April 1, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Simone McCarthy, Travis Caldwell, Helen Regan, Sana Noor Haq, Sara Spary and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, April 2, 2022
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6:39 a.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Fire breaks out at a Russian fuel depot near Ukrainian border

From CNN's Masha Angelova, Jake Kwon, Olga Voitovych, Uliana Pavlova and Nathan Hodge

A screen grab captured from a video shows firefighters responding to a fire at a fuel depot in the Russian city of Belgorod on April 1.
A screen grab captured from a video shows firefighters responding to a fire at a fuel depot in the Russian city of Belgorod on April 1. (Russian Ministry of Emergency Situation/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A fire broke out at a fuel depot in Belgorod, a Russian city near the Ukrainian border, the regional governor said on his Telegram channel Friday morning.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of Belgorod region, accused Ukraine of being behind the blaze without providing further evidence.

“The fire at the oil depot occurred as a result of an air strike coming from two helicopters of the Ukrainian Armed Forces which entered the territory of the Russian Federation flying at a low altitude. There are no victims,” said Gladkov.

CNN is unable to verify this claim. 

The fire “engulfed fuel reservoirs,” Russian state media TASS reported, citing the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations.

A still image taken from video footage shows a fuel depot on fire in the city of Belgorod, Russia, on April 1.
A still image taken from video footage shows a fuel depot on fire in the city of Belgorod, Russia, on April 1. (Russian Emergencies Ministry/Reuters)

Two employees of the depot were injured in the fire but their lives are not in danger, Gladkov said. Residents in the vicinity of the depot are being evacuated, he added.

The emergency services are at the scene fighting the fire, and there is no threat to the population of the city, Gladkov said.

Some 16,000 cubic meters (3.52 million gallons) of fuel are on fire at the depot, Russian state media RIA Novosti reported on Friday, citing the emergency services. 

Eight tanks with 2,000 cubic meters of fuel each are on fire and there is a threat of the blaze spreading to another eight tanks, the emergency services said, according to RIA Novosti.

CNN has sought comment from Ukraine regarding reports of a purported strike by Ukrainian helicopters on the fuel storage facility in Belgorod.

Bohdan Senyk, the head of the public affairs department of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said there was "no information" about the incident. 

Putin informed: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin had been informed about the fire.

“The president was informed about Belgorod," Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. "You know that the Ministry of Emergency Situations was sent there. Steps are being taken to re-organize fuel supply points so that what happened in no case affects the level of supply of all necessary types of fuel.”

The Russian military has claimed air superiority over Ukraine. 

“Air superiority during an operation is an absolute fact," Peskov said. "And as for what happened, it probably should not be us giving out assessments, but our law enforcement agencies.”

On Wednesday, Gladkov said separate explosions at an ammunition dump in Belgorod region late Tuesday night may have occurred because of a fire, citing preliminary information.

Some context: Belgorod is close to the northeastern Ukraine-Russia border, beyond which lies the major Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. The Belgorod area was used as a staging ground for Russian forces shortly before the invasion, and Kharkiv has since been relentlessly shelled and hit with missiles.

Video shows large fire at Russian fuel depot:

8:30 a.m. ET, April 1, 2022

2,000 people fleeing Mariupol are now on buses to Ukrainian-held city, council says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Lviv and Maria Kostenko in Chernivtsi 

Around 2,000 civilians are on evacuation buses heading from the coastal city of Berdyansk to the Ukrainian government-held city of Zaporizhzhia, carrying civilians evacuating from the besieged city of Mariupol. 

"The evacuation convoy left Berdyansk for Zaporizhzhia," Mariupol city council said in a statement on Telegram. "Many private vehicles have joined the 42 buses escorted by Red Cross and SES (State Emergency Service) vehicles. Today we expect the arrival of a record number of Mariupol residents." 

Some background: Russia's ministry of defense said in a statement on Thursday that the Russian military would reopen the evacuation corridor from the besieged city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia on Friday at the request of French and German leaders.

The ministry's announcement came as Ukrainian officials said that humanitarian convoys ran into several issues on Thursday, including Russian troops confiscating aid and blocking buses.

Russian forces had confiscated 14 tons of humanitarian aid from buses bound for Melitopol in southern Ukraine, according to Ukranian minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

Vereshchuk said the food and medication was loaded on 12 buses. She added that Russian forces also blocked 45 buses going to Berdyansk on Thursday en route to Mariupol, where about 100,000 civilians remained trapped.

