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."
3:10 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Germany intercepted radio transmissions of Russian troops discussing killing Ukrainian civilians, source says
From CNN's Luke McGee, Nathan Hodge, Lauren Kent, Claudia Otto, and Nadine Schmidt
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.
The briefing was the top item at the Wednesday meeting, the source added.
Der Spiegel reported that the BND, Germany's foreign intelligence agency, intercepted Russian radio chatter about the killing of civilians in Bucha, and that some of the conversations could be tied directly to specific killings in Bucha that have been documented since news first emerged of an apparent massacre there.
German intelligence has satellite images that point to the involvement of Russian troops in the Bucha killings, the Washington Post reported, citing an unnamed intelligence official, though the paper said the radio transmissions have not been linked to that location.
Russian official accuses Ukraine of changing demands since the 2 sides met in Istanbul
From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova iand Martin Goillandeau
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Ukrainian negotiators of changing the most important provisions that both sides had agreed upon during Russia-Ukraine talks in Istanbul last month.
Lavrov said that a draft agreement presented on Wednesday by Ukrainian negotiators “showed a departure from the most important provisions fixed at the meeting in Istanbul,” adding that the new Ukrainian draft agreement did not include an earlier proposal by Kyiv to exclude Crimea and Sebastopol from the future security guarantees Ukraine is demanding.
Lavrov also said Ukrainians suggested that “the problems of Crimea and Donbas should be brought to the meeting of the presidents of Russia and Ukraine,” a proposal deemed “unacceptable” by Russia, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly stated that such a meeting is possible only after the cessation of hostilities.
"At the next stage, the Ukrainian side will certainly ask for the withdrawal of troops and will put forward new preconditions," Lavrov said.
According to the Russian Foreign Minister, the Ukrainian side has also changed its stance on a provision that Moscow could oppose any future military maneuvers involving foreign forces in Ukrainian territory.
Lavrov said that the inability to find a negotiated agreement with Ukraine “demonstrates the true intentions of Kyiv, its line to drag on and even make the negotiations fail, rejecting the agreements that had been found.”
“We see this as a manifestation of the fact that the Kyiv regime is controlled by Washington and its allies, who are pushing President Zelensky to continue hostilities,” he added.
Lavrov said the Russian delegation would “continue the negotiation process,” promoting its draft agreement, which according to Lavrov “clearly and in full, sets out all the key positions and demands.”
Lavrov did not reveal the details of that draft agreement.
2:15 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
All hospitals in Ukraine's Luhansk region destroyed, official says
From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Mia Alberti
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.
In the same post, the leader posted several pictures of the damaged Rubizhne hospital, a medical facility that was "new" and filled with "high-tech equipment.”
Gaida accused that hospital's chief doctor of treason after he agreed with Russia's statement that Ukrainian forces were behind the destruction of that facility.
1:27 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Kremlin spokesperson admits to "significant" Russian troop losses in Ukraine
From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau
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.”
“We have significant losses of troops and it’s a huge tragedy for us,” Peskov admitted, adding that the reason for Russia’s withdrawal from the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions was “an act of goodwill during the negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations.”
The Kremlin spokesperson added that Russia did so to “lift tension from those regions in order to show Russia is really ready to create comfortable conditions for the continuation of the negotiations.”