April 7, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Travis Caldwell, Jessie Yeung, Sana Noor Haq and Ben Church, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, April 8, 2022
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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

A Ukrainian serviceman walks amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha on Wednesday, April 6.
A Ukrainian serviceman walks amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha on Wednesday, April 6. (Felipe Dana/AP)

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 testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Thursday, April 7.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Thursday, April 7. (Sarah Silbiger/Reuters)

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

Ukraine's Ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya speaks during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.
Ukraine's Ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya speaks during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. (John Minchillo/AP)

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.

11:31 a.m. ET, April 7, 2022

Estonia is prepared to stop importing Russian gas "within this year," foreign minister says

From CNN’s Livvy Doherty & Chris Liakos in London

Estonia wants to end its reliance on Russian gas “within this year,” Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets told CNN Thursday.

The images of civilian killings from Bucha had “changed public opinion in our societies and because of that, we go quickly forward with these decisions to end financial flows to Russia," Liimets said.

The Foreign Minister said it was “unfortunate” to see the European Union had paid €35 billion for Russian energy since the start of the war, calling it “unproportionally big” compared to the financial support given to Ukraine.

The government said Thursday that it made a decision in principle that Estonia would stop importing Russian gas this year.

Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications announced earlier today that Estonia and Finland had agreed to a joint leasing of a floating LNG terminal, guaranteeing a supply for both countries without relying on Russia.

“The supply of natural gas to both Estonia and Finland is highly reliant on Russia, and given the uncertain times we are facing, that means we have to cover our backs and make preparations to do without Russian gas altogether,” Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas said in a statement.

Highlighting the need for such an agreement, the statement said “almost half a year’s consumption would not be covered if the supply lines were cut.”

The floating terminal is planned to be in place by the fall.

11:31 a.m. ET, April 7, 2022

Russia calls on UN members to reject resolution suspending country from Human Rights Council

From CNN staff

The Deputy Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Gennady Kuzmin called upon all United Nations member states to reject the resolution suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council, calling the draft resolution “a dangerous precedent."

Kuzmin was the second speaker at the UN General Assembly Thursday morning, following the representative from Ukraine. 

“Today is not the time nor the place for theatrics," he said. "The draft resolution we are considering today has no relationship to the actual human rights situation on the ground.” 

The vote on suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council “is an attempt by the United States to maintain its dominate position and total control to continue its attempt at human rights colonialism in international relations," the Russian representative said. “The possible exclusion of the Russian Federation from the Human Rights Council could be a dangerous precedent."

Russia “has consistently defended the principle of cooperation based on mutual respect and equal status as one of the main foundations of the human rights architecture," he claimed.

The Russian representative said his country “reject the untruthful allegations against us based on staged events and widely circulated fakes.”

11:09 a.m. ET, April 7, 2022

Ukraine continues to negotiate with Russia "to prevent more Buchas," foreign minister says 

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler in Brussels

Ukraine continues to negotiate with Russia “to prevent more Buchas,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, and again called on the international community to increase pressure on the Kremlin, suggesting that as long as the war continues, sanctions cannot be seen as fully efficient.

The positions of each side in the diplomatic negotiations “will be defined by the successes of relevant armies and the impact of sanctions imposed on Russia," Kuleba said.

“These are the two main criteria which make either our or their position stronger,” he said at a news conference in Brussels following a meeting of the NATO foreign ministers. “Of course, we are focused on making sure that we will be stronger and we will eventually prevail.”

Kuleba reiterated his plea to the international community to stop buying Russian gas and oil. 

“As long as the West … continues buying Russian gas and oil, it is supporting Ukraine with one hand while supporting Russia war machine with another,” he said.

“The damage that is being inflicted on Russia by sanctions now has … long term implications for Russia," the foreign minister acknowledged. “But people are dying today. Their offensive is unfolding today. And we need steps which will stop Russia’s war machine today. As long as this hasn’t been done, we cannot speak about efficiency, full efficiency of sanctions."

1:31 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

Top US general warns Ukraine war will be "long slog"

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Niah Humphrey

Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, April 7 in Washington, DC.
Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, April 7 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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. 

Ukraine has successfully defeated Russia’s initial onslaught on Kyiv, Milley said, but he noted there’s a battle ahead in the southeastern part of the country as Russia has refocused its war efforts there.

“They've managed to defeat the Russian onslaught on to Kyiv, but there is a significant battle yet ahead down in the southeast, down around the Donbas-Donetsk region where the Russians intend to get mass forces and continue their assault,” Milley said. “So I think it's an open question right now, how this ends. Ideally, Putin decides to ceasefire, stop his aggression, and as some sort of diplomatic intervention. But right now that doesn't look like it's on the horizon, the immediate horizon.”