Australia is sending 20 armored vehicles to Ukraine
From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney
Australia will send 20 of its home-built Bushmaster armored personnel carriers to Ukraine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday.
The vehicles, produced by the Australian subsidiary of French company Thales, have been painted olive green with a Ukrainian flag on the side, and the words "United With Ukraine" stenciled on the vehicles.
Two of the Bushmasters are "ambulance variants" that carry the Red Cross emblem.
The vehicles were specifically requested by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in an address to Australia’s parliament on March 31.
"The Bushmaster was built in Australia to provide protected mobility transport, safely moving soldiers to a battle area prior to dismounting for close combat," a statement from Morrison's office said Friday. "The Bushmaster is well suited to provide protection to the Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers and Ukrainian civilians against mines and improvised explosive devices, shrapnel from artillery and small arms fire."
9:10 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
EU pledges another 500 million euros in military support for Ukraine
From CNN's James Frater and Aliza Kassim
The European Union will commit a further 500 million euros ($543 million) in military support to Ukraine, European Commission President Charles Michel announced Thursday.
The pledge takes the EU's military aid to Ukraine to a total of 1.5 billion euros ($1.63 billion) since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24, he said in a tweet.
The European Peace Facility, created in 2021, is an emergency fund of 5.69 billion euros that allows the EU to quickly finance military operations and “preserve peace, prevent conflicts and strengthen international security,” according to the EU.
9:23 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Microsoft says it disrupted Russian hacking infrastructure aimed at Ukraine
From CNN's Sean Lyngaas
Microsoft used a US court order to disable seven internet domains that a hacking group linked with Russian intelligence was using to try to infiltrate Ukrainian media organizations, in a likely effort to support Russia’s war, Microsoft said Thursday.
The hacking group, best known in the US for breaching the Democratic National Committee in the 2016 election, was likely trying to use cyber intrusions to “provide tactical support for the physical invasion and exfiltrate sensitive information,” according to Microsoft.
The hackers were “also targeting government institutions and think tanks in the United States and the European Union involved in foreign policy,” Tom Burt, a corporate vice president at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.
It was not immediately clear how successful the hacking attempts were. Microsoft declined to comment beyond the blog post.
It’s the second time this week that a powerful US corporation or government agency has disclosed the use of a court order to target hackers accused of working for Russia’s military intelligence directorate, GRU.
The moves reflect US officials’ ongoing concerns about potential Russian retaliatory cyberattacks against US targets, and a more aggressive strategy to try to thwart state-backed hacking operations.
The Justice Department revealed Wednesday that it had used a court order to disrupt a network of thousands of hacked computers controlled by another GRU-linked hacking group that could have been used in a cyberattack.
That network of infected computers, known as a botnet, “was a threat to US businesses, particularly the ones who were compromised, and it required action given the current threat environment,” the Justice Department official told reporters.
Russian cyber offense: While some analysts have argued that the full scope of Russian cyber capabilities hasn’t reared its head in Ukraine during the war, Burt said Microsoft has seen “nearly all of Russia’s nation-state actors engaged in the ongoing full-scale offensive” against critical infrastructure and government organizations in Ukraine.
10:09 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Pink Floyd to release first new music in 28 years in support of Ukraine
From CNN’s Max Foster and Mia Alberti
Legendary rock band Pink Floyd is releasing a new single "Hey Hey Rise Up" on Friday in support of the people of Ukraine, the band said in a statement on Thursday.
It's the first new music from the band since 1994, and all proceeds will go to Ukrainian humanitarian relief, the statement added.
The song is performed by guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason, with bass player Guy Pratt and Nitin Sawhney on keyboard, according to the statement.
The song features vocals by Andriy Khlyvnyuk from the Ukrainian band Boombox. The band used audio of Khlyvnyuk singing in central Kyiv, where he performed "a rousing Ukrainian protest song written during the first world war which has been taken up across the world over the past month in protest" against the Russian invasion.
Gilmour, who has a Ukrainian daughter-in-law and grandchildren, said in the statement that he felt moved by Khlyvnyuk's performance "in a square in Kyiv with this beautiful gold-domed church and ... in the silence of a city with no traffic or background noise because of the war."
"It was a powerful moment that made me want to put it to music," he said.
Pink Floyd says the Ukrainian singer, who left his band to join the army, is in the hospital after being hit by shrapnel.
“We, like so many, have been feeling the fury and the frustration of this vile act of an independent, peaceful democratic country being invaded and having its people murdered by one of the world's major powers,” Gimour said. "We want to express our support for Ukraine and in that way, show that most of the world thinks that it is totally wrong for a superpower to invade the independent democratic country that Ukraine has become.”
The artwork for the single features a painting of a sunflower, Ukraine's national flower, a "direct reference" to the elderly woman who was seen giving sunflower seeds to Russian soldiers, the band said.
9:24 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
CNN boards evacuation train with more than 1,000 Ukrainian refugees
From CNN's Ivan Watson / Written by CNN's Maureen Chowdhury
More than a month since the war in Ukraine began, civilians are still fleeing. CNN's Ivan Watson boarded a train carrying more than 1,000 refugees.
Evacuees aboard the train were traveling for free, Watson reported.
"They will be traveling for the next 24 hours. This train carrying this human cargo to safety in western Ukraine. The war forced everyone here to flee their homes, including the crew of the train, had conductor Sergey Hrishenko, ran the last train out of the city of Mariupol on Feb. 25. The day after Russia launched its invasion. There had been no trains from Mariupol since, as a monthlong Russians each has destroyed much of the city," Watson reported.
Hrishenko told Watson about his experience. "My whole team, 20 conductors, everybody left with me. Many of them were made homeless, lost their apartments, some of them lost relatives."
Hrishenko said that he spent the next month living and working on the train nonstop, struggling to evacuate desperate Ukrainians trying to flee to safety. He told Watson that he estimates that during the month that he was working, they evacuated 100,000 people.
Watson spoke with Galina Bondarenko who fled her village outside the city of Zaporizhzhya with her 19-year-old son after enduring two weeks of Russian shelling. "I feel outrage. Complete outrage. And I feel fear when they are shooting," she told Watson via a translator in an interview on the train.
One woman told Watson she was able to flee after living one month under Russian occupation. She said that during that time she only went outside twice because she heard unconfirmed stories of rape.
A group of woman on the train told CNN that they saw "drunk" and "filthy" Russian soldiers asking residence for supplies, like food and toilet paper. They also put up Russian flags, the woman said.
"They think they can change our minds. Our Ukrainian minds, but it's not work like this. I want the Russian people also come back on their land. They have a lot of land, just a lot of land on the map and I hope it will be enough for them just because... just stop, please. It's very painful for everyone here. For everyone in this train and outside. It was very peaceful life without this attacks," one woman said.
Watson said the train was headed to the western city of Lviv, and he noted that the final destination of most of the refugees onboard is likely unclear.
Watch Watson's report on the train:
6:47 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
US has committed more than 12,000 anti-armor systems and "hundreds" of suicide drones to Ukraine
From CNN's Oren Liebermann
The US has committed more than 12,000 anti-armor systems, 1,400 anti-aircraft systems and “hundreds” of suicide drones to Ukraine, the Biden administration announced in a statement Thursday evening.
The update comes after the US approved on Tuesday another $100 million in weaponry for Ukraine drawn from US inventories, bringing the total US assistance to Ukraine to approximately $1.7 billion since the beginning of Russia’s invasion.
That includes $300 million approved last Friday under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, in which new weapons will be purchased from defense contractors to send to Ukraine.
The list of weapons committed to Ukraine includes the following:
More than 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems
More than 5,000 Javelin anti-armor systems
More than 7,000 other anti-armor systems
Hundreds of Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
Over 50,000,000 rounds of ammunition
45,000 sets of body armor and helmets
Laser-guided rocket systems
Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems
Night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, and optics
Commercial satellite imagery services
This does not mean all of the weapons have already arrived in Ukraine; instead, they are an update on what the US has sent in the past and has pledged to send in the future.
For example, on Wednesday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the US has sent in about 100 of the Switchblade suicide drones and is working on sending in more.
9:35 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
CNN visits Ukrainian hospital coping with deluge of wounded civilians
From CNN's Jason Kurtz
The fighting and violence in Ukraine is so prolific, hospitals are facing a deluge of civilians, often times arriving with wounds that are foreign to younger doctors. And much like in other conflicts, including in Syria, the Russians are targeting these medical facilities, so far damaging 279, and completely decimating another 19, according to the Ukrainian health minister.
CNN’s Jake Tapper visited one hospital in the western part of the country, where patients from the east and south have had to travel hundreds of miles to safely seek treatment.
Olga Zhuchenko survived seven bombs that hit her neighborhood in the Luhansk region, but now lies in a hospital bed and may never walk again.
“I have lost everything. I have lost my flat, my property, my health,” she told CNN via a translator. “We didn't expect to see it. We always have counted Russians as brotherly people. We never hoped they will exterminate us like that.”
Nearly two months into the conflict, it’s become clear that attacks on civilian neighborhoods — like the one endured by Zhuchenk — are no accident, CNN reported.
“The facts lead to only one conclusion. The Russians are purposely slaughtering Ukrainians. Moms and dads, children, grandparents,” Tapper continued.
Meanwhile, American doctors have traveled to Ukraine, hoping to offer assistance and experience earned during their time in the Middle East.
“We wanted to share information from our experiences in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Dr. John Holcomb, the professor of surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told Tapper in the hospital.
So brutal are the injuries being sustained by Ukrainian civilians that local doctors are confronted with cases unlike any they’ve ever seen.
“The injury that we have now is unbelievable,” revealed Dr. Hnat Herych, the chief of surgery at a Ukrainian hospital. He’s seen an influx of thousands of patients and has a message to share.
“I want the world to know that they need to know that the Russian forces, they don't fight with the Ukrainian army, they fight with the Ukrainian people,” he told Tapper. “They killing civilians, they killing children, they destroying our country.”
And the war is hurting Ukrainians in many ways, outside of just with bullets and bombs.
Olha Akynshyn was forced to celebrate her 45th birthday from a hospital bed, having suffered a major car accident while fleeing the Kharkiv region with her husband and son.
“We had a happy life. Everything was perfect and then everything changed very abruptly,” she told Tapper via a translator.
After hiding in a basement for a month, amid relentless shelling, Akynshyn and her family made the decision to get in their car and flee when the building next door was flattened. She had not slept for two days and was in a horrific car accident.
“We were so afraid, especially our kid was so afraid that we couldn't stay anymore,” she said.
Now Akynshyn isn’t sure she’ll ever be able to return to her old town or her old life.
“The school where my child learned has been destroyed, but I hope if our house stayed safe that we will return, rebuild. Our neighbor will rebuild our village, our town. I love my Ukraine so much, I would only want to live here in Ukraine,” she said.
6:34 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Situation in Borodianka is "much scarier" than Bucha, Zelensky says
From CNN's Mariya Knight and Hira Humayun
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said work is underway to clear rubble in the town of Borodianka and the situation there is "much scarier" than that in Bucha.
Speaking at his nightly address on Thursday night, Zelensky said, “So far, the Russian state and the Russian military are the greatest threat on the planet to freedom, to human security, to the concept of human rights as such. After Bucha, this is already obvious,” he said, adding that work to clear rubble in Borodianka has begun.
“It's much scarier there. More victims of Russian invaders," Zelensky said.
The Ukrainian president said similar atrocities were seen in Mariupol as well.
“What will happen when the world learns the whole truth about what the Russian military did in Mariupol? There, on almost every street, is what the world saw in Bucha and other towns in the Kyiv region after the withdrawal of Russian troops. The same cruelty. The same terrible crimes," he said.
Zelensky suggested that the atrocities committed by Russian forces would be used as propaganda. CNN cannot independently verify these claims.
“More and more information is coming in that Russian propagandists are preparing, so to speak, a ‘mirror response’ to the shock of all normal people from what they saw in Bucha. They are going to show the victims in Mariupol as if they were not killed by the Russian military, but by Ukrainian defenders of the city,” Zelensky said, “to do this, the occupiers collect corpses on the streets, take them out. And can be used elsewhere in accordance with the developed propaganda scenarios.”
Zelensky said every murder in Ukraine will be investigated and every looter, rapist and murderer will be found and that after what the world saw happening in Bucha, it is clear Russia “does not obey” human rights.”
“Perhaps Russia will change its attitude to human rights, but at this point in time it’s not happening,” Zelensky said.
6:25 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Ukrainian official: 26 bodies found under rubble of two houses in Borodianka
From CNN's Hira Humayun
In the town of Borodianka, 26 bodies were found under the rubble of two houses according to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova in a televised address on Thursday.
She said the town was hit by Russian airstrikes leading to a number of civilian casualties.
“Two big houses have been dismantled. Found 26 bodies. And these are only two houses. Atrocities are in fact a legal term that combines three crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. I think we need to get used to this term. This is a legal term in international criminal law. So Borodianka is an illustrative example,” she said.