April 14, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Helen Regan, Travis Caldwell and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, April 15, 2022
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3:33 p.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Russian officials allege cross-border strikes by Ukrainian forces amid threat of retaliation by Moscow 

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Lviv and Kostan Nechyporenko in Vasylkiv

Russian officials on Thursday alleged Ukrainian forces had carried out cross-border attacks on Russian territory, claims that a Ukrainian government agency said were made to stoke "anti-Ukrainian sentiment."

The village of Spodaryushino, near the border with Ukraine, had been shelled by Ukraine, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia's Belgorod region, said in a statement on Telegram.

He said there were no casualties or destruction of residential buildings, but added that residents in two villages, Bezymeno and Spodaryushino, had been evacuated. Later in the day, Gladkov said in a separate statement there had been "shelling from the Ukrainian side" on the village of Zhuravlyovka, also in Belgorod region, adding that there had been damage to residential buildings and social facilities, but no information about casualties.

The alleged strikes come days after Russia accused Ukraine of mounting a helicopter attack on a fuel depot in Belgorod region. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense neither confirmed nor denied the attack.

Separately, the Investigative Committee, Russia's top law-enforcement body, issued a statement Thursday saying it was launching an investigation into an alleged strike in Bryansk region by Ukrainian helicopters.

"On April 14, 2022, using two combat helicopters equipped with heavy offensive weapons, military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine illegally entered the airspace of the Russian Federation. Moving at low altitude, they carried out at least 6 air strikes on residential buildings in the village of Klimovo, Klimovsky district, Bryansk region," the statement said.

Klimovo is situated north of Ukraine's Chernihiv oblast. The Investigative Committee said at least six residential buildings were damaged and that seven people were injured, including one child.

More context: The Russian military in a statement Wednesday threatened to strike "decision-making centers" including those Kyiv in response to what Russia said were "attempts of sabotage and strikes" on Russian territory.

Such claims were part of an attempt by Russia to stage so-called false flag attacks to justify attacking Ukraine and stir popular outrage, said the Center for Countering Disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.

"Russia has stated that the Armed Forces of Ukraine shelled the Bryansk region's border area with helicopters, injuring civilians and homes," the statement read. "However, Ukrainian intelligence warned that Russia was preparing terrorist attacks on its territory to inject anti-Ukrainian sentiment." 

The Ukrainian center's statement alleged that Russian special services had plans to stage "terrorist attacks" on Russian soil as a provocation. 

"Thus, as of April 14, there have been several 'terrorist attacks' on the Russian border, in which the Russian leadership accuses Ukrainian sabotage and intelligence groups," the statement read, citing Russian statements about alleged attacks. 

3:19 p.m. ET, April 14, 2022

CIA director warns Russian threat of tactical nuclear weapons should not be taken "lightly"

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis

CIA Director Bill Burns testifies during a Senate hearing in Washington, DC in 2021.
CIA Director Bill Burns testifies during a Senate hearing in Washington, DC in 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images)

The United States does not “take lightly” the possibility that Russia could seek to use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine as Moscow continues to face difficulties on the battlefield, CIA Director Bill Burns said Thursday.

"Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they've faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low yield nuclear weapons,” he said in public remarks at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The CIA “watch[es] for that very intently,” Burns said. But he emphasized that the US has yet to see any signs that Russia is preparing to take such a step.

"While we've seen some rhetorical posturing on the part of the Kremlin about moving to higher nuclear alert levels, so far we haven't seen a lot of practical evidence of the kind of deployments or military dispositions that would reinforce that concern—but we watch for that very intently,” Burns said.

Still, in the same remarks, Burns warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin has become increasingly isolated and his "risk appetite has grown as his grip on Russia has tightened.”

“His circle of advisors has narrowed and in that small circle it has never been career-enhancing to question his judgment or his stubborn, almost mystical belief that his destiny is to restore Russia's sphere of influence,” Burns said.

1:24 p.m. ET, April 14, 2022

US President Biden says he's deciding on whether to send a senior administration official to Ukraine

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Joe Biden speaks on Tuesday, April 12.
President Joe Biden speaks on Tuesday, April 12. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

US President Joe Biden said Thursday he was still working with his team to determine whether he should dispatch a senior member of his administration to Ukraine, a potentially dramatic show of support for the nation as it comes under attack from Russia.

"We're making that decision now," Biden said when asked whether he would send a senior official to Ukraine. Asked who he would send, Biden turned back to a reporter and said, "You ready to go?"

The White House echoed Biden's comments, saying "we’re still in discussions, deciding this."

"As you know, obviously we’re in contact with the Ukrainian government every day – pretty regularly and so I just don’t have anything to preview any further,” principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One when pressed for further information.

Since Russian forces withdrew from the region surrounding Kyiv, a number of Western leaders have made their way to the Ukrainian capital to demonstrate support.

US officials have held preliminary discussions about sending a high-ranking member of the administration to Ukraine, according to a source familiar with the talks.

While Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are unlikely to visit Kyiv themselves anytime soon, officials have discussed sending Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin or Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Still, sources said a decision is far from finalized and the visit could ultimately not materialize. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv last weekend. US officials said afterward that Biden was not currently planning a trip of his own. 

"We're not currently planning a trip by the President of the United States to Ukraine," press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday. She said more important that a presidential visit was a continued supply of weapons and support.

"What is most important to the Ukrainian leadership is that we are expediting weapons and getting them the assistance and security systems they need and that is what our focus is on," she said.

In a telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday, Biden informed his counterpart of a new $800 million security assistance package, including 11 Mi-17 helicopters, 300 Switchblade drones, 18 Howitzers and protective equipment to guard against chemical attacks.

Read more about the potential trip here.

CNN's Betsy Klein contributed reporting to this post.

12:55 p.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Russian troops that left northern Ukraine are now appearing in Donbas ahead of expected military push

From CNN's Barbara Starr and Jamie Crawford

The first Russian troops that had left northern Ukraine have begun appearing in the northern Donbas region of eastern Ukraine in preparation for what is expected to be a major push by thousands of Russian forces a senior US defense official said Thursday. 

“They already have a significant amount of forces in the region," the official told reporters on Thursday. "We would assess that inside Ukraine itself, there’s 65 total operational BTGs. And they are, of the 65, they’re really in that east and south parts of Ukraine. There really isn’t any operation BTGs outside southern and eastern Ukraine ... They will try to insert additional BTGs over coming days. We just haven’t seen that really pan out of late."

These are some of the units that had left northern Ukraine and the areas north of Kyiv in recent weeks to go back to Russia and Belarus for resupply and reinforcement before going to Donbas, the official noted.

1:23 p.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Pentagon "mindful of the clock" as it works to ship newly approved military assistance to Ukraine

From CNN's Michael Conte and Jamie Crawford

The Pentagon is working to move the $800 million worth of weapons, ammunition and other security assistance for Ukraine announced by US President Joe Biden yesterday into Ukraine as quickly as possible, a senior defense official said Thursday.

“We’re under no illusion of the size and the scale of this thing. But we’re also mindful of the clock. We know time is not our friend. And we’re going to do the best we can to move this, to move these shipments as fast as we can,” the official told reporters during an off-camera briefing while adding “we’re going to front-load them with the kinds of capabilities that we know the Ukrainians need the most.” 

The new weapons package represents the starkest sign to date that the war in Ukraine is shifting — and with it, the weapons Ukraine will need if it hopes to continue to stymie a Russian military that has regrouped and resupplied after its initial failures in the opening weeks of the war. 

But the official said the material will not arrive all in one shipment.

“A package that size is going to take many shipments. I mean, the last $800 million dollars for instance took more than 20 individual shipments to close it out,” the official said. “I can assure you we’ll move with the same sense of urgency that we’ve been moving with.”

In addition, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba on Thursday to discuss the latest security assistance package to Ukraine, according to the US State Department.

“They noted that the steady supply of materiel from the United States and its Allies and partners has been instrumental in Ukraine’s successful fight against Russia’s forces. The Secretary provided an update on the most recent U.S. and global efforts to hold the Kremlin and its enablers accountable. The Secretary commended the bravery of the Ukrainian people, noting in particular those defending Mariupol,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

CNN's Jennifer Hansler contributed reporting to this post.

1:13 p.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Canada to deploy up to 150 troops to Poland to assist Ukrainian refugees

From CNN's Amy Cassidy in London  

Ukrainian refugees cross into Medyka, Poland on April 9.
Ukrainian refugees cross into Medyka, Poland on April 9. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Canada will deploy up to 150 military personnel in the coming days to Poland to support Warsaw’s efforts in assisting Ukrainian refugees, Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand announced on Thursday.  

“To help address the growing crisis at the border between Poland and Ukraine, I am announcing today the deployment of up to 150 Canadian armed forces personnel with approximately 100 personnel in the immediate term, who will assist Poland's efforts to support and assist Ukrainians fleeing violence,” Anand said, speaking from Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario, a departure point for the country’s military aid to Ukraine.  

Ukrainian speakers will lead the Canadian Armed Forces’ largest component of the deployment at processing centers in Poland to provide general support, spiritual services, and limited medical care, she said. 

A number of Canadian troops will also be deployed to support a Polish-led humanitarian task force, while a third group will act as a liaison between Polish defense forces and Canadian immigration officials to facilitate the resettlement of “thousands more Ukrainians” in Canada, she said. 

“These efforts are being carried out as part of our Operation Reassurance – Canada’s contribution to NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures in central and eastern Europe — which we recently expanded and extended over the past few months,” the defense minister continued. 

Canada will commit a further $396 million ($500 million in Canadian dollars) in military aid to Ukraine on top of the $87 million ($110 million in Canadian dollars) already pledged, “so that our Ukrainian friends have the equipment that they need to keep fighting this war and to win," according to Anand. 

Canada is home to the world’s largest Ukrainian diaspora after Russia, with more than a million Canadians who claim Ukrainian heritage.  

