April 11, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Matias Grez, Amy Woodyatt, Travis Caldwell, Jessie Yeung, Ivana Kottasová, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury and Jason Kurtz, CNN

Updated 8:06 a.m. ET, April 12, 2022
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3:45 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

Railway station in eastern Ukraine shelled by Russian forces, rail chief says

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva

A railway station in eastern Ukraine was hit by Russian shelling, the chairman of Ukraine's state railway company said Monday, without providing a specific location.

"Last night another railway station in the east of Ukraine was shelled by Russian troops," chairman Oleksandr Kamyshin said on Telegram.
"They continue to hit, aiming at railway infrastructure. There are no casualties either among civilians or among railway workers."

Five locomotives were damaged, Kamyshin said, as well as tracks and power lines.

"But that's just iron, we will restore that," he said.

Some context: A railway station in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine that was being used by civilians trying to reach safety was hit in a Russian missile strike Friday, authorities said. At least 57 people were killed and 109 were wounded in the attack as of Sunday, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk regional military administration.

Mirroring recent denials of the indiscriminate killing of civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, the Russian Ministry of Defense said Friday the missile strike was a "provocation" and blamed Ukrainian forces.

3:44 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

Russian offensive in Donbas "has already started," says senior Ukrainian official

From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Chernivtsi and Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv

Ukrainian forces fire GRAD rockets toward Russian positions in the country's Donbas region, on April 10.
Ukrainian forces fire GRAD rockets toward Russian positions in the country's Donbas region, on April 10. (Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russia's latest offensive in the eastern Donbas region has begun, a senior Ukrainian official said Monday, warning that Russia continues to amass forces there. 

Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said in remarks on national television, "From my point of view, this big offensive (in eastern Ukraine) has already started."

"We have to understand it's not going to be the repetition of Feb. 24, when the first airstrikes and explosions started and we said, 'The war has begun.' The big offensive de-facto has already started."

Ukrainian and Western officials have said in recent days they have observed movement of Russian troops to Donbas following major setbacks for Moscow in a push to take Kyiv.  

"Russians are accumulating their forces," Denysenko said. "They continue to redeploy their troops and equipment to Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
"Yes, there are still no major battles that are being discussed so much in the past few days. But in general we could say the offensive has already started."

Denysenko noted explosions overnight in the Dnipropetrovsk region and said the shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, had also continued. 

Serhii Haidai, head of Ukraine's Luhansk regional military administration, said Ukrainian authorities were organizing an "enhanced evacuation" in the Donbas, adding more evacuation trains from Luhansk and Donetsk are scheduled for April 11.

2:33 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

New Zealand to send Hercules aircraft, personnel to Europe to aid Ukraine

From CNN's Angus Watson and Akanksha Sharma

In this file photo from Jan. 20, 2022, , a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules is seen taking off from Auckland, New Zealand, to deliver humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies to Tonga.
In this file photo from Jan. 20, 2022, , a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules is seen taking off from Auckland, New Zealand, to deliver humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies to Tonga. (NZDF/Handout/Xinhua/Getty Images)

New Zealand will deploy a C-130H Hercules transport aircraft and 50 support personnel to Europe on Wednesday for two months, a statement from the New Zealand government said Monday.

The team will travel throughout Europe transporting equipment and supplies to distribution centers for Ukraine but will not enter the country itself, the statement said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand's support “is to assist the Ukraine Army to repel a brutal Russian invasion because peace in the region of Europe is essential for global stability.”
“Such a blatant attack on a country’s sovereignty is a threat to all of us and that’s why we too have a role to play,” she said.

New Zealand is also contributing $8.8 million (NZ$13 million) in further support to help Ukraine procure equipment for its military via the United Kingdom, the statement added.

2:01 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

Ukrainian lawmaker: Military buildup near Kharkiv will pose "additional humanitarian threat"

From CNN's Travis Caldwell

The regrouping of Russian military forces will exacerbate an already-dire situation for civilians trapped in areas of fighting in eastern Ukraine, a Ukrainian lawmaker said Sunday.

Maria Mezentseva, a member of Ukraine's parliament, told CNN's Brianna Keilar that the Russian presence near Kharkiv — close to the border with Russia — along with the difficulties for aid organizations to help those fleeing “poses an additional humanitarian threat to small towns located next to Kharkiv which we cannot reach.”

Access to towns outside Kharkiv is being blocked, she said, and she called for Russia to open more safe-passage corridors.

“It means that we don't know how many more Buchas might be uncovered, unfortunately,” she said, referring to the Kyiv suburb where atrocities were committed against civilians during Russian military occupation.

Russian forces are allowing some civilian departures, Mezentseva said, but they are often being directed into Russian-occupied territories, Belarus or Russia itself.

“We understand that it's a simple breach of human rights,” she said. “A person who attacked you is inviting you to go with them or, let's say, to move to Russia. That's absolutely unacceptable. Moreover, they are forcibly depriving people from their identities, passports, and leaving them no choice.”

Some context: 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.

CNN's Julia Presniakova, Kostan Nechyporenko and Vanessa Price contributed to this post.

Read more about Ukrainians forced to enter Russian territory:

1:12 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

Analysis: Can Russia reboot its war in Ukraine in time for Putin to claim a victory?

Analysis from CNN's Nathan Hodge

Russian President Vladimir Putin has a new general overseeing his war in Ukraine, and his military commanders are signaling a new phase in the war: an all-out effort to take and hold the portions of Ukraine's Donbas region still under Ukrainian control.

Ukrainians seem to be taking that threat at face value. In the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, local officials have been urging many communities to evacuate, opening up humanitarian corridors for civilians to leave for safer parts of Ukraine.

In northeastern Kharkiv region, authorities are evacuating the towns of Barvinkove and Lozova. In Dnipro, a regional capital in east-central Ukraine, the mayor, Borys Filatov, has requested that women, children and the elderly leave.

"The situation is gradually heating up in Donbas, and we understand that April will be quite hot," Filatov said recently. "Therefore, a huge request: Everyone who has the opportunity (as I have said repeatedly) to leave — first of all, this applies to women, children, and older people who are not involved in the work of critical infrastructure."

Can Russia mount a terrifying new offensive in the east?

Read the full analysis:

12:17 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

Analysis: The West plans to increase its military aid to Ukraine with Russia planning its next big assault

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

Western leaders are grappling with how far to escalate their military aid to Ukraine as the Russian invasion seems headed for a brutal new turn, a decision that may rest on whether the West's goal is to push for a total defeat of President Vladimir Putin.

Heroic resistance from Ukrainian troops, with the help of Western anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, has already claimed a famous victory — the saving of Kyiv and the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky. But now, Russia has named a new general to lead what has been a chaotic war effort and is grouping its forces in eastern Ukraine for a fearsome, concentrated assault that could stretch Ukraine's outnumbered forces as never before.

The shift of strategy is forcing Western leaders to consider their own willingness to provide more offensive armaments to Kyiv ahead of what is shaping up to be a vicious battle that could dictate how much of Ukraine survives as a nation-state.

Pressure on the West to do more is being exacerbated by the fact that Russia's new approach augurs yet more carnage for the civilians that it has been deliberately targeting with a vicious war plan.

Read the full analysis:

11:59 p.m. ET, April 10, 2022

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Ukrainian authorities are preparing for an anticipated major offensive in the country's east, with a new general leading Russian forces.

Here's the latest:

  • Ukraine "ready": During a Sunday night address to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia would launch full-scale combat actions in the east, but said: "we are ready." He also accused the Russian leadership of "lying" in an attempt to shift responsibility for the war. “They have destroyed the lives of millions. They started a full-scale war and act as if we are to blame for this,” he said.
  • Train station strike: The death toll has risen to 57 from a Russian missile strike Friday on a railway station in Kramatorsk that was being used by civilians trying to flee the fighting. Clean-up operations at the site have begun, with workers gathering debris, scattered documents, and human remains.
  • Russia-Ukraine talks: Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Sunday it would be "extremely difficult" to even think about negotiations after alleged Russian atrocities, citing Kramatorsk and the town of Bucha, where the mayor estimates as many as 300 people died under Russia's occupation. However, Kuleba, said, if talks can help prevent "at least one massacre ... I have to take that opportunity."
  • Evacuation corridors: Nine routes were agreed for Sunday, covering the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.
  • New general: Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed a new general to direct the war after troops failed to take Kyiv, according to US and European officials. The new general was the first commander of Russia's military operations in Syria, after Putin sent troops there in September 2015 to back the Syrian regime. Under the general's command, Russian aircraft laid siege to rebel-held eastern Aleppo, causing major civilian casualties.
  • Nuclear shift change: Staff at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant have carried out just their second rotation since the invasion began. Russian forces withdrew from the plant on March 31, and it is now under Ukrainian control —  but the Russians left labs and equipment destroyed and looted, authorities say.
10:57 p.m. ET, April 10, 2022

Russian teacher says students reported her for making anti-war comments in class room

From CNN’s Maija Ehlinger, Susanna Capelouto, and Josh Pennington

A teacher in western Russia has been under criminal investigation since late March for making anti-war comments in the classroom that were secretly recorded by students, according to an April 7 interview on Radio Liberty.

Irina Gen, 45, was an English teacher at an elite school for young athletes in the country, many of whom qualify for major championships abroad.

In an audio recording published on Telegram on March 31, a student is heard asking Gen why Russia had been banned from the upcoming multi-sport European Championships.  

"So long as Russia doesn’t behave itself in a civilized manner, this will go on forever," Gen replied in the recording. "They began to bomb Western Ukraine ... They wanted to get to Kyiv, to overthrow Zelensky and the government. This is, by the way, a sovereign state. There’s a sovereign government there."
"Well, we don’t know all the particulars," a female student said.
"Exactly! You (plural) don’t know anything. In fact, you don’t know anything at all," Gen replied. "We've got a totalitarian regime here in place. Any kind of dissidence is regarded a thought crime. We all will be sent away for 15 years."

The conversation was recorded on March 18, according to Gen's interview with Radio Liberty. She believes her students' parents "persuaded the children to make a recording, which would be handed over to the authorities." 

Authorities alerted: Gen said a Russian Federal Security officer came to the school on March 23, and told her she "had made a big mistake" by telling the students about Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure including the bombings in Mariupol — which Russian authorities have denied.

"It never occurred to me that someone could snitch on their teacher, or anyone else for that matter," Gen told Radio Liberty. She resigned from her position on April 1.

Jail threat: Gen is being investigated for violating a new censorship law that bans the spread of so-called "false information" discrediting the Russian military. It carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to 5 million rubles (about $60,000).

Gen told Radio Liberty she hoped she would only be given a fine, and not made an example of. "There will definitely be an excruciating trial waiting for me. And then a verdict, which will dictate how I can begin to build my life anew," she said 

CNN has reached out to Gen's lawyer for comment on the case. The Human Rights media project OVD-info says Gen is under house arrest.

9:18 p.m. ET, April 10, 2022

Ukraine carries out staff rotation at Chernobyl nuclear power plant, where Russians left equipment destroyed

From CNN's Akanksha Sharma 

A general view shows the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure over the old sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine November 22, 2018.
A general view shows the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure over the old sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine November 22, 2018. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

Chernobyl nuclear power plant staff have rotated for the first time in three weeks, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Sunday, citing Ukrainian authorities.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it's only the second time that staff have changed since the invasion began.

The shift change was important "for the safe and secure operation of the (Chernobyl power plant), which was controlled by the Russian military for five weeks until they withdrew on 31 March," IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

Destroyed equipment: Ukraine told the IAEA that the plant's analytical laboratories for radiation monitoring were “destroyed and the analytical instruments stolen, broken or otherwise disabled,” according to the IAEA.

“While it is very positive that Ukrainian authorities are gradually restoring regulatory control of the (Chernobyl) site, it is clear that a lot of work remains to return the site to normality," Grossi warned.

Petro Kotin, the head of Ukraine's state nuclear power operator, also said in a statement last week that Russian troops "looted and destroyed the offices and laboratory of the Institute for Nuclear Safety," saying they "smashed or destroyed laboratory equipment and measuring devices, and looted garages with vehicles used to deliver scientists to research sites."

Some context: Chernobyl, the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster, fell into the hands of Russian troops in the first week of the war in Ukraine, in late February. 

On March 31, Russian troops announced their intention to leave and handed over control to Ukrainian personnel. The plant is now back under the control of Ukrainian authorities.

On April 6, Ukrainian authorities released new drone video showing abandoned Russian military positions, including vacant pits and trenches — in a highly radioactively contaminated area of the uninhabitable exclusion zone near the plant.