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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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.

11:51 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Finland is prepared "for different kinds of threats" from Russia if it joins NATO, foreign minister tells CNN

From CNN’s Zeena Saifi in Abu Dhabi

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaks during a press conference on April 13 in Helsinki, Finland.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaks during a press conference on April 13 in Helsinki, Finland. (Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva/AFP/Getty Images)

A day after the country’s prime minister confirmed a decision on NATO membership will be made “within weeks,” Finland’s foreign minister told CNN that it was expecting a reaction from Russia and was “prepared for different kinds of threats.”

“Finland actually has quite a strong conventional army. We have more than 280,000 reservists, we have a conscription army, we have just invested in F-35 fighters, 60 of them are coming to Finland, and so forth. So we have been taking quite good care of our national defense forces. But of course we live in a world, as we see from Russia’s attack against Ukraine, that also new security threats appear. … Through closer cooperation with NATO, we can address all those different threats,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said in an interview Thursday with CNN’s Becky Anderson.

Russia has long made threatening statements about Sweden and Finland joining NATO, saying it would have “serious military and political repercussions.” At the beginning of the war, Putin made it clear that one of his aims was to roll back NATO deployments in Eastern Europe to where they had been in the 1990s. Now, Finland and Sweden — nations that are officially non-aligned —are edging ever closer toward joining NATO, the US-led military alliance.

When asked by CNN why Finland has changed its position with regard to military neutrality, Haavisto said the nature of Russia’s attack on Ukraine has changed.

“First, Russia is ready to take higher risks in its neighborhood. Second, it’s ready to concentrate more than 100,000 soldiers in one spotlight, we have seen on the border of Ukraine. And third — this is more of an open speculation — but the potential use of nuclear or even chemical weapons. All of this is of course affecting also the Finnish security," the foreign minister said.

According to the prime minister, Finland hopes to wrap up discussions regarding the country’s potential application for NATO membership “by mid-summer.” Haavisto told CNN Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed the public discourse inside his country.

Sweden is due to complete an analysis of its security policy by the end of May. A Swedish official previously told CNN that the nation could make its position public sooner, depending on when neighboring Finland does.

“We have seen a major shift in public opinion in Finland during the recent weeks. A clear majority of the population is now supporting NATO membership. … The Finnish parliament will discuss this matter in the coming weeks, and if the majority clearly will state that, then the process will go on. Then, it’s depending on the 30 NATO member states how rapid the process can be,” he added.

US President Joe Biden said this week that the atrocities being uncovered in Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion qualify as "genocide." Other leaders have rejected the use of the term, such as French President Emmanuel Macron. Haavisto said Finland supports the International Criminal Court investigating what exactly happened.

“I think it's very important that firstly, before the definition of what exactly happened, we have the full investigation from places like Bucha, and other places where certainly civilians have been attacked in a way that is not allowed under international legislation,” he said.

CNN's Luke McGee and Maeve Reston contributed reporting to this post.

11:43 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

UN: Nearly 2,000 civilians killed in Ukraine since invasion began, but actual figures "considerably higher"

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen looks at bodies that were pulled out of a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 8.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen looks at bodies that were pulled out of a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 8. (Rodrigo Abd/AP)

As of April 12, the civilian death toll in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24 stood at 1,932, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said Thursday. It warned that "the actual figures are considerably higher." 

As the “receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed, and many reports are still pending corroboration,” it added.  

The OHCHR also said that at least 2,589 civilians have been injured since the start of the invasion. 

"Escalating and sustained hostilities in the eastern & southern regions of Ukraine continue to drive rising humanitarian needs," the UN said Thursday. 

12:00 p.m. ET, April 14, 2022

UK supports potential Sweden and Finland NATO membership, foreign secretary says

From CNN’s Amy Cassidy and staff

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss attends a meeting in Warsaw, Poland, on April 5.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss attends a meeting in Warsaw, Poland, on April 5. (Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

The United Kingdom would support Sweden and Finland in a NATO membership bid, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Thursday.

“Sweden and Finland are free to choose their future without interference - the UK will support whatever they decide," she wrote on Twitter.

Prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changing the security landscape in Europe, Sweden and Finland are edging closer to NATO membership. Both countries are set to decide by the summer whether to apply to join the military alliance.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a call with journalists Thursday that Russia’s defense ministry is under the instruction of Russian President Vladimir Putin to submit proposals on strengthening forces near Russia’s borders with NATO countries. 

10:35 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Biden administration expands intel sharing with Ukraine on Donbas and Crimea, officials say

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis

US President Joe Biden's administration is expanding its intelligence sharing with Ukraine to allow more information on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine and Crimea to be shared, as the US believes that Russia is shifting its strategy to concentrate on the south and the east, according to US officials and another source familiar with the matter.

New guidelines, put in place over the past several weeks, have loosened rules for intelligence sharing, specifically in regions that were under Russian control prior to the 2022 invasion. 

“With the shift in Russia’s military efforts in southern and eastern Ukraine, we modified our guidelines to provide operators added clarity to enable intelligence sharing with Ukraine to defend themselves in what is sure to be a dynamic battle space,” a US intelligence official told CNN. 

The official said that the US “has been sharing and will continue to share intelligence with the Ukrainians to support their ability to defend themselves against Russian aggression originating from anywhere in Ukraine.” 

The intelligence official said that the US is “intensely sharing timely intelligence” with the Ukrainians, including in areas held by Russia prior to the 2022 invasion. 

Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee have publicly raised concerns that the Biden administration isn’t providing sufficient intelligence to the Ukrainians, a charge that US officials have denied.

“We remain deeply concerned that not enough is being done to share critical intelligence that would assist the Ukrainians as Russian forces move to secure territory in the southern and eastern parts of the country,” committee lawmakers wrote in a letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Monday. 

“As we watch Russia turn its focus to southern and eastern Ukraine, we urge you to ensure that our intelligence agencies proactively share intelligence with the Ukrainians to help them protect, defend, and retake every inch of Ukraine’s sovereign territory, which includes Crimea and the Donbas,” they wrote.

The White House also announced this week that it would send $800 million worth of additional weapons, ammunition and security assistance to Ukraine. 

10:48 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

What images of Russian trucks say about its military's struggles in Ukraine

From CNN's Brad Lendon

Ukrainian soldiers walk near damaged Russian military trucks in the town of Trostsyanets, Ukraine on March 28.
Ukrainian soldiers walk near damaged Russian military trucks in the town of Trostsyanets, Ukraine on March 28. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Think about modern warfare and it's likely images of soldiers, tanks and missiles will spring to mind. But arguably more important than any of these is something on which they all rely: the humble truck.

Armies need trucks to transport their soldiers to the front lines, to supply those tanks with shells and to deliver those missiles. In short, any army that neglects its trucks does so at its peril.

Yet that appears to be exactly the problem Russia's military is facing during its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, according to experts analyzing battlefield images as its forces withdraw from areas near Kyiv to focus on the Donbas.

Photographs of damaged Russian trucks, they say, show tell-tale signs of Moscow's logistical struggles and suggest its efforts are being undermined by its reliance on conscripts, widespread corruption and use of civilian vehicles — not to mention the huge distances involved in resupplying its forces, or Ukraine's own highly-motivated, tactically-adept resistance.

"Everything that an army needs to do its thing comes from a truck," says Trent Telenko, a former quality control auditor for the United States' Defense Contract Management Agency, who is among those parsing the images for clues as to how the war is going.
"The weapon isn't the tank, it's the shell the tank fires. That shell travels by a truck," Telenko points out.

Food, fuel, medical supplies and even the soldiers themselves — the presence of all of these rest on logistical supply lines heavily reliant on trucks, he says. And he has reason to believe there's a problem with those supply lines.

Read the full story:

10:18 a.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Putin says Russia will redirect energy exports to its south and east in the near future

From CNN's Clare Sebastian, Uliana Pavlova and Chris Liakos

A file photo from M
A file photo from M (Igor Grussak/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia is looking to focus its exports on "the fast-growing markets" to the country's south and east in the near future. He warned that “attempts by Western countries to squeeze” Russian suppliers “will inevitably affect the entire world economy.”

“It is necessary to diversify exports. We need to assume that in the foreseeable future, deliveries of energy in the western direction will be reduced. Therefore, it is important to consolidate the trend of recent years: step by step, reorientate our exports to the fast-growing markets of the south and east. To do this in the near future, time to identify key infrastructure facilities and start their construction,” the Russian president said Thursday during a meeting with energy companies and officials.

Putin added that there is no reasonable alternative to Russian gas, warning that if Russian energy supplies get squeezed, it will affect the entire world economy and have “painful” consequences.

“Attempts by Western countries to squeeze out Russian suppliers and replace our energy resources with alternative supplies will inevitably affect the entire world economy. The consequences of such a step can become very painful, and first of all, for the initiators of such a policy themselves. What is surprising here is that our so-called partners from unfriendly countries admit that they cannot do without Russian energy resources, including natural gas, for example," he said.

"A reasonable alternative for Europe simply doesn’t exist. Yes, it's possible, but right now, it doesn’t exist. Everyone understands this; there are simply no free volumes on the global market right now, and supplies from other countries — primarily from the United States, which can be sent to Europe — will cost consumers many times more and will affect the standard of living of people and the competitiveness of the European economy,” Putin said.

On Thursday, Putin also said that there have been failures in payment for export deliveries of Russian energy. 

“Banks from unfriendly countries delay the transfer of payments. I will remind you, the task has already been set to transfer payments for energy resources in national currency, to gradually move away from the dollar and the euro. In general, we intend to radically increase the share of settlements in national currencies in the foreign trade system,” Putin said.

More context: Amid the war in Ukraine, the European Union is trying to slash imports of Russian gas by 66% this year and break its dependence entirely on Russian energy by 2027. A new, sixth round of sanctions is already being discussed, and some EU officials have called for action on Russian oil and gas exports. But a ban on Russian gas in the near term would wreak havoc on Germany, which relied on Russia for about 46% of its natural gas in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency.

At the end of March, Putin delivered an ultimatum to “unfriendly” nations to pay for their energy in rubles starting April 1 or risk being cut off from vital supplies. Germany, France and other EU governments refused, and they have not been immediately cut off.

CNN's Mark Thompson and Anna Cooban contributed reporting to this post.

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.