12:38 p.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Turkey still working to bring Russian and Ukrainian presidents to the negotiating table, foreign minister says

From CNN’s Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul and Celine Alkhaldi in Abu Dhabi

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks to media at NATO Headquarters on April 6 in Brussels, Belgium.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks to media at NATO Headquarters on April 6 in Brussels, Belgium. (Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Turkey is still working on organizing a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkish news channel NTV on Thursday.

“We know critical topics will be decided at leader level, so we will try to bring leaders together,” he said.

Cavusoglu said that Turkey continues to approach the negotiations with “cautious optimism,” particularly after recent events of alleged war crimes in Bucha and Irpin which “negatively affected the process.”

“The inhumane images from regions such as Bucha and Irpin, which we also condemn, changed the atmosphere. It created a negative atmosphere on the Ukrainian side. While there were different statements by the Russian Federation regarding this, this ultimately negatively affected the negotiation process," he said.

“Despite all those challenges, President Zelensky said talks may continue… But it takes two leaders to say yes. Especially President Putin,” he added.

The foreign minister said that while there is possibility of a ceasefire, “if the fighting lasts and new attacks happen in Donbas, this will be harder to reach.”

Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told President Putin that he would like to bring him together with President Zelensky, following an in-person meeting that was held between Russian and Ukrainian negotiation delegations in Istanbul in March.

 

11:47 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Opposition leader Navalny calls on West to launch huge social media campaign against "Putin's insane regime"

From CNN's Tim Lister

Alexey Navalny attends a rally in Moscow, Russia in 2019.
Alexey Navalny attends a rally in Moscow, Russia in 2019. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny has issued a series of tweets urging a new front of "truth and free information" against Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he calls the "war criminal from the Kremlin." 

Navalny, who is serving a nine-year sentence in a Russian penal colony after being convicted of fraud last month, said in his tweets that "truth and free information hit Putin's insane regime just as hard as Javelins," the US anti-tank weapons being used by Ukrainian forces against Russian armor. 

Navalny said the Kremlin has lied in asserting there is widespread public support in Russia for the war, asking: "What kind of sociology is there even to talk about when both the question 'Do you support the war in Ukraine?' and the answer 'no' could result in 15 years of imprisonment for the sociologist and the respondent respectively?" 

He pointed to criminal cases brought against Russian individuals, saying that one man was arrested in Moscow for standing in the street holding Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace." 

Navalny said that "Russia has shut down and blocked ALL independent media, including the rather cautious ones, in just a month and a half. Would this have been necessary if the war with Ukraine really had that kind of support?" 

But he acknowledged that the shutdown is "slowly doing [its] job," as most Russians "have a completely distorted view of what is happening in Ukraine." 

Navalny called for a new campaign to get the facts in front of the Russian public, saying that "more than 85% of Russian adults still use @YouTube, @instagram, @WhatsApp, @Google and Facebook (@Meta) every day." 

"We need ads. Lots of ads. A huge national anti-war campaign will start with an advertising campaign," he said. 

Navalny urged Western leaders and institutions, including US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the European Union, "to urgently find a solution to crush Putin's propaganda using the advertising power of social media." 

"Even if such advertising is bought for the full commercial price, its cost will be laughable compared to the price of this war," Navalny said, adding: "One shot from Javelin costs $230,000. For the same money we would get 200 million ad views in different formats and provide at least 300,000 link clicks or at least 8 million views on a video with the truth about what is happening in Ukraine." 

He ended his appeal by writing: "It should be an unprecedented huge national advertising campaign. Just like in a real election. Our candidate Peace versus Putin's candidate War.” 

“And Peace must win. We can’t allow any other outcome." 

11:39 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

US assesses Russian warship still battling fire, but cannot confirm cause, defense official says

From CNN's Michael Conte 

The United States assesses that the Russian cruiser Moskva is still battling a fire onboard but still cannot confirm what caused the damage, according to a senior US defense official.

The official also said that the ship is moving east, and the US assumes it will be heading to the port of Sevastopol for repairs.

The US has seen that other Russian ships in the northern Black Sea near the Moskva have all subsequently moved further south, according to the official.

Ukraine claimed to have hit Moskva with a missile, while Russia said the cause of the fire is still “being established” and that there is no “open fire” on the ship.

“We cannot confirm what caused the damage to the cruiser Moskva. We do believe that she has experienced significant damage. Our assessment is that she still appears to be battling a fire onboard. But we do not know the extent of the damage. We don’t know anything about casualties to her crew. And we cannot definitely say at this point what caused that damage,” the US official said.

“We hold the ship moving to the east. Our assumption is that she’ll be heading to Sevastopol for repairs. But that’s really all we can say. The only other maritime activity worth noting is that we did note that other Black Sea ships that were operating in the vicinity of her or in the northern Black Sea have all moved further south, in the wake of the damage that the Moskva experienced. So they’ve all, all of the northern Black Sea ships have now moved out, away from the northern areas where they were operating in,” the official added.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby echoed similar comments in an interview with CNN earlier Thursday, saying that “there was an explosion” on the Russian cruiser, but that the United States cannot assess at this point if the ship was hit by a missile.