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

Russia expels 45 Polish diplomats, Russian Foreign Ministry announces

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova in Dubai

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it will expel 45 Polish diplomats from Russia on Friday in response to Poland expelling 45 Russian diplomats. 

“As a response to Poland's unfriendly actions to expel Russian diplomats, based on the principle of reciprocity, 45 employees of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland and the consulates general of the Republic of Poland in Irkutsk, Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg were declared 'persona non grata'," the Russians Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on Telegram.

“They must leave the territory of the Russian Federation before the end of the day on April 13. The corresponding note was handed over to the Ambassador of Poland in Russia,” the statement said.

The Polish Ambassador to Moscow, Krzysztof Kraevsky, was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday to express “strong protest” over Poland’s decision to expel 45 Russian diplomats as persona non grata, according to the statement. 

Persona non grata literally means "an unwelcome person."

“The ambassador was told that we regard this step as confirmation of Warsaw's conscious desire to finally destroy bilateral relations. The responsibility for this lies entirely with the Polish side,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

1:45 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Ukrainian President Zelensky is meeting with European leaders now in Kyiv

From CNN's Radina Gigova

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speak during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday, April 8.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speak during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday, April 8. (Michael Fischer/picture alliance/Getty Images)

A meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell has started in Kyiv, Zelensky's office said in a statement Friday.

"Negotiations will take place in a narrow circle, after which the Head of State and EU representatives will make statements to Ukrainian and foreign media and answer their questions," the statement says without providing additional details. 

Borrell and von der Leyen arrived in Ukraine earlier on Friday.

During a visit to Bucha, von der Leyen said those responsible for the atrocities committed there "will be brought to justice."

"It was important to start my visit in Bucha. Because in Bucha our humanity was shattered. My message to Ukrainian people: Those responsible for the atrocities will be brought to justice," von der Leyen said on her official Twitter account Friday. 

"Your fight is our fight. I’m in Kyiv today to tell you that Europe is on your side," she added.

2:12 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

US assesses a Russian short range ballistic missile struck the Kramatorsk train station 

From CNN's Barbara Starr, Jonny Hallam and Abby Baggini

Ukrainian servicemen stand next to fragments of a missile outside the railway station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on Friday, April 8.
Ukrainian servicemen stand next to fragments of a missile outside the railway station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on Friday, April 8. (Andriy Andriyenko/AP)

The initial US assessment is the missile that hit the Kramatorsk train station was a short range ballistic missile fired from a Russian position inside Ukraine, a senior US defense official said Friday.

It is the “full expectation” of the US that the attack on the Kramatorsk train station in Ukraine was a Russian strike with an SS-21 short range ballistic missile, according to another senior US defense official.

The official said that while the US does not have “perfect visibility into the Russian targeting process,” the train station is a major rail hub located “right on the edge of the line of contact between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the Donbas area.”

Earlier Friday, Ukraine accused Russian forces of using indiscriminate cluster munitions in Friday's attack that left at least 50 people dead.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of Donetsk region military administration, said that a Russian Tochka-U missile packed with small bomblets hit civilians evacuating the area. 

Russian forces have been accused of regularly using cluster munitions against civilian targets in Ukraine. Last week, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said it received credible allegations that Russian armed forces have used cluster munitions in populated areas at least 24 times.

Such attacks “may amount to war crimes,” UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

The nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also confirmed Russia's use of cluster munitions, including at least three instances in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on March 7, 11, and 13, 2022. 

Cluster munitions pose a distinct threat to civilians by randomly scattering submunitions or bomblets over a wide area. Bomblets that fail to explode upon impact often become de facto landmines, extending the damage post-conflict. 

In 2008, over 100 countries in the United Nations signed on to ban cluster munitions, according to the UN website. Ukraine and Russia did not sign the agreement.

11:58 a.m. ET, April 8, 2022

UK will send more air defense and anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, prime minister says

From CNN's Amy Cassidy in London

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference on April 8 in London, England.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference on April 8 in London, England. (Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The UK will send more air defense and anti-tank missiles to Ukraine as part of a new package of high-grade military equipment worth 100 million pounds ($130 million), British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday.

Speaking alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in London, he also said Britain and Germany will be collaborating on energy security and renewables, as Europe aims to phase out its dependency on Russian fossil fuels.

“We cannot transform our respective energy systems overnight. But we also know that Putin's war will not end overnight," Johnson said.

“Today, I can announce that the UK will send a further £100 million worth of high-grade equipment to Ukraine's Armed Forces, including more Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, which fire at three times the speed of sound, another 800 anti-tank missiles and precision munitions capable of lingering in the sky directly to their target,” he said.

“We will also send more helmets, night vision and body armor on top of the 200,000 pieces of non-lethal military equipment the UK has already dispatched,” Johnson said. 

The British and German governments will hold a joint cabinet meeting within the next year, and defense ministers will meet before the next NATO summit in June, Johnson further announced. 

11:37 a.m. ET, April 8, 2022

France is ready "to go further" and ban Russian oil, French finance minister tells CNN

From CNN’s Livvy Doherty and Chris Liakos

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks with CNN on Friday, April 8.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks with CNN on Friday, April 8. (CNN)

France is ready “to go further” and ban Russian oil, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told CNN on Friday.

Le Maire called the attack on a railway station in Kramatorsk, which left at least 50 people dead, “a massacre” and said those responsible must be “identified, prosecuted and possibly convicted for these crimes.”

