US Pentagon says missile strike on Ukraine train station just a "piece of Russian brutality"
From CNN's Jamie Crawford
The Pentagon finds “unconvincing” claims from Russia that its forces were not involved in the strike on a train station in Ukraine earlier today that resulted in multiple civilian deaths and injuries, spokesperson John Kirby said during a briefing with reporters.
“Our assessment is that this was a Russian strike and that they used a short range ballistic missile to conduct it,” Kirby said.” It is again of a piece of Russian brutality in the prosecution of this war and their carelessness for trying to avoid civilian harm.”
UK prime minister is open to giving Ukraine any form of "defensive weaponry"
From CNN's Amy Cassidy
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that “in principle,” he is open to sending any form of “defensive weaponry” to Ukraine, but stopped short of committing to the delivery of combat tanks.
Speaking at a news conference alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Johnson was asked why the UK is not fulfilling Kyiv’s wish of being given Marder tanks — a primarily offensive weapon.
“I’m in principle willing to consider anything by way of defensive weaponry to help the Ukrainians protect themselves and their people," Johnson said. “I think it’s important that we should be giving equipment that is genuinely useful and that is operable by the Ukrainians — that’s our consideration.”
The US and Germany will facilitate the delivery of Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine.
The Czech Republic is also reported to have supplied tanks and combat vehicles.
3:41 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022
Zelensky tells EU chiefs latest sanctions against Russia are "not enough"
From Amy Cassidy in London
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday told European Union chiefs that the bloc’s latest package of sanctions against Russia is still “not enough."
“I would like to thank all the world, the EU, Ursula von der Leyen personally, for the 5th sanctions package, but I think it is not enough," he said, speaking in Kyiv alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and High Representative of Foreign Policy and Security Josep Borrell.
“Because they [Russia] have taken a lot away from us, the territories, the people,” he said.
While Ukraine can “bring the territories back," they cannot “bring those people back to life," he said.
“Please keep helping us with the sanctions," he added.
The EU’s fifth round of sanctions was adopted this week and includes a ban on Russian coal imports and blocks Russian access to EU ports.
Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, vowed an EU delegation will return to Kyiv and acknowledged Ukraine needs more arms.
He said he hoped to be able to pledge a further 500 million euros ($543 million) in military assistance “within the next couple of days," on top of the 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion) already allocated.
2:58 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022
EU gives Ukraine an "important step" to full membership of the bloc
From Amy Cassidy in London
The European Union on Friday gave Ukraine an “important step” towards membership of the bloc, with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen ceremoniously handing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a questionnaire to complete as part of the long-winded membership process.
“Ukraine belongs to the European family. We’ve heard your requests loud and clear. And today, we’re here to give you a first positive answer,” von der Leyen said speaking to reporters in Kyiv alongside Zelensky and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell.
“In this envelope, dear Volodymyr, there is an important step towards EU membership. The questionnaire that is in here is the basis for our discussion in the coming weeks. It is where your path towards Europe and the European Union begins.”
Von der Leyen said she hopes to be able to work closely with Zelesnky to complete the questionnaire within weeks.
Thanking her as he received the document, Zelesnky joked: “We’ll be ready with answers, Ursula, in one week”.
The questionnaire is one of the many steps Ukraine would need to complete to reach full EU membership.
2:55 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022
US State Department: Railway strike another example of Russia's war "sowing senseless death and destruction"
“I want to express our deep condolences to the families of those killed or injured and to the people of Ukraine who continue to suffer terribly from the Russian government's unprovoked unjustified and brutal war,” State Department principal deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said Friday.
“We are horrified by this latest atrocity but we can no longer be surprised by the Kremlin's repugnant disregard for human lives,” she said.
“This is just yet another example of the Russian government's unjustified brutal war sowing senseless death and destruction in Ukraine and unravelling the fabric of normal life on schools, on homes, on hospitals and on workplaces. Civilians are killed when they stay in their homes and they are killed when they try to leave," she said.
Porter said such actions “demonstrate why Russia does not belong on the UN Human Rights Council and they also reinforce the US's assessment that members of Russian forces are committing war crimes in Ukraine.”
2:35 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022
US seeing indications Russia is looking to recruit "upwards of 60,000 troops," defense official says
From CNN's Michael Conte, Barbara Starr and Jamie Crawford
The US has seen indications that Russia is looking to recruit “upwards of 60,000 troops” between new conscripts and mobilizing reservists to reinforce their invasion forces, according to a senior US defense official.
The official cautioned that “it remains to be seen” how successful Russia would be in meeting that target, how much training those forces would get, or where they would be sent.