CNN's Nathan Hodge and Hira Humayun contributed reporting to this post.

5:57 a.m. ET, April 1, 2022

"Russia must not hope to win" in Ukraine, says French foreign minister

From CNN’s Joseph Ataman in Paris

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for intensified military, financial and humanitarian support for Ukraine, while talking to reporters in Tallinn, Estonia.

“Russia must not hope to win,” Le Drian said. “The stakes for us are strategic.”

“We have a very clear objective, to not give up anything and to intensify our efforts until a total ceasefire across the whole of Ukraine’s territory and real negotiations."

Le Drian said that France wants to show to partners “on every continent” that “because the Russian war in Ukraine is the negation of the principles and commitments that protect us all, it is everyone’s business.”

He also warned against trusting promises of a reduction in fighting, saying, "We can only judge acts and for the moment we are not there."

He also reiterated calls for Europe to divest from Russian hydrocarbons.

“While we don’t all have the same dependence on Russian hydrocarbons, we will have the same interest in exiting them (in Europe).”

Le Drian has been on a tour of Finland, Estonia, and Lithuania since Wednesday. 

Some background: The minister's comments come two days after he told CNN there has been little progress in Russia-Ukraine talks.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Le Drian said there was “nothing new” and “no breakthrough” in what has been discussed at negotiations in Istanbul.

He added that “the issues are still the same” and that Russian President Putin “still wishes to impose his diktat on Ukraine.”

Le Drian said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “wants some security guarantees to be given to his country and at the moment there is nothing like that in the discussion.” 

5:36 a.m. ET, April 1, 2022

More than 150 children have been killed since the Russian invasion began, say Ukrainian officials

From Uliana Pavlova

A girl injured in the conflict receives treatment at a regional children's hospital in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on March 22.
A girl injured in the conflict receives treatment at a regional children's hospital in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on March 22. (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

At least 153 children have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion five weeks ago, and more than 245 children have been injured, the country’s general prosecutor's office said in news release Friday. 

Bombing and shelling have also damaged 859 educational institutions, including 83 that have been "completely destroyed," according to the news release. 

The Ukrainian general prosecutor's office said it is still working to establish the total number of child casualties in Mariupol as well as in some areas of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Luhansk regions.

4:47 a.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Russia's foreign minister thanks India for taking the Ukraine situation "in its entirety of facts"

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov are seen before their meeting in New Delhi, India, on April 1.
India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov are seen before their meeting in New Delhi, India, on April 1. (DrSJaishankar/Twitter/Reuters)

Speaking on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov thanked India for "taking this situation in its entirety of facts" during a meeting with Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar.

“We appreciate that India is taking this situation in its entirety of facts, not just in a one-sided way,” Lavrov said at the conference in New Delhi on Friday.

“Our Western colleagues would like to reduce any meaningful international issue to the crisis in Ukraine, you know our position, we do not hide anything,” Lavrov added.

"Friendship is the keyword to describe the history of our relations and our relations were very sustainable during many difficult times in the past … We are certainly interested in having the world order balanced,” Lavrov said.

S. Jaishankar said the meeting was taking place “in a difficult international environment,” adding that India “has always been in favor of resolving differences and disputes through dialogue and diplomacy.”

Lavrov said economic matters and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic would also be on the agenda.

Some background: Lavrov's meeting with S. Jaishankar came hot on the heels of his summit with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday.

Both India and China have been under pressure to condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine as the death toll from the unprovoked conflict rises. They have refused to condemn Russia's brutal invasion outright, and both abstained from voting on United Nations resolutions demanding Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine.

However, by the end of Lavrov's first day in China, Beijing had made its stance clear. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said there is "no ceiling for China-Russia cooperation," according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

Meanwhile, there has also been a flurry of diplomatic activity involving India recently. Earlier this month, leaders from Japan and Australia held summits with their Indian counterparts. Also this week, diplomats from Germany and the European Union are visiting Delhi.

And Lavrov's trip coincides with the visits of Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and the United States' Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, Daleep Singh.

CNN's Jessie Yeung contributed reporting to this post.

4:10 a.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Aid supplies are not reaching Mariupol, city official says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Lviv

Local residents walk past a destroyed apartment building in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 31.
Local residents walk past a destroyed apartment building in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 31. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Russian forces have not allowed aid supplies to reach the besieged city of Mariupol, an adviser to the city's mayor said Friday, and it remains exceptionally difficult for trapped residents to leave the city.

