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
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8:51 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Zelensky says everybody involved in Kramatorsk attack will be held accountable

From CNN's Hira Humayun

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a video broadcast on Friday evening April 8.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a video broadcast on Friday evening April 8. (Ukrainian Government)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said everyone behind the Russian attack on the Kramatorsk train station will be held accountable.

“This is another war crime of Russia, for which everyone involved will be held accountable,” he said in his nightly address on Friday, adding that Russian state propaganda tried to blame Ukrainian armed forces for the attack.

“We expect a firm, global response to this war crime," he said.

Zelensky confirmed previous reports from the head of Donetsk region military administration, that at least 50 people were killed in the attack, including five children.

“Like the massacres in Bucha, as well as many other Russian war crimes, the missile strike on Kramatorsk must be one of the charges at the tribunal, which is bound to happen,” he said.

The Ukrainian President said “all the efforts of the world” will be directed to establish minute-by-minute “who did what, who gave orders, where did the rocket come from, who was carrying it, who gave the order and how the strike was coordinated.”

“Responsibility is inevitable,” he said.

8:40 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Hungary PM's spokesperson says "we are not going to mingle in this war by means of weapons"

From CNN’s Henry Hullah and Emmet Lyons

Zoltan Kovacs, the international spokesperson for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaks with CNN on Friday April 8.
Zoltan Kovacs, the international spokesperson for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaks with CNN on Friday April 8. (CNN)

A spokesperson for Hungary's Prime Minister told CNN the country will not supply weapons to support Ukraine in the conflict with Russia. 

“The Hungarian standpoint is firm … we are not going to mingle in this war by means of weapons and by supplying soldiers,” said Zoltan Kovacs, the international spokesperson for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, on Friday.

In an address last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized Orbán, telling Hungary to “decide for yourself who you are with.”

Following a sweeping election victory last Sunday, Orbán hit out at Zelensky, saying his campaign “had to fight against a huge amount of opponents” including the Ukrainian President.

Kovacs told CNN that while Hungary would support Ukraine with humanitarian aid, Prime Minister Orbán rejected Zelensky’s “message.”

"As a sovereign state, don't message us. We know what to do. We do everything at our disposal, but it's not going to be by what you are trying to tell us to do. I believe Mr. Zelensky is representing the Ukrainian national interest. We see the disturbing images and the tragedy that is happening in Ukraine," he said. 
"We are going to take care of everyone coming from Ukraine and the best effort is to bring these warring partners into a negotiating table." 

Hungary has proposed a peace summit in its capital Budapest — a proposal called “cynical” by Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko.

Some context: Hungary has indicated it would be willing to pay for Russian gas in rubles after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree demanding that "unfriendly countries" pay for gas in the currency. It’s a move that EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told CNN would be a breach of EU sanctions. 

However, Kovacs said it was "impossible" to stop buying Russian energy.

“There's no physical alternative to Russian gas and oil … these are very simple facts actually that for us, going for energy and paying for energy, whatever it takes is going to happen," he said.

8:10 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

More than 6,600 people evacuated Ukraine via humanitarian corridors on Friday, official says

From CNN Staff

Ukrainian refugees cross the border at Medyka, Poland on Friday April 8.
Ukrainian refugees cross the border at Medyka, Poland on Friday April 8. (Sergei Grits/AP)

On Friday, 6,665 people were evacuated via humanitarian corridors according to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

Vereshchuk shared the figures in her briefing posted on Telegram.

On Saturday there will be humanitarian corridors from Mariupol and blocked cities in the Zaporizhzhia region, as well as evacuations of the Luhansk region, said Vereshchuk.

She also called out the government officials in charge of cities like Melitopol and Energodar, which are connected to the Ukrainian humanitarian corridor to Mariupol, for violating international law of operation of humanitarian corridors and cooperating with the occupiers.

7:12 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Russia aiming to achieve victory over Ukraine by May 9, European officials say

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

The Russians are feeling “self-imposed pressure” to achieve some sort of victory by May 9, according to two European officials. May 9 is the day Russia celebrates Victory Day over Germany in World War 2.

Traditionally Russia marks the holiday with a military victory parade through Red Square and a speech from President Vladimir Putin. With one month to go until the holiday, the officials say Russia is regrouping and shifting its forces to southeastern Ukraine — a far more limited goal than seizing large swaths of the country — with the aim of achieving some sort of regional victory.

“Consolidating and trying to at least have something to talk about is clearly in their interest,” one official said.

The official noted that the time pressure could lead Russian forces to make mistakes, compounded by the logistical issues and the morale problems they already face. 

The second European official said that a political timeline for the war could lead to a “military disaster as a consequence.”

But it could also lead Russian forces to commit more atrocities, said the first official.

“The stench of these war crimes is going to hang over these Russian armed forces for many years,” the official said.
6:31 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Ukrainian defense intelligence official: Russian troops "regrouping" before advancing toward Kharkiv

From CNN's Christiane Amanpour and Jo Shelley in Kyiv

Major-General Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine's Chief of Defense Intelligence speaks with CNN on Friday April 8.
Major-General Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine's Chief of Defense Intelligence speaks with CNN on Friday April 8. (CNN)

The Russian military is regrouping in the east of Ukraine and plans to advance toward the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s Chief of Defense Intelligence told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Friday.

"They are regrouping towards the [Ukrainian] city called Izium via Belgorod. They are moving through Belgorod. They get additional troops in Belgorod in order to compensate their losses in Ukraine," Major-General Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine's Chief of Defense Intelligence, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an interview in Kyiv.

