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.
7:46 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
US calls Russia's suspension from the Human Rights Council "an important and historic moment"
From CNN’s Richard Roth and Samantha Beech in New York
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, has called Russia’s suspension from the Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly “an important and historic moment.”
As the final speaker in the UNGA afternoon session following the vote Thursday, Thomas-Greenfield said, “Countries from around the globe have voted to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council for its gross and systematic violations of human rights. We have collectively sent a strong message that the suffering of victims and survivors will not be ignored.”
Thomas-Greenfield added, “Despite Russia’s attempt to spread disinformation we all saw the gruesome images from Bucha, Dymerka, Irpin and other recently liberated Ukrainian cities. Lifeless bodies lying in the streets, some apparently summarily executed, their hands tied behind their backs. Mass graves. Burnt bodies. Executions. We’ve seen credible reports of landmines and booby traps left behind by Putin’s forces to injure even more civilians after Russia failed in its objectives and withdrew."
"I shudder to think what we will find in other towns across Ukraine, as President Zelensky ominously warned us in the Security Council, in the weeks ahead," she added.
Thomas-Greenfield cited a photo taken by an AP photojournalist in Kyiv, which she said struck her in particular. “It’s of a six-year-old boy, standing in a garden next to his mother’s grave. It struck me because, one day, Ukraine’s infrastructure will be rebuilt and the rubble will be cleared. But there will be no way to rebuild the lives that Russia has destroyed. We cannot bring back those who have perished — Ukrainian mothers, fathers, sons, daughters,” she said.
The US Ambassador said she visited with women and children who shared heartbreaking stories of Russia’s violence, when she was in Moldova and Romania earlier this week.
“They spoke about losing relatives and loved ones, fleeing the only home they had ever known. Despite everything that they had been through, they were determined to carry on and to return home to a peaceful Ukraine. We must continue to show similar determination to stop their suffering, to hold Russia accountable. To end this war. After all, this is not only about accountability for Russia, its about standing with the people of Ukraine. And it’s about the credibility of the UN," she said.
Thomas-Greenfield said, “Right now, the world is looking to us. They are asking if the United Nations is prepared to meet this moment. They are wondering if we are a platform for propaganda and a safe haven for human rights abusers — or if we are prepared to live up to our highest ideals, enshrined in the UN Charter. Today, the international community took one collective step in the right direction. We ensured a persistent and egregious human rights violator will not be allowed to occupy a position of leadership on human rights at the UN.”
“Let us continue to hold Russia accountable for this unprovoked, unjust, unconscionable war and to do everything in our power to stand with the people of Ukraine,” she said.
5:07 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Zelensky calls on diplomatic missions to come back to Kyiv: "We need your support"
From CNN's Hira Humayun
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for more diplomatic missions and embassies to return to Kyiv, and thanked Turkey and Lithuania for returning.
“Embassies are coming back to Kyiv,” he said, before thanking the ones that have already returned.
“We need your support, even at the level of symbols and diplomatic gestures,” he said, “Please come back, everybody who is brave, please come back to our capital and continue working,” the Ukrainian president said.
He told diplomatic foreign missions in Kyiv that this is a “signal to Russia that Kyiv is ours.”
“This is the capital — this is not a provincial town from Russia, but this is our city,” Zelensky said.
He added that Russian troops are becoming more active in Donbas and that Ukrainian will fight bravely.
4:45 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Ukrainian official: 4,676 people evacuated through corridors on Thursday
From CNN's Hira Humayun
On Thursday, 4,676 people were evacuated via evacuation corridors, according to a Facebook post from Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.
She said 3,256 people came from Mariupol and Berdiansk. Of those, 1,205 are from Mariupol and 2,050 are from the towns of Polohy, Vasylivka, Berdiansk and Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhia region
A column of nine buses is heading to Melitopol to help with evacuation and deliver humanitarian assistance, and will take people on the way back to Zaporizhzhia.
Two buses arrived at Tomak city on Thursday and will head to Zaporizhzhia on Friday. Also on Friday, buses will be sent from Zaporizhzhia to evacuate people from Berdiansk, Vereshchuk said.
The deputy prime minister added that 1,420 people were evacuated from the cities of Lisichansk, Severodonetsk, Rubížne and Kreminna in Luhansk region on Thursday.
4:21 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
European Union approves fifth round of sanctions against Russia
From CNN's CNN's James Frater in Brussels and Chris Liakos in London
The European Union on Thursday approved a fifth round of sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, according to the French Presidency of the Council of Europe.
The new measures include ban on imports of Russian coal as well as embargo on arms exports to Russia.
It also include the closing of EU ports to Russian vessels and a ban on exports of high-tech products to Moscow.
The legal text including the names of the “oligarchs, Russian propaganda actors, members of the security and military apparatus and entities in the industrial and technological sector” will be formally published Friday.
3:54 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
It's almost 11 p.m. in Kyiv. Here are the latest developments on the war in Ukraine.
If you're just catching up now, here are some of the latest developments from the war in Ukraine:
Luhansk hospitals destroyed: All medical institutions and hospitals in the Luhansk region, in eastern Ukraine, have been destroyed by the Russian forces, the head of the Luhansk state administration said on Thursday. "Since the beginning of the full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine, every medical institution in our region has been shelled," Sergey Gaidai wrote on Facebook.
Germany intercepts key radio communications: Germany's foreign intelligence service told a parliamentary committee Wednesday that it has intercepted radio communications where Russian soldiers talked about shooting soldiers and civilians in Ukraine, a source with knowledge of the meeting said.
