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.”
12:39 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
US Congress poised to pass 2 bills targeting Russia
From CNN's Daniella Diaz and Alex Rogers and Kristin Wilson
The US Congress is poised to pass two bipartisan bills in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the latest move for lawmakers before they're set to begin a two-week recess on Friday.
Moments from now the House will take up both bills just passed in the Senate:
The first to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, punishing the countries for the invasion by paving the way for higher tariffs on imports from them.
The second, a bill to prohibit energy imports from Russia, including oil, coal and natural gas.
The Senate unanimously passed the two bills Thursday morning.
The Senate had been mired for weeks over Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's objections to proposed changes to the Magnitsky Act, fearing that the new language would give too much power to the executive branch to pursue those accused of human rights abuses.
The Senate eventually gave in to Paul's demands, retaining the more narrowly defined statute regarding human rights violations, but made the language permanent despite the wishes of some Republicans.
The trade relations bill is the latest effort by Congress to crack down on Russia and help Ukraine. On Wednesday night, the Senate passed a bill to more quickly provide military aid to Ukraine.
Once the House passes the Senate-passed bills, they'll be sent to US President Joe Biden's desk for signature, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's office.
CNN's Manu Raju, Betsy Klein, Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins contributed reporting to this post.
12:28 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
US Defense secretary says US is giving intel to Ukraine for operations in Donbas
From CNN's Oren Liebermann, Barbara Starr and Katie Bo Lillis
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said publicly for the first time that the US is providing intelligence to Ukrainian forces to conduct operations in the Donbas region.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Austin was asked whether the US was providing intelligence to help Ukraine carry out attacks against Russian forces in the occupied Donbas region or occupied Crimea.
“We are providing them a … intelligence to conduct such operations … in the Donbas. That’s correct,” Austin said in response to the question from Sen. Tom Cotton. Austin did not mention Crimea in his response. He also stated the US is not discouraging Ukraine from launching attacks against Russian forces in these areas.
Why this matters: It is the first time a US official has publicly acknowledged the US role in Ukraine’s operations in the contested region as the fighting shifts away from the capital of Kyiv and towards southeast Ukraine.
“We continue to provide useful information and intelligence to the Ukrainian Armed Forces in their fight,” a senior defense official told CNN Thursday after Austin’s remarks. “As that fight migrates more to the Donbas region, we will adjust our information content and flow as required.”
Austin then said at the hearing that the Pentagon would send “updated guidance” today, but he does not explicitly say what the guidance would entail.
Cotton asked if the current guidance is not to provide such intelligence to Ukraine.
“Certainly, the current guidance was not clear in that regard, so we’ll make sure it’s clear,” answered Austin.
Earlier this month, the White House acknowledged that the US has sent “a significant amount of detailed, timely intelligence” to Ukraine regarding Russia’s plans and movements.
1:30 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022
UNGA suspends Russia from Human Rights Council
From CNN’s Richard Roth and Samantha Beech
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.”
The General Assembly needed to vote in favor by two-thirds to remove Russia from the council.
The Deputy Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Gennady Kuzmin said Russia considers the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on the suspension of its membership in the Human Rights Council “an illegitimate and politically motivated step." Kuzmin also claimed it is Russia that decided to end or suspend its membership in the council before the end of its term on the Thursday.
Before the vote, China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun said the country would vote against the move.
“Dealing with the membership of the Human Rights Council in such a way will set new dangerous precedent” and “produce serious consequences," Zhang said speaking at the UNGA on Thursday.
“China calls on all parties to work together in the same direction so as to create opportunities for peace and prospects for negotiation. China will continue to hold an objection and impartial position and play a responsible and constructive role in this regard," Zhang added.