"They plan to advance towards Kharkiv first of all. They will try to finish off the city of Mariupol and only after that, they might try to initiative advances towards Kyiv," he said.

Budanov called on Ukraine’s allies to provide “really serious” military support to help it counter the Russian offensive. He said heavy artillery, anti-aircraft missile systems and combat planes were needed to use “against [Russian] ground forces”. 

“Ukraine needs really serious support in heavy armament, and we need it not tomorrow, we need it today,” he said. 

Budanov said the weaknesses of the Russian military were on display in Ukraine. Russia’s troops were “defeated” in the Kyiv region and its military effort hampered by logistics, he said.  

5:52 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Ukrainians shocked by "crazy" scene at Chernobyl after Russian pullout reveals radioactive contamination

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio, Frederik Pleitgen, Byron Blunt and Daria Markina

A dosimetrist measures the level of radiation around trenches dug by the Russian military in an area with high levels of radiation called the Red Forest near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in Chernobyl, Ukraine on April 7.
A dosimetrist measures the level of radiation around trenches dug by the Russian military in an area with high levels of radiation called the Red Forest near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in Chernobyl, Ukraine on April 7. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

The sudden ear-piercing beep of a radiation meter fills the room as a Ukrainian soldier walks in. This is where Russian soldiers were living at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and radiation levels are now higher than normal.

There's no visible presence of the source of the radioactive material in the room, but Ukrainian officials say it's coming from small particles and dust that the soldiers brought into the building.

"They went to the Red Forest and brought radioactive material back with them on their shoes," soldier Ihor Ugolkov explains. "Other places are fine, but radiation increased here, because they were living here."

CNN was given exclusive access to the power plant for the first time since it came back into Ukrainian control.

Officials at the plant explain the levels inside the room used by Russian soldiers are only slightly above what the World Nuclear Association describes as naturally occurring radiation. One-time contact would not be dangerous but continuous exposure would pose a health hazard.

"They went everywhere, and they also took some radioactive dust on them [when they left]," Ugolkov adds.

It's an example of what Ukrainian officials say was the lax and careless behavior of Russian soldiers while they were in control of the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster. The area around Chernobyl, namely the Red Forest, is still the most nuclear contaminated area on the planet, with most of the radioactive particles present on the soil.

You can read more about the scene in Chernobyl here.

3:53 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

There are "international war crimes being committed" in Ukraine, European Parliament president tells CNN

From CNN’s Livvy Doherty

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola speaks with CNN on Friday April 8.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola speaks with CNN on Friday April 8. (CNN)

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola told CNN that the missile strike on a train station in Kramatorsk and other attacks on civilians in Ukraine are “international war crimes being committed against sovereign people who are simply fighting for democracy and for their country.”

Speaking to CNN’s Julia Chatterley on Friday, Metsola said Europe is not delivering equipment, financial assistance, or logistical assistance fast enough, “and it is up to us today, in these hours, to stand up to be counted and to not turn our backs.”

She also said that Europe is funding this war “whether directly, or indirectly” and must take responsibility for not acting earlier to stop the war.

“Why have we sheltered Putin, his family, the oligarchs, and all the people who support him in our Europe by selling them our passports, our citizenship? By allowing them to hide their money in our countries. And we need to make sure this does not happen again,” she said. 

When asked about Ukraine's candidacy to join the European Union, Metsola said “for the parliament, it’s clear. The place for Ukraine is in Europe.”

3:45 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Moscow forces closure of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch offices in Russia

From CNN's Abby Baggini

The Russian Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation announced Friday that it has revoked the registration of 15 representative offices of international organizations and foreign NGOs, including that of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The groups "were expelled after they were found to be in breach of the current legislation of the Russian Federation," a ministry statement said.

In response to the expulsion, Amnesty International said that Moscow is "effectively closing it down." Russia’s media regulator previously blocked access to Amnesty International’s Russian-language website on March 11.

“Amnesty’s closing down in Russia is only the latest in a long list of organizations that have been punished for defending human rights and speaking the truth to the Russian authorities," said Agnès Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International.

"In a country where scores of activists and dissidents have been imprisoned, killed, or exiled, where independent media has been smeared, blocked, or forced to self-censor, and where civil society organizations have been outlawed or liquidated, you must be doing something right if the Kremlin tries to shut you up," she continued.

The Russian ministry's announcement, which did not specify the details of the violations, comes as several NGOs accuse Russia of committing crimes under international law.

The independent rights group Human Rights Watch said over the weekend that it has documented a number of allegations of war crimes by Russian forces in occupied regions of Ukraine, which “include a case of repeated rape; two cases of summary execution, one of six men, the other of one man; and other cases of unlawful violence and threats against civilians between February 27 and March 14, 2022."

“The authorities are deeply mistaken if they believe that by closing down our office in Moscow, they will stop our work documenting and exposing human rights violations," said Callamard. "We continue undeterred to work to ensure that people in Russia are able to enjoy their human rights without discrimination. We will redouble our efforts to expose Russia’s egregious human rights violations both at home and abroad."

7:36 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

US Pentagon says missile strike on Ukraine train station just a "piece of Russian brutality"

From CNN's Jamie Crawford

Ukrainian police inspect the remains of a large rocket next to the main building of a train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine on April 8.
Ukrainian police inspect the remains of a large rocket next to the main building of a train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine on April 8. (Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

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.”

At least 50 people were killed and almost 100 injured in a Russian missile strike on a train station used as an evacuation hub in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, Ukrainian officials say.