Satellite images show apparent Russian military convoy east of Kharkiv
Satellite images collected and analyzed by Maxar Technologies show an eight-mile-long military convoy moving south through the eastern Ukraine town of Velkyi Burluk on April 8.
The town sits to the east of Kharkiv, close to Ukraine’s border with Russia.
The images show “armored vehicles, trucks with towed artillery and support equipment” making up the convoy, Maxar said.
Some context: 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. Ukraine's defense intelligence chief on Friday told CNN that Russian troops are regrouping across the border and plan to advance toward Kharkiv. Officials have urged the evacuation of civilians from the region, as Russian forces shift focus to southern and eastern Ukraine.
Earlier in Russia's invasion, a 40-mile-long (64-kilometer) Russian military convoy, composed of tanks, armored vehicles and towed artillery, sparked dread among defending Ukrainians as it lumbered towards their capital Kyiv in northern Ukraine. But the convoy stalled as it faced tough Ukrainian resistance and challenges in accessing supplies, before dispersing without ever reaching the city.
Here are the latest developments on the war in Ukraine:
Changing hands: Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Army Gen. Alexander Dvornikov as theater commander of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, according to a US official and a European official. Dvornikov, the first commander of Russia’s military operations in Syria, could bring a new level of coordination to an assault now expected to focus on the Donbas region, instead of multiple fronts.
Civilian toll: The scale of Russia’s grisly assault on Ukrainian civilians in the north is becoming clearer in the wake of the forces’ withdrawal from the region. A UK Military Intelligence update on Saturday said evidence, including mass graves, indicate non-combatants were “disproportionately targeted.” Ukrainian officials have found hundreds of civilian bodies in towns near Kyiv, including Bucha and Makariv.
Bracing for onslaught: Ukrainian officials continue to warn about what could be a major Russian offensive set to take place in the country's east, where intense fighting is already underway. Ukraine’s Chief of Defense Intelligence said Russian troops are regrouping across the border and plan to advance toward the eastern city of Kharkivin what could be a major offensive.
More than $10.8 billion raised for people fleeing Russian invasion in global pledging event
From CNN's Nina Avramova and Radina Gigova
The “Stand Up for Ukraine” global pledging event and campaign aimed to help Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion has raised more than €10 billion ($10.8 billion) since its launch on March 26, the European Commission said in a statement Saturday.
From the total funds, €1 billion ($1.087 billion) come from the European Commission and €1 billion ($1.087 billion) in a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to cover the needs of the people displaced by the violence in and outside Ukraine, according to the statement.
The "Stand Up For Ukraine" online pledging event concludes a broader social media campaign launched by the European Commission and the government in Canada that "answers a call for support launched by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky," according to the statement.
“The solidarity of countries, companies and people worldwide offers some light in this dark hour," EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in the statement. "We will continue providing support. And once the bombs have stopped falling, we will help the people of Ukraine rebuild their country. We will continue to Stand up for Ukraine.”
"Whether it's food, water, shelter, or medical aid – we will continue to have your backs and provide the assistance you need at this time. We are standing up for Ukraine," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the statement.
12:14 a.m. ET, April 10, 2022
"Abnormally high" radiation where Russians dug trenches in Chernobyl's Red Forest, nuclear power operator says
From CNN's Mariya Knight in Atlanta
Petro Kotin, the head of Ukraine's state nuclear power operator Energoatom, visited one of the sections of the so-called Red Forest in Chernobyl's exclusion zone along with specialists and observed "abnormally high" radiation in areas where the Russian troops dug trenches and tried to build fortifications.
In a statement on Telegram, Energoatom said, "abnormally high rates of radiation were recorded" in the area.
Indications of external irradiation were 10 to 15 times higher than normal, and that possible internal radiation received from contact with the soil surface could be 160 times more than the norm, he added.
"Another factor of internal irradiation is Alpha pollution formed as a result of fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel, graphite masonry scattered on this section of the Red Forest" after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster," the statement read. "These fragments are now located at a depth of 40-80 centimeters, while the occupiers dug deeper. When inside the human body, this type of radiation has an effect tens and hundreds of times more powerful than that from gamma and beta radiation."
"So all the occupiers who were based in and entrenched in the Red Forest, in almost 30 days, should expect radiation sickness of varying degrees of severity," it added.
In a separate statement, Energoatom said Russian troops who occupied the territory of the Chernobyl plant "also looted and destroyed the offices and laboratory of the Institute for Nuclear Safety. They took away computers, office equipment, smashed or destroyed laboratory equipment and measuring devices, and looted garages with vehicles used to deliver scientists to research sites."
12:14 a.m. ET, April 10, 2022
Zelensky thanks UK for sending more lethal aid, including anti-ship missiles, armored vehicles
From CNN's Hira Humayun and Michelle Velez
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the United Kingdom and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday for providing military support to Ukraine.
