More than 2.5 million refugees have crossed into Poland from Ukraine, says the Polish Border Guard
From CNN's Benjamin Brown in London and Anna Odzeniak in Poland
More than 2.5 million refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine have crossed the border into Poland, the Polish Border Guard said on Thursday.
While it is unclear how many of the 2.5 million refugees are still in Poland, an interior ministry spokesperson told CNN on Thursday that 700,000 Ukrainians had registered in a Polish database allowing refugees to take up employment or continue their education.
Those registering for the database "are mainly people who wish to stay in Poland," the spokesperson added.
More than 4.3 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion started on February 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
In addition, more than 7.1 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine having been forced to flee their homes, according to the latest International Organization for Migration report.
5:37 a.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Three cruise missiles shot down near Zaporizhzhia
From CNN's Ivan Watson and Khrystyna Bondarenko in Zaporizhzhia
Ukraine's anti-air defense shot down three cruise missiles Wednesday night, Secretary of Zaporizhzhia City Council Anatoly Kurtev announced on Telegram.
A CNN team in Zaporizhzhia heard what sounded like an aircraft and one loud explosion around 11 p.m. local time Wednesday.
Some context: The pace of civilian evacuations from the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia has escalated in the past week, after the nearby nuclear power station in Enerhodar was captured by Russian soldiers.
In a Facebook post last week, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russian troops of committing a "terror attack" by intentionally firing at the power plant -- potentially risking the lives of millions.
5:31 a.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Curfews announced around Bucha to enable demining and curb looting, says Ukrainian official
From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko in Vasylkiv
Curfews have been announced in the vicinity of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, due to looting, a senior Ukrainian official said Thursday, adding that the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance remained a problem in areas recently wrested from Russian control.
"A curfew for seven days is imposed in a number of settlements of Bucha district ... this is done for only two reasons," said Vadym Denysenko, adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister. "The first is demining. The second is really to avoid looting, because looters are appearing in these areas. Of course, the police alone will not be able to cope. "That is why we are working here with the Territorial Defense, local authorities and local residents who have remained in these areas."
An official statement from the Kyiv region's military governor announced a stricter curfew in Hostomel, near Bucha, ending at 6 a.m. local time on April 14.
Denysenko suggested that the Ukrainian government faces a staggering task to collect and dispose of mines and unexploded ordnance.
"In the Kyiv region alone, more than 1,500 explosive devices were demined yesterday," he said. "That is only in Kyiv region. And we are talking about Kyiv region, Chernihiv region, Sumy region -- all the territories that we managed to liberate."
5:05 a.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Australia prepares more deliveries of lethal aid to Ukraine
"Australia has delivered five C-17 loads of military support -- lethal and non-lethal -- to Ukraine. We're in the process of preparing the Bushmasters that President Zelensky requested in his address to our parliament -- his momentous address -- last week. They will be transported as soon as possible," Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that additional military assistance would be sent to Ukraine following Zelensky's impassioned speech to the nation’s parliament last Thursday.
The new package includes, "tactical decoys, unmanned aerial and unmanned ground systems, rations and medical supplies," according to a statement from Morrison's office.
In February, the Australian government committed to providing lethal and non-lethal military equipment, medical supplies, and financial assistance to support Ukraine, as well as contributing $3 million in US dollars to NATO’s Trust Fund. Since then, shipments of lethal aid -- including missiles, ammunition, and armored vehicles -- have made their way into the country.
Australia has provided close to $70 million in US dollars in lethal aid to Ukraine since the war began.
4:41 a.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Australia imposes new sanctions and travel bans targeting top Russian officials
From CNN's Lizzy Yee in Hong Kong
Australia unveiled new sanctions on 67 Russian officials on Thursday, bringing the total number of sanctioned "individuals and entities" since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine "close to 600," according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The latest sanctions target prominent Russian businessmen, as well as senior military and government officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Grigorenko, Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov, and senior Russian politician Alexander Babakov.
Among those in the latest listings is Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, named responsible for attacks on "innocent civilians," including the "bombing of the theater" in Mariupol.
"This latest round of sanctions follows the emergence of evidence of war crimes committed by Russia in Bucha and other towns around Kyiv," the statement said. "Australia condemns these atrocities in the strongest possible terms."
"The horror is almost unspeakable, and we see it every day. But I do think Australians can be proud of the effort that our country is making to support Ukraine," Foreign Minister Marise Payne told local radio station 2GB.
Some background: A chorus of world leaders have called for increased sanctions and war crimes investigations on Russia, following the alleged atrocities in the town of Bucha, northwest of the capital Kyiv.
Shortly after the withdrawal of Russian troops from Bucha, civilian bodies were found strewn across a street and a mass grave was discovered, with the mayor of the town saying that there could be up to 300 victims buried on site.