"The city remains closed to entry and very dangerous to exit with own vehicle. In addition, since yesterday, the occupiers (Russians) have categorically not allowed any humanitarian aid, even the smallest amount, into the city," Petro Andriushchenko said in a statement on Telegram.
"The reasons for such actions are still unclear, but our predictions remain frustrated. We do not see a real desire of the Russians and their satellites to allow Mariupol residents to evacuate to Ukrainian-controlled territory."

Some context: Ukrainian minister Iryna Vereshchuk said about 100,000 civilians remained trapped in the city, which has suffered weeks of bombardment. Russian forces also blocked 45 buses en route to Mariupol on Thursday, she added.

Russia said it will reopen the evacuation corridor from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia at 10 a.m. Moscow time Friday at the request of French and German leaders, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense. France said the evacuation corridor on Thursday was “insufficient” to allow rescue from Mariupol.

2:30 a.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Towns in Luhansk region hit by heavy shelling, regional military governor says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Lviv

Several towns in Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region have been hit by "heavy shelling" from Russian forces, the regional military governor said on Friday.

Some of the towns and cities struck include Severodonetsk, Rubizhne, Lysychansk, Kreminna and Ivanivka, Serhii Haidai, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration said in a statement.

"Two people died in Severodonetsk, residents of Lysychansk and Toshkivka were injured, four people were rescued," he said.
"There is no centralized water supply in Rubizhne, Popasna, Severodonetsk, part of the Hirske community and in Lysychansk. Twenty-eight settlements remain without gas supply and 22 without electricity." 

Ukrainian forces had also fought off attempts by Russian troops to bypass their positions near the settlements of Popasna and Novotoshkivske, Haidai said in a separate statement.

Some context: Ukrainian military governors in the country's east also reported heavy shelling on Thursday amid an apparent shift by the Russian military to redirect military efforts to the Donbas region. Haidai said earlier this week efforts had been underway to evacuate civilians from small towns in his region, even without such agreements with the Russian side.

2:15 a.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Ukrainian deputy defense minister: Russia is "trying to concentrate" missile systems in Belarus

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Lviv

Ukraine's deputy defense minister said Russia is "trying to concentrate" missile systems in southeastern Belarus for potential use against Ukraine.

The assessment comes despite Russia's recent claims of a de-escalation around Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv.

"The enemy is not abandoning its plans to completely capture the Donetsk and Luhansk regions," Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said late Thursday in televised remarks.
"He is also encroaching on the Kharkiv region and trying to strengthen his position, to regroup troops."

Ukrainian forces are seeing Russian missile systems being sent near Gomel city in Belarus, Maliar said.

"The enemy is trying to concentrate them there, apparently due to plans to launch missile strikes or use them as a tool for blackmail and intimidation. Therefore, the territory of Belarus continues to be actively used by Russia to carry out aggression," she said.

Asked if she expected to see continued missile strikes on Ukrainian territory, Maliar said, "We have to be ready for this. The war continues. And it should be said that the enemy is not slowing down. Rocket attacks, their intensity is all the same as it was, sometimes even increasing."

Some context: NATO's chief warned that Russian forces are not withdrawing, but are repositioning as they maintain pressure on Kyiv and other cities. Ukrainian and US officials have also said Russians may be regrouping in Belarus.

1:01 a.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Analysis: Western spy agencies weaponize intelligence in attempt to undermine Putin

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

Western intelligence agencies are waging a psychological war over Ukraine directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, an expert at the genre, who is now effectively taking a dose of his own medicine.

The United States and its allies are painting a picture of a bogged down, demoralized and dysfunctional Russian military taking disastrous losses on the battlefield, and are simultaneously conjuring a vision of growing political tension inside the Kremlin.

They claim the Russian leader is isolated, poorly advised and lacking real intelligence on just how badly the war is going.

Western governments are preventing Putin from defining the narrative of the war.

It is a tough position for a Russian leader who has often deployed information warfare himself, notably while meddling in US and European elections.

The remarkable detail of the declassified intelligence assessments must also be especially galling to Putin, a former KGB officer and intelligence chief. And they leave open the possibility that Western intelligence agencies have the capacity to see deep into the Kremlin's war effort and internal politics, which is likely to infuriate the Russian leader and could open further cracks in his regime.

Read the full analysis here: