very hard since this war started to build a coalition of countries who are prepared to condemn Russia," Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. "I know that we’ll get the two thirds required to win this."
1:30 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022
Blocking Russian oil exports would send prices "skyrocketing," US Treasury secretary says
From CNN’s Matt Egan
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned lawmakers on Wednesday that a complete ban on Russian oil would cause significant pain for consumers around the world.
“The issue with blocking oil exports from Russia is that many countries, especially in Europe, are very dependent on that oil,” Yellen said during the hearing. “And we’re likely to see skyrocketing prices if we did put a complete ban on oil."
Yellen said that because demand for oil is generally steady, too many restrictions on supply can have “very large price effects.”
“In designing sanctions, we want to impose the maximum pain we can on Russia, but also taking care not to impose undue pain on Americans” and our partners, Yellen said.
Meanwhile, oil company executives pledged during the hearing Wednesday to move quickly to cut ties with Russia and defended their investments in the country.
“It’s rather complex because we are operating offshore rigs in deep waters and environmentally-sensitive areas,” Woods said during the hearing. “We are working our way through that as expeditiously as possible.”
Chevron CEO Mike Wirth was asked to commit to terminating all operations in Russia, including supplying Russian companies with lubricants and other materials. “We’ve halted all those sales, and for the foreseeable future, there is no way those will resume,” Wirth said.
David Lawler, the president of BP America, said that within 96 hours of the invasion, his company announced its intention to exit its stake in Russia’s Rosneft, taking a write down of up to $25 billion. “BP was horrified with the military action in the war against Ukraine,” Lawler said. “The company is quite serious about our response.”
Gretchen Watkins, the president of Shell USA, said Shell has stopped buying all spot crude and all spot liquefied natural gas (LNG). Watkins said the company is moving as “fast as we possibly can” to fully divest from Russia
CNN’s Anneken Tappe contributed to this report.
1:39 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022
Countries to release an additional 60 million barrels of oil from storage, IAE says
From CNN’s Zeena Saifi and Chris Liakos
Countries are moving ahead to release an additional 60 million barrels of oil storage — in addition to 60 million barrels contributed by the US — as part of its overall draw from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, said Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of The International Energy Agency (IEA.)
Last week, the US released a record-shattering 180 million barrels of oil.
US Presidential Coordinator for Global Energy Security Amos Hochstein told CNN earlier that the United States and Europe are working “around the clock” to make sure pressure continues to build on Vladimir Putin, but that all costs can’t be mitigated.
“President Biden has been very clear that when you're in a war like this, initiated by Putin and Russia, there are going to be costs. We can't mitigate all the costs, but what we're doing is working together as an international community to do as much as we can to mitigate,” he told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an interview.
Hochstein highlighted the unity between the US and Europe in the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but said both sides don’t need to enact the same sanctions package, because of “different circumstances”, alluding to Europe’s heavy reliance on Russian gas.
Executive Director of the IEA Fatih Birol tweeted:
“The @IEA is moving ahead with a collective oil stock release of 120 million barrels (including 60 million barrels contributed by the US as part of its overall draw from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve). More details of specific contributions will be made public soon.”
Washington has so far tapped oil reserves from its emergency stockpile twice this year, but that has done little to cool prices since the start of Russia’s invasion. Amos Hochstein told CNN prices are now back to $100 a barrel, down from $130, which marks a “significant reduction in price”.
“Just a few weeks ago, some of the leading banks in the United States and around the world predicted $185 a barrel of oil, which would have been very disruptive to our economy, and we're now talking about lower prices. So it's not about bringing the price down to where we wish it was, but making sure that it is lower than it was before and changing the trajectory from increasing to holding steady," said Hochstein.
"We will continue to work to make sure that we have diversified our resources away from Russia, and we have to use every crisis as an opportunity to realize where our threats are. We’re vulnerable, and we need to start reducing our demand on oil altogether,” he continued.
1:13 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022
Lebanon "struggling" to find wheat market alternatives as Ukraine war hits commodity reserves, official says
From CNN's Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi
Lebanon, which lost its wheat reserves following the 2020 Beirut port blast, is struggling to find new markets that meet its bread qualifications due to the war on Ukraine, the country's minister of trade and economy told CNNs Becky Anderson.
