April 19, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury, Andrew Raine, Travis Caldwell, George Ramsay and Jack Bantock, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, April 20, 2022
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3:50 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Russia's invasion of Ukraine will continue to "take its toll" on the global economy, Biden says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden hit the road Tuesday, touting his domestic accomplishments in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as he acknowledged 40-year high inflation. He pointed to the economic disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as he warned the ongoing war would continue to “take its toll” on the global economy.

“Look, we’ve made a lot of progress and we have an incredible opportunity ahead of us but we know that families are still struggling with higher prices,” he said in remarks at the Port Authority of New Hampshire. 

Biden cast blame directly on Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “big reason for inflation.”

“The invasion of Ukraine has driven up gas prices and food prices all over the world. The two major breadbaskets of wheat in the world are Ukraine and Russia ... What we saw in the most recent inflation data was last month about 70% of the increase in inflation was a consequence of Putin's price hike, because of the impact on gas and energy prices,” he said.

Biden added that he was doing everything he could to drive down prices, pointing to the release of gas from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves and his coordination with US allies and partners, prompting applause.

“The fact is that we are in a situation where the war in Ukraine is going to continue to take its toll on the world economy. It’s going to take its toll on energy. It’s going to take its toll relative to food … An awful lot of people are hurting. It makes a big difference, it makes a big difference, the cost of a dozen eggs, the cost of a gallon of gasoline, it matters,” Biden said.

“We’re going to build this economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” the President continued.

3:50 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

British and Kurdish leaders discuss exporting energy to help reduce Europe's reliance on Russian oil and gas

From CNN’s Alex Hardie and Sugam Pokharel 

rime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street on Tuesday, April 19.
rime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street on Tuesday, April 19. (Daniel Leal/Pool/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the British and Kurdish leaders held a meeting in London where the two leaders discussed exporting energy to Europe as a way to reduce its reliance on Russian oil and gas, according to a UK government statement. 

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street, and the Kurdish leader “spoke about his aspiration to export energy to Europe” and Johnson “lauded his efforts to help reduce Western reliance on Russian oil and gas.”

The pair also discussed Johnson’s recent visit to Kyiv and “the need for the international community to continue to push back against Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” the statement added.  

Johnson expressed his “enduring commitment to Iraqi stability and the counter-Daesh operations across the Middle East,” Downing Street said.

“The leaders highlighted the strength of their relationship, recognizing the UK’s deep ties with the Kurdish people. They noted the significant opportunities for greater partnerships across trade and investment,” the statement continued.

3:21 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

US defense secretary will meet with Polish and Czech counterparts at Pentagon to discuss war in Ukraine

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will meet with his Polish and Czech counterparts in separate bilateral meetings at the Pentagon on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Ukraine will be a focus in both meetings, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said during a briefing at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

Austin will meet with his Polish counterpart, National Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, at the Pentagon on Wednesday. He will meet with his Czech counterpart, Defence Minister Jana Černochová, at the Pentagon on Thursday. 

Both bilateral meetings will be focused "not only on our relationships with these individual countries but of course what’s going on in Ukraine," Kirby said.

2:49 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Germany will continue to provide military aid to Ukraine but through arms manufacturers, chancellor says

From Inke Kappeler in Berlin and Sugam Pokharel in Atlanta 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz issues a statement following a virtual meeting with world leaders at the Chancellery on Tuesday, April 19, in Berlin.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz issues a statement following a virtual meeting with world leaders at the Chancellery on Tuesday, April 19, in Berlin. (Clemens Bilan/Pool/Getty Images)

Germany has exhausted the weapons it can provide to Ukraine from its stocks, but will work with private military equipment makers to help Kyiv with its requirements, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday. 

“We intend to pay for these deliveries,” Scholz told a news conference in Berlin.

“Weapons with substantial impact” have already been delivered to Ukraine, he said, adding that Germany will help work with arms manufacturers to provide Kyiv anti-tank and air defense weapons.  

“We are ready to make things possible (for Ukraine),” he added.  

On Friday, Scholz said his government will boost the country's military assistance spending in 2022 to $2.16 billion, of which a large share of which will go to Ukraine.

Scholz has been criticized by his coalition partners and the opposition for his "indecision" and "lack of leadership" in the face of the Ukrainian demands for heavy weaponries to combat the Russian aggression. 

The German chancellor said he agrees with the assessment of Ukraine’s allies that “Russia may not win this war.”

He called on Moscow to “stop the bombardment of the Ukrainian cities and enable a ceasefire immediately.”

“Withdraw your soldiers from Ukraine and conduct serious negotiations with Ukraine. Stop this horrible war,” Scholz demanded. 

2:41 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Large-scale NATO cyber drill begins as Russian hacking threats loom 

From CNN's Sean Lyngaas

The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) seen here in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2015.
The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) seen here in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2015. (Maurizio Gambarini/picture alliance/Getty Images)

NATO’s annual large-scale drill for cyberattacks began Tuesday, with participants from 32 countries practicing fending off hacks against critical infrastructure like power plants and air defense systems. 

The exercise mirrors “real life attack scenarios based on cyber-attacks seen over the past 30 years,” Ian West, chief of the NATO Cyber Security Centre, told CNN in an email.

The mock hacking incident will charge participants with “maintaining and ensuring the availability of essential capabilities such as a water plant, power plant, air defence system, financial systems, etc.”

Nearly 2,000 participants from 32 countries will participate in cyber defense exercise known as Locked Shields, according to the US-based Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a threat-sharing hub for big banks that is leading a portion of the drill. 

The drill was planned months in advance and does not directly incorporate cyber threats stemming from Russia’s war in Ukraine, West said. But the war, and suspected Russian and Belarusian cyber activity tied to it, is impossible to ignore. 

More background: As Russia’s invasion began in late February, suspected Belarusian hackers attempted to breach the email accounts of European government officials “involved in managing the logistics of refugees fleeing Ukraine,” according to cybersecurity firm Proofpoint, which discovered the incident.

Around that time, unidentified attackers targeted Ukrainian government contractors with a presence in Latvia and Lithuania, two NATO members, with malicious code that wiped computer systems, according to researchers at Broadcom Software. 

Locked Shields, which debuted in 2010 and is run out of NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Estonia, reflects the alliance’s increasing emphasis on cyberspace as a domain of multilateral defense. 

Though Russia invaded Ukraine to prevent it from one day joining NATO, the bloc’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence voted days after Russia’s invasion to admit Ukraine as a “contributing participant” to the cybersecurity research and training hub. 

“Ukraine could bring valuable first-hand knowledge of several adversaries within the cyber domain to be used for research, exercises and training,” said Col Jaak Tarien, CCDCOE’s director, in a apparent nod to years of Russian cyberattacks aimed at Ukraine. 

2:07 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

World Bank and IMF chiefs to meet with Ukrainian prime minister and finance minister Thursday

From CNN’s Livvy Doherty in London

The heads of World Bank and International Monetary Fund will meet with Ukraine’s prime minister and finance minister on Thursday to discuss further aid.

“We’re going to have an important meeting on Thursday, where we’ll talk with Ukraine’s prime minister and the finance minister. Some of the countries that are supporting Ukraine will be there, and we hope to both be providing assistance as they try to survive the battles,” World Bank President David Malpass said during a panel with IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva who will also be in attendance on Thursday’s meeting.

He used hospital workers as an example of assistance, and also said that the meeting will look at how a rebuilding phase for Ukraine could be done “most effectively.”

IMF’s Georgieva said she had spoken to President Volodymyr Zelensky over the weekend about “reconstructing” Ukraine but also about keeping the economy functioning whilst the war was still happening.

She said there was a “duty” to support Ukraine during the next couple of months and doing so would require more financial aid than had already been given.

“We have provided $1.4bn in emergency financing, but more would be necessary, and it would be a great investment over the next couple of months to keep the economy functioning and prevent inflation shooting up,” she said.

2:14 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Biden says the US will send more artillery to Ukraine

From CNN's DJ Judd

US President Joe Biden steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, April 19.
US President Joe Biden steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, April 19. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden said he plans to send more artillery to Ukraine.

Upon arrival in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Biden was asked by reporters on the tarmac if he plans to supply Ukraine with more artillery, which he answered "yes" before boarding his motorcade, according to pool reporters.

Over the weekend, CNN reported shipments from the administration’s latest $800 million security assistance package to Ukraine “have begun arriving,” including heavier-duty equipment, like 11 Mi-17 helicopters, 18 155mm Howitzer cannons and 300 more Switchblade drones.

1:43 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

What Donbas means to Putin

From CNN's Rob Picheta

Donbas, a sprawling and beleaguered heartland region that blankets much of eastern Ukraine, has been the front line of the country’s conflict with Russia since 2014.

But now its people, already scarred by eight years of fighting, are bracing for an assault even more intense. An impending battle for control of the territory is expected to define Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, after his forces suffered costly failures in Kyiv, and across central and northern Ukraine.

But what does the Donbas region mean to Putin? Despite its move into independence along with the rest of Ukraine in 1991, Donbas has maintained a place in the psyche of Russian leadership.

A famous Soviet propaganda poster from 1921 dubbed Donbas “the heart of Russia,” depicting the region as a beating organ with vessels stretching across the Russian empire. Before then, the region was part of the concept of “Novorossiya,” or New Russia, a term given to territories towards the west of which the Russian empire had expansionist ideas.

Cities like Luhansk and Donetsk are historically “places that (Russians) could see a certain version of themselves,” Rory Finnin, associate professor of Ukrainian studies at the University of Cambridge, told CNN.

And that historical image could still persist inside Putin’s own worldview, experts suggest.

Observers have often suggested that Putin’s desired endgame is to rebuild the Soviet Union in which he first rose up the ranks. Anna Makanju, former director for Russia at the US National Security Council, last month suggested that Putin “believes he is like the czars,” the imperial dynasties that ruled Russia for centuries, “potentially called by God in order to control and restore the glory of the Russian empire.”

But such a project could not be attempted without an effort to recapture Donbas, given its emotional resonance as the Russian empire’s industrial backbone. “It’s symbolically very important; the Donbas supplied the entire Soviet Union with raw materials,” Markian Dobczansky, an associate at Harvard University’s Ukrainian Research Institute, said.

It is in that context that Putin has refocused his stuttering invasion on the region where his conflict with Ukraine began eight years ago. US intelligence intercepts suggest Putin has refocused his war strategy on achieving some kind of victory in the east by May 9, Russia’s “Victory Day” that marks the Nazi surrender in World War II.

“There’s every possibility that Putin will move now to effectively bisect Ukraine; that will give him enough to be able to declare a victory domestically, and allay his critics that this has been a botched invasion,” said Samir Puri, a senior fellow in urban security and hybrid warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), who worked as a ceasefire observer in Donbas between 2014 and 2015.

“Taking the Donbas (would be) a consolation prize, because Kyiv is now out of Russia’s military grasp, but it’s a good consolation prize,” Puri said.

Read more about Donbas here and learn more about Russia's strategy in the region in the video below:

1:34 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

World leaders discussed security assistance and sanctions on video call

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden and fellow world leaders "reiterated" their commitment to providing Ukraine with security, economic and humanitarian assistance on a secure video call Tuesday, the White House said.

On the call, which included the leaders of several European countries along with Canada and Japan, the leaders "affirmed their solidarity" with the Ukrainian people and condemned humanitarian suffering in the country.

They also discussed their "respective diplomatic engagements" and efforts to "impose severe economic costs to hold Russia accountable."

The leaders agreed to continue their discussions going forward.

The participants on the call included Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.