Russia targets Facebook accounts: Facebook parent company Meta detailed Thursday an array of shady cyber tactics that it says groups linked to Russia and Belarus are using to target Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. The tactics the groups are using include posing as journalists and independent news outlets online to push Russian talking points, attempting to hack dozens of Ukrainian soldiers' Facebook accounts, and running coordinated campaigns to try to get posts by critics of Russia removed from social media, according to Meta.
Russia admits to "significant" troop losses: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov briefly admitted Thursday that Russia had suffered “significant” losses of its troops in Ukraine, calling the losses “a huge tragedy” for the country in an interview with Sky News. Asked whether the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kyiv and its region could be seen as “a humiliation” for the Kremlin, Peskov said using those words would be “a wrong understanding of the situation.”
US official says this will be a "long slog": Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley said he expects Russia’s war with Ukraine to “be a long slog” as Ukraine fights to maintain its territorial integrity with no signs on the horizon that the Kremlin will stop its aggression. “I would say that 'what does winning look like?' I think winning is Ukraine remains a free and independent nation that it’s been since 1991 with their territorial integrity intact. That’s going to be very difficult. That’s going to be a long slog,” Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
UN member states vote to suspend Russia from HRC: The United Nations General Assembly has voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council during a meeting Thursday. The voting result: in favor 93; against 24; abstention 58. In a draft of the resolution, the UNGA said the General Assembly would “suspend the rights of membership in the Human Rights Council of a member of the Council that commits gross and systematic violations of human rights.”
4:13 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Human Rights Watch researcher says he's searching for evidence while investigating alleged Russian war crimes
From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury
Richard Weir, a researcher from the Crisis and Conflict division of Human Rights Watch, is in Ukraine, searching for evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces.
Earlier this week, Weir was on the ground in Bucha, where bodies of civilians were found strewn across the streets, Weir explained what kind of evidence he's searching for.
"There was a body that was here, and I'm trying to look for any physical evidence as to how she was killed or where she was killed from. And what we're seeing on the ground here are a few casings from bullets, a number of different hits on the — on the steel sheeting, which look like many of the rounds were coming into this yard or coming from this direction," he said while in Bucha.
Today, Weir told CNN's Alisyn Camerota that "the images don't even really do the situation justice" and that large parts of the city have essentially become "a crime scene,"
He continued, "As you walk through the town, particularly the street that has now become infamous because of the number of dead bodies strewn across it, even as you walk to the left or to the right, you find more bodies. In every apartment structure that we walked to, nearly every single one, there's bodies strewn about in shallow graves, or in basements, or sometimes in apartment buildings themselves on the upper floors ... It's as if the entire town, or large portions of it, are a crime scene. It's very difficult to walk around and not find some place affected by the fighting and the killing perpetrated by Russian forces when they occupied the city of Bucha."
Weir went on to say that the process of investigating and determining how civilians were killed is "meticulous."
"A lot of it is evaluating available evidence and materials, so that's what we're seeing on the ground. Some is what we've been seeing through photos and videos, trying to take and collect everything from the scene that we can visually and otherwise," he said.
Weird added, "And then one of the most important things is speaking to the witnesses. And oftentimes the witnesses of the crimes are the individuals who were related. And I've talked to a number of different family members of those that have been killed, to wives of killed men, to the fathers of men who have had to bury... in their home yard, burying your best friend, dragging him from a basement, his bloody body. And one of the most horrific things about all of this is that people are concerned that these bodies have been booby trapped as Russian forces have fled. So this creates even more complication with collecting and preserving evidence."
Asked what kind of information is needed to determined if what occurred is a war crime, Weir said, "It's a lot to put it plainly. Of course we can see that there are apparent war crimes being committed, but in order to have accountability for these war crimes that means assigning responsibility to the individuals who committed them, who directed them, who aided, assisted or abetted their commission. And that requires as much information as we possibly can. It's about putting all of the pieces together. It's about interviewing the right people. It's about collecting the right physical evidence. And ultimately it's about finding out who is responsible."
He continued, "Not just that Russian forces are responsible but the individuals who can be held responsible for the crimes committed against individual people, against husbands, wives, and children. And that's why it's important to gather and to keep gathering, to keep preserving and keep collecting this evidence so that it one day can be used at a trial and a prosecution that will hopefully help stem the tide of these horrific abuses."
3:15 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Russia circulated note threatening "consequences" ahead of UN Human Rights Council vote, sources say
From CNN's Nima Elbagir and Barbara Arvanitidis in Lviv
Russia circulated a note to member states threatening “consequences” ahead of the vote for the US-led push to suspend Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council, according to multiple sources at the council.
The note, shared with CNN, stated, "It is worth mentioning that not only support for such an initiative, but also an equidistant position in the vote (abstention or non-participation) will be considered as an unfriendly gesture."
The United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council during a meeting Thursday. The vote was 93 in favor of the move and 24 against the action, with 58 abstentions.
3:06 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Ukrainian official says Russia struck crucial railway overpass, blocking evacuation route
From CNN staff
Serhii Haidai, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said Thursday Russian forces struck a railway overpass near Barvinkove, blocking an evacuation route for civilians from eastern Ukraine.
"The enemy hit an overpass near Barvinkove station, Donetsk railway, with an air strike," Haidai said on Telegram. "Almost 500 evacuees from Luhansk region are stuck at a train station.
Haidai called the rail line the "only Ukrainian-controlled railway exit from Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Lyman. The road of life for tens of thousands of our citizens now."
Three evacuation trains were temporarily blocked in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, both in Donetsk region, Haidai said.
Ukraine authorities have reported heavy shelling throughout the eastern Donbas region, ahead of what they are warning may be a major Russian offensive.
"We are waiting for the shelling to end," Haidai said. "People are placed at the station until the situation is clarified. The local authorities of Donetsk region cities have declared their readiness to accommodate non-locals for the night."