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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7:26 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

Tens of thousands of dead in Mariupol, Zelensky says

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

Residents carry their belongings near destroyed buildings in Mariupol, on April 10.
Residents carry their belongings near destroyed buildings in Mariupol, on April 10. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Weeks of relentless Russian bombardment have left "tens of thousands of dead" in the port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday.

In a video address to the South Korean parliament, Zelensky described the ordeal of the southern city.

"[Mariupol] has been blocked by Russian troops since March 1. It was a city of half a million. Half a million people. The occupiers blocked it and did not even allow food and water to be brought there," he said, adding:

They tried to capture it in the most brutal way -- just to destroy everything in the city. Mariupol is destroyed. There are tens of thousands of dead. But even so, the Russians are not stopping the offensive. They want to make Mariupol a showcase of a ruined city.

Independent estimates of the full death toll in Mariupol are not available.

A Ukrainian military commander currently in Mariupol told CNN Wednesday night that Russian military forces are trying to wipe the besieged city “off the face of the Earth.”

“It is a humanitarian catastrophe. The military that were involved in active hostilities here are completely surrounded. There are supply problems with water, food, medication and general supply. It’s a very difficult situation,” said Serhiy Volyna, deputy commander of the Marine Battalion in Mariupol.

7:03 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

Austrian Chancellor will tell Vladimir Putin the truth about the war, "eye to eye"

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin, Sara Maz and Mia Alberti

Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer talks during a news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, on Saturday.
Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer talks during a news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, on Saturday. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer intends to tell Russian President Vladimir Putin “the truth” about the war in Ukraine during their face to face meeting in Moscow on Monday, according to a top Austrian official.

Nehammer is set to be the first EU leader to meet with Putin since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began in late February.

He visited Kyiv to meet Ukraine's President Volodymy Zelensky on Saturday.

Speaking ahead of an EU meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told reporters "it makes a difference to be face to face and tell him what the reality is: that this president has de facto lost the war morally."

It should be in his own interest that someone tells him the truth. I think it is important and we owe it to ourselves if we want to save human lives.

"The reason for the meeting is that we don’t want to miss any opportunity, we must use every chance to end the humanitarian hellish situation in Ukraine ... every voice that will help Putin to see the reality outside of the wall of Kremlin is not a lost voice," Schallenberg added.

Some background: Nehammer's trip to Moscow is significant given his country's neutral status, which is enshrined in its constitution.

Austria is not part of NATO and does not supply weapons to Ukraine. It has, however, provided Ukraine with humanitarian aid and helmets and protection vests for civilian use, according to a statement from the Austrian Chancellery.

Nehammer said Saturday that while his country is militarily neutral, "we understand we have to help where injustice and war crimes take place."

7:02 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

Volodymyr Zelensky asks South Korea for weapons

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo and Gawon Bae in Seoul, South Korea

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses South Korean parliament in Seoul via video link on Monday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses South Korean parliament in Seoul via video link on Monday. (Chung Sung-Jun/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has used his address to South Korea's parliament on Monday to ask for weapons to aid his country's defense against Russia -- even though South Korea's Defence Ministry has denied the request earlier.

"Ukraine needs support for its military, including planes and tanks," Zelensky told lawmakers, adding:

"South Korea can help Ukraine. South Korea has various defense systems that could defend against Russian tanks, ships, and missiles. We would be grateful if South Korea could help us to fight Russia. If Ukraine can have these weapons, they will not only save the lives of ordinary people, but they’ll save Ukraine."

Earlier on Monday, South Korea's Defence Ministry spokesperson Boo Seung-chan said the ministry had denied Ukraine's request for an anti-air weapon system and that they cannot provide lethal weapons considering its own "national security situation and military readiness posture."

Seoul has consistently said it would not provide lethal weapons or deploy its military to support Ukraine. Last month, it provided non-lethal military supplies worth around $800,000, including bulletproof helmets, tents, blankets, bedspreads, ready-to-eat meals (MREs), first aid kits and medicines, a defence ministry official confirmed to CNN at the time.

On Monday, Zelensky again appealed for Seoul's support, referencing in his speech the international community's support for South Korea during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953.

6:06 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

Russian invasion will shrink Ukraine’s economy by half, World Bank estimates

From CNN’s Chris Liakos in London

A shopping mall damaged by shelling is seen in Hostomel, in the Kyiv region, on April 8.
A shopping mall damaged by shelling is seen in Hostomel, in the Kyiv region, on April 8. (Hennadii Minchenko/Ukrinform/Future Publishing)

The World Bank has warned Ukraine’s economy will shrink by half this year because of the Russian invasion.

In an economic update of the region, the World Bank said Sunday that Ukraine’s economy is expected to shrink by an estimated 45.1 percent this year, “although the magnitude of the contraction will depend on the duration and intensity of the war.”

Anna Bjerde, World Bank Vice President for the Europe and Central Asia region, said the "magnitude of the humanitarian crisis unleashed by the war is staggering. The Russian invasion is delivering a massive blow to Ukraine’s economy and it has inflicted enormous damage to infrastructure.” She added:

Ukraine needs massive financial support immediately as it struggles to keep its economy going and the government running to support Ukrainian citizens who are suffering and coping with an extreme situation.”

World Bank forecasts that Russia’s economy will contract by 11.2 percent in 2022 following tough sanctions.

Other economies affected: The bank also warned that emerging and developing economies in Europe and Central Asia will be hit hard.

“In addition to Russia and Ukraine, Belarus, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova and Tajikistan are projected to fall into recession this year, while growth projections have been downgraded in all economies due to spillovers from the war, weaker-than-expected growth in the euro area, and commodity, trade and financing shocks.”

Wheat prices rise: Russia and Ukraine account for about 40percent of wheat imports in the region and about 75 percent or more in Central Asia and the South Caucasus, according to the World Bank.

“The war has pushed wheat prices higher as it disrupts Ukraine’s planting and harvest seasons, including for other crops such as corn, barley, and sunflowers; destroys critical fields, stores, infrastructure, and production, especially in eastern Ukraine; and halts shipping from the Black Sea, from which about 90 percent of Ukraine’s grains are exported," the World Bank said in the report.

Russian ports are operating, but insurance costs have soared due to the conflict and inhibited cargoes from leaving Russia, World Bank noted.

7:01 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

Kharkiv endures more heavy shelling

From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Chernivtsi

A man stands next to an apartment building damaged by shelling in Kharkiv, on Sunday.
A man stands next to an apartment building damaged by shelling in Kharkiv, on Sunday. (Andrew Marienko/AP)

Russian shelling against Kharkiv and its surrounding regions continued on Monday, according to Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional military administration.

Some context: Ukrainian officials say major fighting is underway in the east of the country, with heavy shelling reported throughout the Donbas region.

Ukraine's defense intelligence chief told CNN Friday that Russian troops were 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.

"Last night there were about 66 reports of shelling from Grad and Smerch multiple rocket launchers, artillery and tanks," Syniehubov said. "The battles were fought in Zolochiv district, that is in the direction of Derhachiv. Residential areas [of Kharkiv], residential districts of Pyatihatky, Saltivka, Oleksiyivka, the Kharkiv Tractor Plant and Kholodna Hora were affected again."

Children among the dead: Syniehubov said 11 civilians were killed the previous day, including a seven-year-old child, and that more than 14 people were injured.

Ukrainian officials have reported heavy fighting around Izium, in southern Kharkiv region, which Syniehubov described as the "most critical" area at present.

He said evacuations continued from the towns of Lozova and Barvinkove.

Syniehubov said that more than 2,000 houses have been destroyed in Kharkiv region, and added that plans for planting agricultural land were be curtailed by the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance.

"We plan to sow 60-80% of the arable land in Kharkiv region," he said. "It depends on the military situation. In some places the fields are mined ... The arable land was damaged by explosions."

5:47 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

Russian shelling continues in Donetsk and Luhansk, UK Ministry of Defense says

From CNN's From Sarah Diab in London

Firefighters put out a fire caused by shelling in a residential area in the village of Yelenovka in Donetsk, on  April 10.
Firefighters put out a fire caused by shelling in a residential area in the village of Yelenovka in Donetsk, on April 10. (Leon Klein/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Shelling by Russian armed forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine continued on Monday, according to a report by the UK Ministry of Defense. 

Ukrainian forces have repulsed several assaults resulting in the destruction of Russian tanks, vehicles, and artillery equipment, according to the assessment. 

The UK report has also said that Russia's prior use of phosphorous munitions in Donetsk "raises the possibility of their future employment in Mariupol as fighting for the city intensifies.”

According to Human Rights Watch, "white phosphorus can burn people to the bone, smolder inside the body, and reignite when bandages are removed."

The munitions are either banned or circumscribed under international law in populated areas.

A great increase in civilian casualties is also a risk, according to the UK military intelligence report, because of Russia’s continued reliance on unguided bombs which "decreases their ability to discriminate when targeting and conducting strikes".

