April 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Amy Woodyatt, Ben Church, Melissa Macaya, Jason Kurtz and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, April 9, 2022
10 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
3:46 a.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Ukraine is bracing for a major Russian offensive in the country's east, officials say. Here's what we know

Smoke rises over the town of Rubizhne, in the Donbas region of Ukraine, on April 7.
Smoke rises over the town of Rubizhne, in the Donbas region of Ukraine, on April 7. (Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian officials say major fighting is underway in the east of the country, with heavy shelling reported throughout the Donbas region, ahead of what they are warning may be a major Russian offensive. 

Here's what we know about the situation in the east:

  • Russian troops redeployed: The UK's Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence report Russian troops have “fully withdrawn” from northern Ukraine to Belarus and Russia, and many could be transferred to eastern Ukraine to fight in the Donbas region.
  • Battle akin to WW2: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said “the battle for Donbas ” is underway and will be reminiscent of World War II. It “has not reached its maximum scale," he said, warning the offensive will involve "thousands of tanks, armored vehicles, planes, artillery."
  • "Significant battle" ahead: Echoing those words, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley said there’s a battle ahead in southeastern Ukraine 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.
  • The next target of the invasion: Ukrainian military officials say they have observed a buildup of Russian forces to the east. Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to the Interior Minister, said the destruction of cities in the area of ​​Rubizhne and ​​Popasna in the Luhansk region is ongoing. And recent advances by Russian forces around Kharkiv could be setting the stage for the eastern city of Sloviansk to become the next target of Russia's offensive, said the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank.
  • US intelligence: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US is providing intelligence to Ukrainian forces to conduct operations in the Donbas region. It is significant because it's the first time a US official has publicly acknowledged the US role in Ukraine’s operations in the contested region. 
  • Luhansk hospitals destroyed: The head of the Luhansk state administration said Thursday that all medical institutions and hospitals in the Luhansk region have been destroyed by the Russian forces. In the same post, the leader Sergey Gaidai posted several pictures of the damaged Rubizhne hospital, a medical facility that was "new" and filled with "high-tech equipment.” 
  • Blocking evacuation routes: The heads of the Donetsk and Luhansk regional military administrations have asked residents in some of those eastern regions to evacuate. However, Serhii Haidai, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said Thursday that Russian forces struck a railway overpass near Barvinkove, blocking an evacuation route for civilians from eastern Ukraine. He said almost 500 evacuees from Luhansk region are stuck at a train station. Three evacuation trains were temporarily blocked in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, both in Donetsk region, Haidai said. 
3:12 a.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Russian troops “fully withdrawn” from northern Ukraine: UK Ministry of Defense

From CNN's Lauren Lau in Hong Kong 

An employee rises the Ukrainian flag at the city hall of Bucha, Ukraine, on April 7.
An employee rises the Ukrainian flag at the city hall of Bucha, Ukraine, on April 7. (Photo by Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian troops have “fully withdrawn” from northern Ukraine to Belarus and Russia, the UK's Ministry of Defense said in its latest military intelligence assessment.

A number of the Russian troops will be transferred to eastern Ukraine to fight in the Donbas region, the MoD said on Twitter.

“Many of the forces will require significant replenishment before being ready to deploy further east, with any mass redeployment from the north likely to take at least a week minimum," the ministry said.

Russian shelling of cities in the east and south of Ukraine persists, the MoD said, and Russian forces have moved further south from the city of Izium, which remains under Russian control, it said.

12:40 a.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Analysis: Emmanuel Macron has a grand vision for the West. Putin has exposed the limits of his influence

Analysis from CNN's Luke McGee

Ever since the Ukraine crisis began, French President Emmanuel Macron has assumed the role of Europe’s statesman, willing to talk face-to-face and on the phone multiple times with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a way that other world leaders would be either unwilling or, Macron’s supporters believe, unable to do. 

Critics might argue that Macron’s indulgence legitimizes a man that Biden has described as a war criminal.