The official also said the US has not seen that there are “fresh reinforcements, fully trained, fully armed” ready to reinforce depleted Russian battalion tactical groups.
With regards to their current ability, Russia is now “below 85% of their assessed available combat power” that Moscow had amassed prior to the invasion of Ukraine in February, a senior US defense official said Friday during a briefing with reporters.
“Of the assessed available combat power that they had available to them before the invasion that they had arrayed against Ukraine for this purpose, of the total assessed combat power that they had we estimate that they are between 80 and 85% of what they had,” the official said which takes into account a variety of factors from the number of tanks, fighter aircraft, missile inventory, as well as troops.
The official would not put a specific number on the total number of Russian troops that have been killed to date in the Ukraine operation.
“The aggregate tells us they are under 85% of their assessed available combat power when they started this invasion,” the official said.
The US also believes the Russian military has not solved “their logistics and sustainment problems,” include those problems that existed outside Ukraine, according to a senior US defense official.
The official said those problems mean that they will be unlikely to be able to reinforce their forces in the eastern part of Ukraine “with any great speed.”
“We don’t believe that in general this is going to be a speedy process for them, given the kinds of casualties they’ve taken and the kind of damage that they’ve sustained to their units’ readiness,” said the official.
3:21 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022
Ukraine officials: Russian troops have completed withdrawal from Sumy region
From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva
On Friday, the General Staff of Ukraine said stated that Russian forces have completed their withdrawal from Ukraine's northern Sumy region, while continuing a buildup of forces in the country's east.
"The Russian occupiers completely withdrew their troops from the Sumy region to the Russian Federation," a General Staff statement on Facebook read.
Russia's military announced previously it was withdrawing from northern Ukraine and around Kyiv to concentrate efforts in the eastern Donbas region.
The General Staff statement also noted that Russian troops continued a buildup in the southern Zaporizhzhia and eastern Donetsk regions, and continued an offensive in the direction of Popasna and Severodonetsk, in the eastern Luhansk region.
1:35 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022
World leaders condemn Kramatorsk railway strike
From CNN's Radina Gigova and Benjamin Brown
The European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Josep Borrell, has strongly condemned a rocket strike on a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, which killed around 30 people and wounded about 100 on Friday, according to officials.
"I strongly condemn this morning’s indiscriminate attack against a train station in #Kramatorsk by Russia, which killed dozens of people and left many more wounded," Borrell said on his official Twitter account Friday. "This is yet another attempt to close escape routes for those fleeing this unjustified war and cause human suffering."
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Friday she is "appalled" by the "despicable" missile attack on the railway station.
Borrell and von der Leyen will be meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Friday.
“Ukrainian civilians were fleeing to escape the worst. Their weapons? Strollers, stuffed toys, luggage. This morning, at the Kramatorsk train station, the families who were about to leave experienced horror,” Macron said. “Dozens dead, hundreds injured. Abominable."
The French president expressed his condolences to the victims of the strike in Kramatorsk and to victims from past attacks, namely Bucha, Mariupol and Kharkiv. He also called for investigations.
Macron reiterated that the European Union will continue to provide humanitarian, military and financial supports to Ukraine.
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has responded to the deadly attack on the Kramatorsk railway station in Ukraine, calling the strike on civilians “completely unacceptable”. At least 50 people were killed in the missile strike on a train station, according to Ukrainian authorities.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the strike "completely unacceptable" in a statement Friday.
"They are gross violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, for which the perpetrators must be held accountable," he said, reminding "all parties of their obligations under international law to protect civilians and of the urgency to agree on humanitarian ceasefires in order to enable the safe evacuation of and humanitarian access to populations trapped in conflict.”
The statement added that the secretary general reiterates his appeal to all concerned “to bring an immediate end to this brutal war.”
European Council President Charles Michel also condemned the strike.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Friday she is "appalled" by the rocket strike.
"The targeting of civilians is a war crime. We will hold Russia and Putin to account," Truss said on her official Twitter account.
CNN’s Xiaofei Xu and Camille Knight in Paris contributed to this reporting.
1:58 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022
Germany should be able to end Russian oil imports "this year," chancellor says
From CNN's Benjamin Brown
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he thinks thinks Germany will be able to stop importing Russian oil "this year," he said Friday.
Speaking at a press conference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to London, Scholz said Germany was "actively working" on becoming independent from Russian oil imports. The German chancellor said he believed Germany would be able to end imports this year but added it would take Germany longer to wean itself off Russian gas.
Ending Russian energy imports required investment and infrastructure, Scholz said, adding that Germany had prepared steps to become independent from Russian energy imports "before the war began because we knew that this problem would come up."