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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9:41 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

One of Russia's most important warships was damaged in the Black Sea. Here's what we know about the ship.

From CNN's Brad Lendon

The Russian Navy's guided missile cruiser Moskva sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul, on June 18, 2021.
The Russian Navy's guided missile cruiser Moskva sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul, on June 18, 2021. (Yoruk Isik/Reuters)

One of the Russian Navy's most important warships has been badly damaged in the Black Sea, a massive blow to a military struggling against Ukrainian resistance 50 days into Vladimir Putin's invasion of his neighbor.

Russian sailors evacuated the guided-missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, after a fire that detonated ammunition aboard, Russia's defense ministry said.

Ukraine's Operational Command South claimed Thursday that the Moskva had begun to sink after it was hit Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles.

Russia's defense ministry said Thursday that the Moskva "remains afloat" and that measures were being taken to tow it to port. The ministry said the crew had been evacuated to other Black Sea Fleet ships in the area.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told CNN's Brianna Keilar that "there was an explosion" on the Moskva, but said the United States cannot say at this point if the ship was hit by a missile.

Whatever the reason for the fire, analysts say it strikes hard at the heart of the Russian Navy as well as national pride, comparable to the US Navy losing a battleship during World War II or an aircraft carrier today.

What we know about the Russian warship: The 611-foot-long (186 meters) Moskva, with a crew of almost 500, is the pride of the Russian naval fleet in the Black Sea. Originally commissioned into the Soviet Navy as the Slava in the 1980s, it was renamed Moskva in 1995 and after a refit reentered service in 1998, according to military site Naval-Technology.com.

The Moskva is armed with a range of anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles as well as torpedoes and naval guns and close-in missile defense systems.

The Moskva also poses symbolic significance to Ukraine, as it was one of the ships involved in the famous exchange at Snake Island in February, according to Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

According to a purported audio exchange in late February, as the Russians approached the Ukrainian garrison on Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, in the Black Sea, a Russian officer said: "This is a military warship. This is a Russian military warship. I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed."

A Ukrainian soldier responded: "Russian warship, go f*** yourself."

If the Moskva is lost, it would be the second large Russian naval vessel to suffer that fate during Moscow's war with Ukraine.

In late March, Ukraine said a missile strike had destroyed a Russian landing ship at the port of Berdiansk.

9:34 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Russia and Ukraine exchanged more prisoners of war, Ukraine’s deputy prime minster says

From CNN's Amy Cassidy

Russia and Ukraine have conducted a fourth prisoner swap, Ukraine���s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Thursday.

“Another, fourth, prisoner exchange took place today at the orders of [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelensky,” she wrote on Telegram.

“Five officers and 17 rank and file soldiers were freed, as well as eight civilians including one woman. Thirty of our citizens in total are going home today,” she said.

Details of how many Russian prisoners were freed in the exchange were not immediately available, with Russia yet to confirm the swap.

9:27 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

US national security adviser: The fighting in Ukraine is likely to be "protracted"

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand

When asked about US President Joe Biden’s comments that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is committing genocide against Ukrainians, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the President had “assessed that the Russians and Putin seem to be hell-bent on erasing the very idea of Ukrainian identity, of its independent identity.

"And when you combine that with the mass killings, from the President's perspective, that's genocide," he said.

Sullivan noted, however, that as the President said, there is a process the State Department must go through to make a formal determination of whether Russia’s actions meet the legal standard for genocide under the Genocide Convention. “That’s something that will take quite a bit of time, but the President was quite deliberate in his own personal views of that,” he said.

The fighting in Ukraine is also likely to be “protracted,” and will go on “for months or even longer," Sullivan said.

But Sullivan said that “it is not a foregone conclusion” that the US will lift sanctions on Russia if it reaches a diplomatic agreement with Ukraine. 

“A lot of that depends on what the shape and scope of that diplomatic agreement is and a lot of it depends on what the Ukrainians [consult] with us and the Europeans come to agree to,” Sullivan told an audience at the Economic Club of Washington, DC. “You know, we're not going to do a deal over the head of the Ukrainians where we get a bunch of sanctions relief to Russia. But if some measure of sanctions relief were built into some credible diplomatic solution, led by the Ukrainians, that's something that we would happily assess.”

Sullivan said that although the US is not “actively participating” in the talks, Ukrainian officials regularly communicate with the US about the status of negotiations. And while he would not discuss whether the US had any “red lines” for intervention in Ukraine, he said the US has made clear to Russia that there will be severe consequences if weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical or biological weapons, are used there.

Asked about the administration’s strategy of declassifying intelligence about Russia’s intentions in Ukraine, Sullivan described it as “a careful, very thoughtful, very systematic and very prudent process that is managed at senior levels across the director of national intelligence, the CIA, the NSA” and other agencies.   

Asked about whether the President had any plans to go to Ukraine when he was in Poland last month, Sullivan said that Biden “would love the opportunity to go to Ukraine to show solidarity with the Ukrainians” and that the possibility was discussed before Biden’s trip to Warsaw.