Some background: Local officials in Donetsk and Luhansk have been urging many communities to evacuate.

Nine humanitarian corridors were agreed for Sunday -- covering the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia -- allowing civilians to leave for safer parts of Ukraine.

Maria Mezentseva, a member of Ukraine's parliament, has called for Russia to open more safe-passage corridors.

5:31 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

Credit ratings agency S&P Global places Russia under "selective default" on its foreign debt

From CNN’s Chris Liakos, Clare Sebastian and Anna Cooban in London

Credit ratings agency S&P Global has placed Russia under "selective default" on its foreign debt after the country offered rubles for payments on two dollar-denominated bonds due on April 4th.

The agency said in a press release that paying in rubles instead of dollars amounted to a “selective default.”

What is selective default? According to S&P, selective default is declared when an entity has defaulted on a specific obligation but not its entire debt.

Some background: Last week the US Treasury blocked Russia from accessing its foreign currency reserves in American banks, forcing Moscow to offer to pay its debts in rubles, diverting foreign currency revenue that would otherwise be used to prop up its war effort, or not pay at all.

The US Treasury had been allowing Russia to use some of its frozen assets to pay back certain investors in dollars until then.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a press conference Wednesday that a default would be “artificial” because Russia has dollars to pay but cannot access them due to the sanctions.

“There are no grounds for a real default,” Peskov said. “Not even close.”

Russia to sue: Speaking to the pro-Kremlin Izvestia newspaper Monday, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Russia would launch a legal action over the issue.

“We will sue, because we undertook all necessary action so that investors would receive their payments. We will show the court proof of our payments, to confirm our efforts to pay in rubles, just as we did in foreign currency. It won't be a simple process.”

10:20 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

EU discussing a sixth package of sanctions against Russia, Danish foreign minster says

CNN’s James Frater in Brussels

 Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Sebastian Kofod speaks to media in the file photo from March 21, in the EU Council headquarters in Brussels.
 Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Sebastian Kofod speaks to media in the file photo from March 21, in the EU Council headquarters in Brussels. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

The European Union is “already discussing a sixth package of sanctions” in an effort “to keep increasing pressure on Russia to stop the war,” Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said Monday.

“From the Danish side, we will be willing to go as far as we can to find consensus on sanctions, including also on energy,” he told reporters when arriving for a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg.

Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister, said he was "happy that the European Commission was very clear that we're starting to work on six package with oil options.”

“And I hope that this time, it works.”

Asked what more is needed from the EU, Landsbergis said it was "best to go to Kyiv, go to Irpin, go to Bucha and see for yourself why we need to impose the sanctions."

Some background: Europe has imposed punishing sanctions on Russia's economy after Putin's tanks rolled into Ukraine in late February, but stopped short of targeting Russia's energy sector.

But images of unarmed civilians, bound and shot, lying along the roads of Bucha -- a town that was until recently under Russian occupation -- appear to have convinced leaders to change tack.

Russia's oil and gas could be the next target. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told EU lawmakers last week that the fifth round of sanctions "will not be [the] last."

"Yes, we've now banned coal, but now we have to look into oil," she said.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that the EU needed to take a “maximalist approach to sanctions to offer the strongest possible deterrent to the continuation of this war and brutality.”

The view of the Irish Government that further sanctions should include oil, he said.

War crimes investigated: The European Union's High Representative Joseph Borell confirmed that European Foreign Ministers will also discuss how to better support the International Criminal Court in investigating war crimes committed in Ukraine.

5:04 a.m. ET, April 11, 2022

It's 12 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's the latest on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities are preparing for a major Russian offensive in the country's east, saying the latest push by Russian forces in eastern Donbas region has already begun.

Here's the latest:

  • New general: Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed a new general to direct the war after Russian troops failed to take over Kyiv, according to US and European officials. The officials told CNN that Army General Alexander Dvornikov, the commander of Russia’s Southern Military District, has been named as theater commander of the campaign in Ukraine. He was the first commander of Russia's military operations in Syria. Under his command, Russian aircraft laid siege to rebel-held eastern Aleppo, causing major civilian casualties.

  • Ukraine "ready": Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia would launch full-scale combat actions in the east, but said: "we are ready." Speaking during a TV address, he also accused the Russian leadership of "lying" in an attempt to shift responsibility for the war.

  • Train station strike: The death toll from a Russian missile strike on a railway station in Kramatorsk on Friday has risen to 57. Another 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. No casualties among civilians or railway workers were reported.

  • 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 examples from Kramatorsk and the town of Bucha. However, Kuleba said that 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.