On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden declared "major war crimes" were being discovered in Ukraine as the White House announced new sanctions on Russia's largest financial institutions and a number of individuals tied to the Kremlin -- including Russian President Vladimir Putin's two adult daughters.
3:50 a.m. ET, April 7, 2022
EU's top diplomat hopes latest round of Russian sanctions will be agreed upon by Friday
From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy
The European Union’s top diplomat has expressed his hope that the bloc’s fifth round of sanctions against Russia will be agreed by Thursday or Friday.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said the bloc is still looking at “the list of people and the sectors affected” but will hopefully agree on the final measures by “this afternoon or tomorrow at the latest,” he told reporters on his way into a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Thursday.
On Tuesday, the bloc announced proposed plans for a five-pillar package of sanctions, including a ban on Russian coal imports and a full transaction ban on four key Russian banks.
A potential embargo on Russian oil “will be discussed on Monday” at the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Borrell said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament on Wednesday the fifth package “will not be our last sanctions.”
"Yes, we've now banned coal, but now we have to look into oil," she said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister's agenda at NATO meeting is "weapons, weapons and weapons"
From CNN's James Frater and Nic Robertson at NATO Headquarters in Brussels
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba spoke at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, where NATO and G7 foreign ministers are meeting this week to discuss sanctions against Russia and ways to support Ukraine.
“My agenda is very simple. It has only three items on it. It's weapons, weapons and weapons,” Kuleba told reporters.
Providing Ukraine with weapons was the best way to “contain Putin and to defeat Russian army in Ukraine, in the territory of Ukraine so that the war does not spill over further,” Kuleba said.
“The Ukrainian army and the entire Ukrainian nation has demonstrated that we know how to fight. We know how to win. “The more weapons we get, and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more human lives will be saved, the more cities and villages will not be destructed, and there will be no more Buchas.”
He called on NATO and G7 Foreign Ministers to “put aside their hesitations, their reluctance to provide Ukraine with everything it needs,” concluding that “as weird as it may sound, today weapons serve the purpose of peace.”
Speaking beside Kuleba, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO countries “are providing equipment support to you to uphold your right for self defense, which is enshrined in the UN Charter and it is an urgent need to further support Ukraine.”
Stoltenberg said he was certain that NATO will “address the need for more air defense systems, anti-tank weapons, lighter but also heavier weapons, and many different types of support to Ukraine.”
Ukraine-US meeting: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Kuleba on Thursday, according to the US State Department's public schedule.
Blinken on Wednesday met with his NATO counterparts, plus foreign ministers from countries including Australia and Japan.
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler contributed to this post.
3:08 a.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Austria expels four Russian diplomats
From CNN’s Wayne Chang
Austria declared four Russian diplomats "personae non gratae" and expelled them for conducting activities not "in accordance with their diplomatic status,” Austria’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday in a statement.
They are required to leave the country by April 12 at the latest, according to the statement.
Three of the diplomats were staffers at Russia’s Embassy in Vienna and the other was a staff member at Russia’s consulate in Salzburg, the ministry said.
Some context: Multiple European nations have expelled Russian diplomats in the past week, including Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Sweden.
The expulsion of Russian diplomats is a “short-sighted step” that will “inevitably lead to retaliatory steps,” the Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Tuesday.
3:06 a.m. ET, April 7, 2022
Japan condemns Russian threat of sanctions countermeasures
From CNN's Junko Ogura and Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo
Any Russian countermeasures against Japan in response to sanctions imposed on Moscow by Tokyo would be "unacceptable," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.
"This whole situation stems from Russia's aggression against Ukraine. Any response that attempts to shift responsibility to Japan is extremely unjustified and unacceptable," Matsuno told a news conference Thursday..
Matsuno's remarks came after Russian Foreign Ministry official Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that Moscow was considering countermeasures against Tokyo, which has imposed a series of sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Japan's government "is stoking anti-Russian hysteria in Japanese society," Zakharova told reporters at a news conference. She also criticized Japan for "obediently following instructions received from across the ocean" and said Tokyo was undermining Russia-Japan relations.
“The current Japanese authorities are consistently destroying the positive mutually beneficial cooperation that was carefully created over many years by their predecessors,” Zakharova said.
Some context: Last month, Russia's Foreign Ministry said it would suspend peace treaty talks to formally end World War II hostilities between Moscow and Tokyo due to the sanctions over Ukraine.
"Under the current conditions Russia does not intend to continue negotiations with Japan on a peace treaty," the Russian Foreign Ministry said at the time, citing Japan's "openly unfriendly positions and attempts to damage the interests of our country."
The Kuril Islands, referred to as the Southern Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan, were captured by Soviet forces following Japan's surrender to Allied Forces in 1945. The resulting disagreement over who has rightful ownership of the islands has soured relations between the two countries, contributing to their continued failure to sign a World War II peace treaty.