But his allies say that, at the very least, keeping the line open to Moscow eliminates any claim Putin could make that he’d been isolated and had no diplomatic alternative other than invasion. 

Macron is a man who sees himself and France as a force for good on the world stage. And though his interventions often don’t live up to expectations the statesman persona plays well with French domestic audiences. All of which helps Macron as he fights for reelection this month. 

But the war has cast a shadow over the French presidential election campaign, the first round of which takes place on April 10. 

Read the full analysis:

12:14 a.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Why Russia might struggle to maintain its digital iron curtain

From CNN Business' Rishi Iyengar

On March 14, the same day Russia banned Instagram, Russian tech entrepreneur Alexander Zobov announced he would soon launch a local version of the popular photo and video sharing app called Rossgram.

Two weeks later, Rossgram shared an update on its Telegram channel telling prospective users that the app was undergoing “internal testing." The launch is still pending.

Rossgram’s apparent launch delays highlights the broader hurdles Russia’s technology sector has to overcome in order to build a self-contained internet that isn’t dependent on western platforms.

The Russian government has been trying to make this break for years but that effort has been further accelerated by Russia’s war with Ukraine and the resulting exodus of, and crackdown on, US big tech companies.

Russia does have established homegrown tech companies such as VK, the biggest Russian social network, and Yandex, whose services include a popular search engine and a ride-hailing platform. But those companies are smaller and also under pressure from global sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine invasion, given their dependence on western firms for key infrastructure.

Read the full story:

12:00 a.m. ET, April 8, 2022

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Rescuers remove rubble of a damaged building in Borodianka, Ukraine, on April 7.
Rescuers remove rubble of a damaged building in Borodianka, Ukraine, on April 7. (Aleksey Filippov/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine's President warned the situation in Borodianka, near the capital, will be worse that what was seen in Bucha, following the retreat of Russian forces. Meanwhile, the US said it has committed tens of thousands of weapons to Ukraine, including "hundreds" of suicide drones.

Here's the latest:

  • Borodianka situation "much scarier": Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the situation in the Kyiv suburb was worse than in Bucha, warning there were "more victims of Russian invaders." He said similar atrocities were seen in the southern city of Mariupol. His speech came after 26 bodies were found under the rubble of two houses in the town, according to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General.
  • Russia dropped from UN Human Rights Council: The UN General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council after allegations of atrocities committed by Russian soldiers. The US called the move “an important and historic moment” and Zelenksy said the vote from UN member states was “fair and logical."
  • US sends more weapons: The US has committed more than 12,000 anti-armor systems, 1,400 anti-aircraft systems and “hundreds” of suicide drones to Ukraine, the Biden administration said Thursday. It comes after the US approved on Tuesday another $100 million in weaponry for Ukraine drawn from US inventories, bringing the total US assistance to Ukraine to about $1.7 billion since the start of Russia’s invasion.
  • Fears for Ukraine's east: Ukrainian officials say major fighting is underway in the east, with the regional military governor of the Luhansk region urging civilians to evacuate some towns. The region's state administration head said all medical institutions and hospitals in Luhansk had been destroyed by Russian forces. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said “the battle for Donbas” is underway and will be reminiscent of World War II.
  • Australia sends armored vehicles: Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country would send 20 of its home-built Bushmaster armored personnel carriers to Ukraine, following a request by Zelensky. The Bushmasters have been painted olive green with a Ukrainian flag on the side, and two are "ambulance variants" that carry the Red Cross emblem.
  • More EU sanctions: The European Union approved a fifth round of sanctions against Russia, according to the French Presidency of the Council of Europe. The new measures include a ban on imports of Russian coal as well as embargo on arms exports to Russia. Japan also announced it will gradually reduce imports of Russian coal.
  • Pink Floyd: The legendary rock band will release a new single on Friday in support of the people of Ukraine. It's the first new music from the band since 1994, and all proceeds will go to Ukrainian humanitarian relief.