France did not want to wait and a ban on oil would be a “game changer,” Le Maire said, but added that European unity was needed to implement stricter sanctions on energy. 

“As France is concerned we stand ready to go further and to decide a ban on oil and I’m deeply convinced that the next steps and the next discussions will focus on this question of the ban on Russian oil,” he said. 

Le Maire did stress that the current sanctions agreed by the EU were very effective and “the most heavy since the creation of the European union.”

11:44 a.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Death toll in Kramatorsk train station missile strike rises to 50, according to regional military governor

From CNN's Julia Presniakova in Lviv

Calcinated cars are pictured outside a train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, after it was hit by a rocket attack on April 8.
Calcinated cars are pictured outside a train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, after it was hit by a rocket attack on April 8. (Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

The death toll from a missile strike on a train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, has risen to 50, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of Donetsk region military administration.

In an update on Telegram, Kyrylenko said 50 people had died, five of whom were children, adding that 12 of the victims died after being taken to the hospital. 

"We have such a large number of victims at this hour as a result of the attack of the Russian occupation forces Tochka-U [ballistic missile] on the Kramatorsk railway station," he said. "At that moment, 98 people have been taken to hospitals. We expect that other victims will seek medical help within one or two days, so the number of victims will be constantly changing."

Of the 98 wounded who were taken to medical facilities, 16 were children, 46 were women and 36 were men, Kyrylenko said.

In an earlier statement on Telegram, Kyrylenko had said the station was struck by an Iskander missile. This latest statement updates that a Tochka-U missile was used.

9:57 a.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Belgians encouraged to reduce energy consumption to support Ukraine

From CNN’s James Frater in Brussels

Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten presents the federal government's information campaign 'Be smart about energy, this is how we help Ukraine', in Brussels, Belgium, on April 7.
Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten presents the federal government's information campaign 'Be smart about energy, this is how we help Ukraine', in Brussels, Belgium, on April 7. (Jonas Roosens/BELGA MAG/AFP/Getty Images)

A new government campaign launched in Belgium is encouraging citizens and households to reduce their energy consumption to “be smart with energy and help Ukraine.”

“Smart use of energy is good for your wallet, it helps us to become less dependent on Russia and it is good for the climate,” Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten said in a statement announcing the initiative.

The initiative will run for five weeks online and on all Belgian radio stations. 

Campaign materials published on a dedicated website offered “five simple tips will help you save energy in the short term, without losing comfort.”

The tips include turning down the thermostat by one degree, check the energy rating on home appliances such as refrigerators and freezers, leave the car at home more often and consider using a microwave to re-heat food as – according to the campaign — it uses 4 times less energy than a stove or oven.

Van der Straeten also asked Belgians to prepare for the winter: “Belgian homes consume almost the most energy in all of Europe,” she said urging citizens to invest in better insulation, solar panels, heat pumps and solar water heaters. 

To “set a good example,” the Belgian government is also reducing heating in all federal buildings by one degree a statement from Mathieu Michel, Belgium’s state secretary said.

Belgium imports 30% petroleum, 20% uranium and up to 6% natural gas from Russia according to figures of the country’s energy ministry. 

Minister Van der Straeten reiterated that there is no problem in terms of supplies to Belgium, but “no one can predict how the conflict will evolve, but we can prepare now.”

Other European countries such as France and Germany have also taken measures to reduce their energy dependency.

9:23 a.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Russian strike left the Kramatorsk train station "shelled" and "broken," head of railway company says

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy

Calcinated cars are pictured outside a train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, after it was hit by a rocket attack on April 8.
Calcinated cars are pictured outside a train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, after it was hit by a rocket attack on April 8. (Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

The head of Ukraine's state-owned railway company said one of the two strikes carried out by Russia on Friday fell down on an area adjacent to the Kramatorsk station, and “all of the people that were around and inside were hit by the pieces of the rocket." 

The station building itself was “also shelled” and “broken,” said Oleksandr Kamyshin, the head of Ukrainian Railways.

Russian forces “keep shelling all the stations, all the railway infrastructure” on a “daily basis” and are doing “whatever they can to stop the evacuation program of civilians,” Kamyshin said Friday.

He added that Russian forces also bombed a bridge in the area on Thursday.

He told CNN at least 39 civilians had been killed and 87 injured by Russian shelling at the train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk. Earlier Friday, the Donetsk regional police said around 30 people were killed and 100 injured.

“This case shows that they tried to kill civilians,” Kamyshin added.

9:14 a.m. ET, April 8, 2022

EU's import ban on Russian coal will begin in August, source says

From CNN’s Chris Liakos in London

The Krasnogorsky open pit coal mine in Mezhdurechensk, Russia, on July 19.
The Krasnogorsky open pit coal mine in Mezhdurechensk, Russia, on July 19. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The European Union import ban on Russian coal will take effect in August, a European source told CNN Friday.

EU member states on Thursday evening approved a fifth package of sanctions against Russia.

The package includes an import ban on all forms of Russian coal. This affects one fourth of all Russian coal exports, amounting to around 8 billion euros in loss of revenue per year for Russia, according to the European Commission.

The EU source said that the ban will not be immediate but rather a gradual phase out. There will be “a four-month wind-down period,” according to the source.

The package also includes the closing of EU ports to Russian vessels and a ban on exports of high-tech products to Moscow.  

Further details about the package are expected to be released later today in the Commission’s official journal.