Lebanon imports 80% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, and is “the most vulnerable state” in the Middle East and North Africa region due to its weakened economy, said the trade and economy minister, Amin Salam.
“We have been in touch with a number of countries, including the US, France, India, Kazakhstan … because we really need small quantities in Lebanon given the size of the population,” Salam said.
The minister said the country is looking for support from these wheat producers as it struggles with challenges related to the economy and low purchasing power.
“Lebanon has not recovered yet from the global inflation on food and commodities after Covid-19, now we have this issue that adds another layer of difficulty at a time where Lebanon is struggling with the economy," Salam said.
An International Monetary Fund negotiating delegation is currently in Lebanon meeting officials in extensive meetings to reach an agreement for an economic rescue deal, Salam said.
“We are hoping that we will have very soon a staffing agreement in place,” he said.
“We know that our national reserves are at a very difficult place, but we are very confident that the IMF agreement will help Lebanon get out of the crisis," Salam said.
Salam denied that Lebanon’s Central Bank is bankrupt but it is at a stage that is looking at the national reserves directly impacting all depositors.
“That it is why it is very important to put IMF together now to avoid getting into this difficult spot,” he said.
12:59 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022
US ambassador to the UN says China is "uncomfortable" in supporting Moscow
From CNN’s Emmet Lyons and Claire Calzonetti
The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told CNN on Wednesday that Beijing is “uncomfortable” in supporting Russia in relation to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I can tell you that they're [China] uncomfortable in this position, and you will note that in most of the votes they abstained, they did not vote with Russia, they abstained,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview.
“While some abstentions were a disappointment, a China abstention was seen as an important message that China is not full bore on Russia’s side in this unconscionable war against Ukraine,” she added.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for Russia to be removed as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and questioned whether the institution was fit for purpose.
“It is obvious that the key institution of the world designed to combat aggression and ensure peace cannot work effectively,” Zelensky said, addressing the council directly via videolink.
Speaking to Amanpour from her UN office in New York, Thomas-Greenfield said that she understood the Ukrainian leader’s frustration and acknowledged that the security council has been unable to stop the war. However, she said that the council should be “recognized” for isolating Russia.
“Their veto does not veto the ability for us to call them out. The fact that President Zelensky was able to speak to the security council with Russia sitting in the room and see that horrific film that he showed, shows the power of the council, that we are able to call them out, to condemn them, to isolate them before the world so they don't use this platform as a permanent member of the security council to press their propaganda,” the ambassador said.
“No one believes it. There were 14 countries speaking yesterday, all 14 countries called for Russia to cease this effort against Ukraine. So while we can't stop the war, we can make it very difficult for Russia to sit comfortably in this council and promote the lies and the propaganda,” she continued.
The ambassador said that Russia’s aggression has led to a united front among NATO countries and “a strong coalition of condemnation.”
“I don't think Russia is winning this propaganda war. They are succeeding inside their own country, and we have to make a greater effort to get information in to Russians themselves, so they know their young boys are dying, their bodies are being left in the streets, they are not being brought home. That's the message we have to get to the Russian people,” she told Amanpour.
Amanpour asked Thomas-Greenfield about the UN Security Council’s historic failures, and cited Srebrenica, a town that the security council had designated a “safe area” under UN protection before it fell to Bosnian Serb forces in 1995. When pressed on whether she thinks about these failures when addressing the issue of Ukraine, the US ambassador said that it goes through her mind “every single day.”
“We cannot make any mistakes here, we have to keep pressure on Russia, we have to call out what they are doing,” she told CNN, adding that “We know that they are committing war crimes.”
12:09 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022
Head of Kharkiv military administration announces evacuation of 2 cities
From CNN's Julia Presniakova in Lviv
Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, said Wednesday authorities would evacuate two towns in the southern part of the region, Lozova and Barvinkove, as a precaution amid escalating fighting in eastern Ukraine.
"We will centrally evacuate those cities in coordination with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in particular in the Izium direction: Lozova city, Barvinkove city — in order to prevent and possibly reduce casualties among civilians in the event of relocation of active hostilities to the vicinity of these settlements," he said.
Russia was focusing efforts to surround Ukraine's Joint Forces Operation troops in the country's east and capture the city of Kharkiv, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said earlier this week.
Syniehubov said no decision had been made for the centralized evacuation of the city of Kharkiv.