The discussions included what kind of footprint it would require to ensure the President’s safety, Sullivan said. But it was “not under any serious planning,” he added, and he declined to comment further on reports that a senior US official might visit Kyiv in the near future.

9:18 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

4 killed by Russian gunfire in escape boat after it drifted into the frontline, survivors and officials say

From CNN's Tara John, Oleksandr Fylyppov, Sandi Sidhu and Julia Presniakova

Vladimir Nesterenko.
Vladimir Nesterenko. (Courtesy Julia Nesterenko)

All Vladimir Nesterenko wanted to do when he grew up was to play basketball. The brown haired 12-year-old dribbled and shot hoops with his dad Oleh in the village where they lived in Ukraine's southern Kherson region. He idolized NBA legend Michael Jordan.

His mother Julia Nesterenko was happy to encourage the habit. "We even had a basketball hoop at home," the 33-year-old told CNN as she described their first family home. It was their "nest," she said, with a small garden and a vegetable patch.

When Russian forces captured the regional capital, also called Kherson, and its surrounding area soon after the invasion began, the family knew they could not stay, Julia said. Russian checkpoints, armed forces, and officers of the FSB intelligence agency were reportedly flooding the region at the same time as disappearances and detentions of local mayors, journalists, and civilians became rife, according to local officials and rights groups.

It was time "to get out of the occupied territories to safety... in order to survive," Julia said. Russians had taken over their village, Verkhnii Rohachyk, and the Nesterenko family feared the consequences.

With nothing more than a backpack and their important documents, the family took what appeared to be the easiest route out to Ukrainian-held areas, she said. On April 7, the family of three and 11 other people boarded an evacuation boat, operated by a local resident, crossing the Dnipro River from the southern, Russian-occupied part of Kherson region to the Ukrainian controlled territory on the other side of the river. The Dnipro, one of Europe's longest waterways, cuts through Ukraine and its Kherson region before flowing into the Black Sea.

The boat crossing, which began at the bank of the fishing village of Pervomaivka, should have been simple. It was the seventh evacuation trip via boat from the village to a Ukrainian-held area on the north bank of the Dnipro River since the war began, according to Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the military administration of Kryvyi Rih, in the neighboring region of Dnipropetrovsk.

Instead, it turned into a bloodbath, according to Julia, two other survivors, a friend of one victim and several regional officials. They said Russian rockets and gunfire targeted the boat after it unintentionally drifted into the frontline.

Read the full story here:

10:02 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Pentagon: "There was an explosion" on the Russian warship but US can't assess at this point if missile hit it

From CNN's Jamie Crawford

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby speaks with CNN on Thursday.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby speaks with CNN on Thursday. (CNN)

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told CNN that “there was an explosion” on the Russian cruiser Moskva, but added the United States cannot assess at this point if the ship was hit by a missile.

Russia said its warship "remains afloat" after a fire detonated ammunition on board, while Ukrainian officials said the Moskva was hit by Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles and has sunk.

“We’re not quite exactly sure what happened here. We do assess that there was an explosion — at least one explosion on this cruiser — a fairly major one at that, that has caused extensive damage to the ship,” Kirby said.  

Kirby said the damaged Russian warship is afloat and "making her own way across the Black Sea."

“We assess that the ship is able to make its own way, and it is doing that; it's heading more towards now we think the east. We think it's probably going to be putting in at Sevastopol for repairs, but we don’t know what exactly caused that,” Kirby added.

Kirby said the ship had been operating with a few other Russian vessels about 60 miles (about 96 kilometers) south of Odesa.

"The explosion was sizable enough that we picked up indications that other naval vessels around her tried to come to her assistance, and so eventually that wasn’t apparently needed. So she is making her own way across the Black Sea and we’ll continue to try and monitor this as best we can," he added.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Thursday that the battleship was badly damaged on Wednesday as a result of either “incompetence” or a successful attack by the Ukrainians.

“We’ve been in touch with the Ukrainians overnight who said they struck the ship with anti-ship missiles,” Sullivan told an audience at the Economic Club of Washington, DC “We don’t have the capacity at this point to independently verify that, but certainly the way that this unfolded is a big blow to Russia.”

“This is their flagship, the ‘Moscow,’ and they’ve now been forced to admit that it’s been badly damaged,” Sullivan continued. “And they’ve had to kind of choose between two stories. One story is that it was just incompetence, and the other is that they came under attack. And neither is a particularly good outcome for them.”

Sullivan said that when the president went to NATO a few weeks ago, he indicated to allies that the US was looking to facilitate the supply of coastal defense and anti-ship capabilities to the Ukrainians “and that is being actively worked.”

CNN's Natasha Bertrand contributed reporting to this post.

8:56 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Here's what's in the new US security package for Ukraine

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden speaks on Tuesday, April 12.
US President Joe Biden speaks on Tuesday, April 12. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky the US was sending his nation an additional $800 million worth of weapons, ammunition and other security assistance.

It comes as US officials warn of a potentially bloody new phase in the ongoing war, focused on the eastern regions of Ukraine as Russia withdraws its troops from the area around the capital Kyiv.

"The Ukrainian military has used the weapons we are providing to devastating effect. As Russia prepares to intensify its attack in the Donbas region, the United States will continue to provide Ukraine with the capabilities to defend itself," Biden said in a statement.

Biden detailed the new announcement in a midday telephone call with Zelensky that lasted for about an hour.

According to the Pentagon, the US is providing Ukraine with:

  • 11 Mi-17 helicopters
  • 300 Switchblade drones
  • 18 Howitzers and protective equipment to guard against chemical attacks
  • 200 M113 armored personnel carriers
  • 10 counter-artillery radars
  • 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles
  • 30,000 sets of body armor and helmets

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the $800 million package was intended to "meet urgent Ukrainian needs for today's fight" as Russian forces shift the focus of their attack to eastern and southern Ukraine. He said the weapons would begin being sent to Ukraine "as soon as possible," noting that previous security assistance had been sent in as little as four to five days after security packages were approved.

As of Tuesday night, two sources said helicopters had been removed from the assistance list, though Biden said in his statement they were ultimately included. Ukraine had initially asked the White House at the last minute not to send the helicopters, indicating they wanted more time to assess whether they'd be useful. But during Wednesday's phone call, Zelensky told Biden his country needed them, so they were put back in the package, a source familiar with the matter said.

The Mi-17 helicopters that were added to the package had been earmarked for Afghanistan, Kirby said.

The $800 million shipment brings the total amount of military assistance the US has provided to Ukraine to more than $3 billion. Ukraine's 2020 defense budget was only about $6 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. In less than two months, the US has provided nearly half of that in security assistance, underscoring the pace at which the White House has worked to send in weaponry and equipment.

Read more about the military aid here.

11:15 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

The war in Ukraine could be devastating for global food security

By CNN's David McKenzie and Matias Grez in London

Employees package bread at a bakery in Khartoum's al-Matar district, on March 17.
Employees package bread at a bakery in Khartoum's al-Matar district, on March 17. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)

CNN visited the Philips Atakele Bakery in Lagos, Nigeria where the intense work was, until recently, profitable and worthwhile.

However, rising inflation in Nigeria and the war in Ukraine could significantly impact production and soaring costs mean the bakery can only produce half of what it used to.

"Entirely this year, precisely around the time of the bombing of Ukraine, it has affected the supply of yeast which has affected our primary item of production which is white wheat loaf," Abigail Olufunmilayo Phillips, the bakery's manager, told CNN. The cost of flour is also volatile, she said.

"Our flow has been very expensive, the prices are changing constantly."

According to the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine provide around 30% of the wheat and barley consumed globally.

Russia is also one of the world's largest producers of fertilizer. If the war drags on, economists warn that fertilizer costs could stop some farmers from expanding their crops to make up the shortfall of supply.

On the field of battle in Ukraine, farmers will struggle to plant crops and Ukrainian export ports remain blockaded by Russian warships.

While the United Nations forecasts that grain and vegetable oil prices increases could affect countries globally, there is particular concern about several countries in Africa, countries that are heavily dependent on Russian and Ukrainian imports for their food security.

"The war is starting at one of the worst times," Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at the Agriculture Business Chamber of South Africa, told CNN.

We were already in a recovery mode. Apart from that there were already inflationary pressures across the world.

"Africans are spending a lot on fuel and a lot on food and at this current moment this is a tough time for the continent."


8:16 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Kremlin says condition for potential Putin-Zelensky summit is an agreement document

From CNN staff

The condition for a possible meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is an agreement document ready for the two leaders to sign, the Kremlin said Thursday.

“In principle, President [Putin] never refused such a meeting [with President Zelensky], but certain conditions must be prepared for it, namely, the text of the [agreement] document [to sign],” Peskov told reporters on a regular conference call.

“For the time being, there are no updates to report here,” Peskov added.

Since the start of Russia's invasion, Zelensky has repeatedly called for talks with the Russian president, but there have been no talks at the highest level so far. 

8:01 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Netherlands instructs firms not to pay for Russian gas in rubles

From CNN's Benjamin Brown in London

A view of the Liquified Natural Gas import terminal in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on Feb. 23.
A view of the Liquified Natural Gas import terminal in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on Feb. 23. (Federico Gambarini/picture alliance/Getty Images)

The Dutch government has instructed energy companies in the Netherlands not to pay for Russian gas in rubles in accordance with European Union sanctions, spokesperson for the economics ministry Pieter ten Bruggencate told CNN Thursday.

The Dutch government had previously made clear that payments in rubles would violate sanctions but reiterated its instructions to firms after ongoing Russian calls for payment in rubles, ten Bruggencate added.

Some background: Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the country would seek payment in rubles for natural gas sold to "unfriendly" countries, and British and Dutch wholesale gas prices jumped after the announcement.

At the time, a spokesperson for Dutch gas supplier Eneco, which buys 15% of its gas from Russian gas giant Gazprom's German subsidiary Wingas GmbH, said it had a long-term contract denominated in euros and could not "imagine" agreeing to change the terms.