In his nightly address posted to social media, Zelensky said, “Boris was among those who didn’t doubt for a minute whether to support Ukraine. The leadership of Great Britain, in providing our country help in defense and also leadership in the sanctions policy, will always be in history.
“Ukraine will always be grateful for this to Boris and Britain,” Zelensky said.
Johnson met with Zelensky in a surprise Saturday visit to Kyiv to outline the UK's plan to provide further financial and military support.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted the UK is sending additional “lethal aid” to Ukraine, including 120 more armored vehicles; new anti-ship missile systems; and $130 million in high-grade military equipment.
"I'm grateful to the United Kingdom that continues and intensifies the sanctions and also provides a significant support of Ukraine by reinforcing our defense capacities,” Zelensky said at a joint press conference with Johnson earlier on Saturday.
“The other democratic Western countries should follow the example of the United Kingdom," Zelensky said.
Later on Saturday in his nightly address, Zelensky said: “Boris Johnson was today very specific also in his responses to my questions, as always. And we have already established with him what help Great Britain will provide for rebuilding Ukraine after the war. The British are ready to lead the restoration of Kyiv and Kyiv region.”
10:54 p.m. ET, April 9, 2022
Russia’s departure from northern Ukraine shows evidence of non-combatants being targeted, UK Military Intelligence says
From CNN’s Michelle Velez
Russia’s departure from northern Ukraine shows evidence of non-combatants being disproportionately targeted, according to a Saturday UK military intelligence update.
The evidence includes mass graves, the fatal use of hostages as human shields and mining of civilian infrastructure, the update said.
“Russian forces continue to use IEDs to inflict casualties, lower morale, and restrict Ukrainian freedom of movement,” the update read.
The update added Russian forces "continue to attack infrastructures with high risk of collateral harm to civilians, including a nitrate acid tank at Rubizhne, Ukraine.”
12:14 a.m. ET, April 10, 2022
Putin appoints new commander for Ukraine
By CNN's Oren Liebermann and Nathan Hodge
Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed a new general to direct the war in Ukraine as his military shifts plans after a failure to take Kyiv, according to a US official and a European official.
The officials told CNN Army Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, commander of Russia’s Southern Military District, has been named theater commander of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine
“It speaks to a Russian acknowledgement that it is going extremely badly and they need to do something differently,” the European official said.
A new theater commander with extensive combat experience could bring a level of coordination to an assault now expected to focus on the Donbas region, instead of multiple fronts.
Dvornikov, 60, was the first commander of Russia’s military operations in Syria, after Putin sent troops there in September 2015 to back the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. During Dvornikov’s command in Syria from September 2015 to June 2016, Russian aircraft backed the Assad regime and its allies as they laid siege to rebel-held eastern Aleppo, bombarding densely populated neighborhoods and causing major civilian casualties. The city fell to Syrian government forces in December 2016.
Russian forces have used a similarly heavy-handed approach in parts of Ukraine, striking residential buildings in major cities and demolishing much of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
“We will see how effective that proves to be,” the European official said. “The Russian doctrine, the Russian tactics remain pretty much as they’ve been since Afghanistan.” “They do things in the same old way,” the official added.
Military analysts and US officials familiar with intelligence assessments have speculated Russia’s generals have a goal of presenting Putin with some tangible battlefield progress ahead of Victory Day on May 9, when Russia observes the defeat of Nazi Germany and traditionally marks the occasion with a parade in Moscow’s Red Square.
The European official described it as a “self-imposed deadline,” that could lead the Russians to make additional mistakes.
But it could also potentially lead Russian forces to commit more atrocities, as allegedly happened in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha while under Russian occupation. “The stench of these war crimes is going to hang over these Russian armed forces for many years,” the official said.
Former UK ambassador to Russia Sir Roderic Lyne told Sky News on Saturday Moscow has appointed a new general with a “pretty savage track record in Syria to try to at least gain some territory in Donetsk that Putin could present as a victory."
Assigning a new overall commander for Russia’s war in Ukraine may be an attempt to create a more cohesive strategy. CNN previously reported that Russia had no theater-wide commander for Ukraine operations, meaning units from different Russian military districts have been operating without coordination and sometimes at cross purposes, according to two US defense officials.
The US has previously assessed Putin would likely name a general whose forces have been operating in Ukraine’s south because that is where the Russians have taken and held more territory, as opposed to the Russian bid to encircle Kyiv and cities in northern Ukraine, an effort that recently ended with a withdrawal.
Ukraine’s General Staff said Friday Russian forces had completed their withdrawal from Ukraine's northern Sumy region, while continuing a buildup of forces in the country's east.