Here's a look at the situation on the ground as Russia attacks eastern Ukraine:

10:47 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

US has committed more than 12,000 anti-armor systems and "hundreds" of suicide drones to Ukraine

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

The US has committed more than 12,000 anti-armor systems, 1,400 anti-aircraft systems and “hundreds” of suicide drones to Ukraine, the Biden administration said in a statement Thursday evening.

The update comes after the US approved on Tuesday another $100 million in weaponry for Ukraine drawn from US inventories, bringing the total US assistance to Ukraine to approximately $1.7 billion since the beginning of Russia’s invasion.

That includes $300 million approved last Friday under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, in which new weapons will be purchased from defense contractors to send to Ukraine.

The list of weapons committed to Ukraine includes the following:

  • More than 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems
  • More than 5,000 Javelin anti-armor systems
  • More than 7,000 other anti-armor systems
  • Hundreds of Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
  • Over 50,000,000 rounds of ammunition
  • 45,000 sets of body armor and helmets
  • Laser-guided rocket systems
  • Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems
  • Night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, and optics
  • Commercial satellite imagery services

This does not mean all of the weapons have already arrived in Ukraine; instead, they are an update on what the US has sent in the past and has pledged to send in the future.

For example, on Wednesday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the US has sent in about 100 of the Switchblade suicide drones and is working on sending in more. 

9:25 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

UN suspends Russia from Human Rights Council

From CNN's Richard Roth, Kate Sullivan, Samantha Beech and Laura Ly

The United Nations General Assembly voted Thursday to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council after high-profile allegations of atrocities committed by Russian soldiers during the war in Ukraine.

The voting result was 93 in favor, 24 against and 58 abstentions.

A draft of the resolution says the General Assembly may "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 draft resolution adds that the council has "grave concern" regarding reports of "gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights" and "violations of international humanitarian law" committed by the Russian Federation during its invasion of Ukraine.

The General Assembly needed to vote in favor by two-thirds of the countries present and voting to remove Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. The measure suspends Russia's membership in the Council and would launch a review of the matter if the UN deems it appropriate.

Read more here.

10:04 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 it “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, before claiming 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.” 

Peskov 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.”

Some context: CNN has been unable to verify how many Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine. Last month, pro-Putin Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda reported the toll was 9,861 — multiple times higher than official figures from the Kremlin. The figure, which was attributed to the ministry and later retracted by the paper — which claimed it was hacked — was not confirmed by the Kremlin.

US and NATO officials estimated last month that Russian casualties range from between 3,000 and 10,000. Ukrainian officials have claimed the toll is even higher.

8:33 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

Video appears to show execution of Russian prisoner by Ukrainian forces

From CNN's Nathan Hodge, Eoin McSweeney and Niamh Kennedy

CNN has geolocated a recent video that appears to show the execution of a Russian prisoner by Ukrainian forces following recent fighting in the Kyiv region.

The video — first verified by the New York Times — shows a group of soldiers with Ukrainian patches and blue arm bands on a road following a firefight. The bodies of at least four men in Russian uniform are lying on the pavement. Three of them have head wounds and blood is pooled around the body of a fourth, who has a jacket pulled over his head and seems to be rasping.

"He's still alive," says one man, in Russian. "He's gasping."

A soldier points a rifle and fires two shots at the body, pauses, then fires another. The body stops moving.

A person narrating to the camera then turns to film a Russian infantry fighting vehicle with a "V" marking similar to that seen on Russian military hardware operated by many units in Ukraine. "A little trophy," the man says.

Someone off camera says, "Slava Ukrayini!" — glory to Ukraine, a patriotic greeting, and a bearded man steps in the frame and replies, "Glory the heroes," the standard reply.

The exact time and date of the video, which appeared on a pro-Russian Telegram channel, is unclear. The location of the video matches that of a video published on Twitter by Ukraine's Ministry of Defense. That video, posted on April 2, shows a blasted Russian armored column. "Handiwork of Ukrainian defenders in the Kyiv region," the caption reads.

Read more: