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
40 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
1:32 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

After weapons from the US enter Ukraine, sources say there's really no way to track them

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis, Jeremy Herb, Natasha Bertrand and Oren Liebermann

The US has few ways to track the substantial supply of anti-tank, anti-aircraft and other weaponry it has sent across the border into Ukraine, sources tell CNN, a blind spot that's due in large part to the lack of US boots on the ground in the country — and the easy portability of many of the smaller systems now pouring across the border.

It's a conscious risk US President Joe Biden's administration is willing to take.

In the short term, the US sees the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of equipment to be vital to the Ukrainians' ability to hold off Moscow's invasion. A senior defense official said Tuesday that it is "certainly the largest recent supply to a partner country in a conflict." But the risk, both current US officials and defense analysts say, is that in the long term, some of those weapons may wind up in the hands of other militaries and militias that the US did not intend to arm.

"We have fidelity for a short time, but when it enters the fog of war, we have almost zero," said one source briefed on US intelligence. "It drops into a big black hole, and you have almost no sense of it at all after a short period of time."

In making the decision to send billions of dollars of weapons and equipment into Ukraine, the Biden administration factored in the risk that some of the shipments may ultimately end up in unexpected places, a defense official said.

But right now, the official said, the administration views a failure to adequately arm Ukraine as a greater risk.

Continue reading here:

12:56 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Flight of US security assistance for Ukraine arrived in Europe yesterday, senior defense official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

A flight carrying US security assistance for Ukraine from the $800 million drawdown package signed last week arrived in Europe yesterday, and seven more flights with security assistance are expected to arrive in Europe in the next 24 hours, a senior US defense official told reporters Tuesday.

The official could not say when that assistance will arrive in Ukraine via “ground transportation” but said “none of these shipments sit around very long before being offloaded off of” airplanes and “onloaded appropriately” to be sent to Ukraine.

“Then the next 24 hours, we expect there’ll be more than a half a dozen, probably more like seven, flights coming from the United States into the theater with various amounts of material based on the $800 million dollar drawdown package approved last week,” the official said.

More on the package: The US is providing Ukraine with 11 Mi-17 helicopters, 300 Switchblade drones, 18 Howitzers and protective equipment to guard against chemical attacks in the latest batch of security assistance approved by the White House, the Pentagon announced.

In addition, the new weapons package includes 200 M113 armored personnel carriers, 10 counter-artillery radars, 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 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.

The $800 million shipment brings the total amount of military assistance the US has provided to Ukraine to more than $3 billion. 

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed reporting to this post. 

12:59 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Russians plan to "level everything to the ground" at steel factory, per alleged communications intercept

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Nathan Hodge in Lviv

Smoke rises above Azovstal steelworks, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this still image obtained from a video posted on social media.
Smoke rises above Azovstal steelworks, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this still image obtained from a video posted on social media. (Mariupol City Council/Reuters)

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) on Tuesday released a purported communications intercept of a Russian ground unit commander, who said Russian aircraft were planning to "level everything to the ground" around Azovstal, the steel factory that is a redoubt of Ukrainian defenders in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

The audio recording released Tuesday purports to feature the voice of the leader of a Russian platoon four kilometers (or about 2.5 miles) from Azovstal.

The man's voice says, "We are expecting 'surprises' from Russia here."

"What kind of surprises?" a woman's voice replies.

"Three-ton ones, from the sky," the man replies, adding that his command "said to level everything to the ground."

CNN cannot vouch for the authenticity of the recording, but the SBU has previously released audio from intercepted radio traffic revealing Russian soldiers discussing killing and raping civilians, bolstering allegations of war crimes by Russian troops.

Germany’s foreign intelligence service has also intercepted radio communications where Russian soldiers talked about shooting soldiers and civilians in Ukraine. Military observers have also noted a tendency of Russian troops to use unsecured communications in Ukraine.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Ukrainian officials and military commanders have described the situation around the Azovstal plant to be extremely difficult, with hundreds of civilians also sheltering in the basements of the steel factory with dwindling supplies and defenders under constant attack.

"Everybody left," the voice on the audio recording says. "Everyone who wanted to, all left. All that's left are the patriots and the very smart ones."

Describing the impending aerial bombardment of Azovstal, the man adds, "A lieutenant colonel came and said, 'You will feel the effect of it yourself.'"

The man in the audio recording also mentions another Ukrainian town in Luhansk region, Lysychansk, saying it "is being wiped out from the face of the earth. For the third day in a row."

12:23 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

It's Tuesday night in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN Staff

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced in a video address on Monday that Russia had commenced the battle for Donbas in eastern Ukraine, adding that Ukrainian forces will continue to fight against a Russian incursion in the region. Recent satellite images have shown Russian military convoys moving towards Donbas in preparation for a large-scale invasion — one that is likely to shape the fate of the war. 

Ukrainian forces continue to resist Russian attacks in the southeastern port city of Mariupol. The fate of the city rests on an unknown number of defenders making their last stand at the Azovstal steel plant, where Ukrainian troops have previously rejected a deadline to surrender. 

If you're just catching up on the news, here are the latest developments in the Russia-Ukraine conflict:

  • Kreminna control lost: Control over Kreminna, a town in the Luhansk region of Ukraine, has been "lost" and heavy fighting continues in the city, according to Serhii Haidai, the head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration. It comes as Russian forces try to break Ukrainian resistance in the country's east, and Haidai urged civilians on Tuesday to evacuate the Luhansk region. 
  • Not a "single place" safe in Ukraine: Ihor Zhovkva, chief diplomatic adviser to Zelensky, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "not a single place, a town, a city or a village" is now safe in Ukraine following Russian missile strikes in Lviv on Monday. On Tuesday, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said no evacuation routes for civilians had been agreed with Russian forces. 
  • Moskva ship sinking: New images emerged early Monday on social media showing Russia's guided-missile cruiser, the Moskva, badly damaged and on fire in the hours before the ship sank in the Black Sea on Thursday. The images show the Moskva listing to one side, with black holes from possible missile puncture marks, and a large plume of smoke billowing upwards. 
  • No plans for Biden to visit Ukraine: White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated on Monday that there were no plans for US President Joe Biden to travel to Ukraine, following comments from Zelensky encouraging him to do so. The US President suggested last week he wanted to go, though he said US officials are still "in discussions" on whether a high-level US official will visit Ukraine. 
  • "Non-stop bombardment of civilian districts" in Kharkiv: Kharkiv mayor Igor Terekhov has told CNN that there has been "non-stop bombardment of civilian districts" in the city since Sunday. Before then, Terekhov said Russian shelling and bombardments had been focused on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city located in the east of the country near the Russian border. Kharkiv has been targeted by Russian strikes since the invasion of Ukraine was launched nearly two months ago. "In the last few days, [Russian shelling] has been in the center and it’s targeting peaceful civilians," Terekhov told CNN "New Day" Tuesday.
  • Donetsk official says Mariupol is under heavy bombardment, but Ukrainian forces continue to defend city: Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk region military administration, said Russian forces are "changing tactic," but the besieged city of Mariupol continues to be in Ukrainian control. After capturing Kreminna, Russian forces are looking to advance toward Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in the northern part of the Donetsk region, Kyrylenko said.
  • If Russians succeed in eastern Ukraine, they could "come back" to Kyiv, mayor's brother say: Russia will "of course" try to go further west if it takes control of the eastern territory of Ukraine, Wladimir Klitschko, the brother of Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, claimed Tuesday. However, he added that he doesn't know how much further the forces would go, but that he expects the attack to return to Kyiv. "We expect everything and anything, especially in regards to the capital. Of course, we're waiting for them to come back. We're expecting that," Klitschko told CNN. "If you invade the country, obviously you're aiming at the capital of the country." Help is "crucially" needed, he continued.
  • IMF slashes global economic growth forecast due to war in Ukraine: The International Monetary Fund has slashed its expectations for global economic growth over the next two years because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, comparing the ripple effects from the conflict to an earthquake. "The economic effects of the war are spreading far and wide," the organization said in its latest outlook, published Tuesday. The IMF now expects the world economy to expand by 3.6% in both 2022 and 2023, a sharp deceleration from growth of 6.1% in 2021. The new forecasts reflect downgrades of 0.8 and 0.2 percentage points, respectively, from its January forecast.
1:46 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Official: US seeing new "limited offensive operations" by Russia southwest of Donetsk and south of Izium

From CNN's Michael Conte and Ellie Kaufman

The US has seen “limited offensive operations” undertaken by Russia southwest of Donetsk and south of Izium in Ukraine, according to a senior US defense official, who added that the US believes these are “preludes to larger offensive operations.” 

The official said the new operations have consisted of “ground movements … supported, of course, by some long-range fires, mostly artillery.”

But the official also stressed that Russia is still conducting “shaping operations” as well “to make sure they have logistics and sustainment in place” along with other “enabling capabilities.” 

The US expects to see a “more blended approach” to the new operations in Ukraine after their failures in the north of the country, according to the official. 

Russia has added two more battalion tactical groups (BTGs) to its forces inside Ukraine in the last 24 hours, according to the official, bringing the total to 78 BTGs. 

However, the official said the US assesses that Russia is now down to 75% of the “combat power” that had been amassed before the latest invasion of Ukraine.

“This is across all functions … it's infantry, it’s artillery, it’s aviation, both fixed and rotary, it’s ballistic missile, cruise missile,” the official said on a call with reporters. “When you just add it all up, our general assessment is he’s about 75% of his original combat power.”

12:12 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

The US is working to get weapons to Ukraine at "unprecedented" speed, defense official says

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

The US is working “around the clock” to get weapons to Ukraine at “unprecedented” speed, a senior defense official said.

Since the beginning of the invasion, the Biden administration has authorized $2.3 billion in shipments of weapons and equipment to Ukraine drawn from US inventories, as well as another $300 million as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which purchases weapons from manufacturers.

“This is certainly the largest recent supply to a partner country in a conflict,” said the official. “What is unprecedented here is the amount of successive drawdowns that we are moving at this speed.”

The process of authorizing the shipment of equipment from US military inventories to other countries, which has taken weeks or months in the past, can now take as little as 48-72 hours, the official said.  

Here's how the official says the process usually works: The process begins with a list of requirements developed in concert with the Ukrainians. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) then checks available military stocks for weapons and equipment before assessing the impact on US military readiness. Based on available stock, the US puts together a package of arms and equipment, which is then reviewed by the Joint Chiefs Chairman and others.

The Defense Secretary then signs a memo approving the drawdown of US inventory, the US President directs the drawdown, and the US Secretary of State signs a memo instructing the Defense Department to execute it. Finally, the DSCA puts out the order to execute the drawdown.

“That whole process has been known in the last several months to be possible to do in as few as 48-72 hours, which is unprecedented,” the official said.

1:17 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Canada announces new sanctions against close associates of Russian regime, including Putin's daughters

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

In In response to Russia’s war on Ukraine, Canada announced today that it is imposing new sanctions on 14 close associates of the Russian regime, including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, a release from Global Affairs Canada said.

“Canada continues to stand by the brave men and women fighting for their freedom in Ukraine. We will continue to impose severe costs on the Russian regime in coordination with our allies and will relentlessly pursue accountability for their actions,” Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly said. “They will answer for their crimes.”

According to the release, the new measures demonstrate that “Canada will not relent in holding Russian President Vladimir Putin and his associates accountable for their complicity in the Russian regime’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Global Affairs Canada also noted that it intends to implement further measures in response to the “serious atrocities and human rights violations in Ukraine, including war crimes and likely crimes against humanity.”

11:48 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

UN secretary-general appeals for 4-day holy week humanitarian pause for Ukraine

From CNN's Laura Ly

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on March 14.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on March 14. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters/File)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is appealing for a four-day Holy Week humanitarian pause beginning on Holy Thursday and running through Easter Sunday April 24, according to a statement.

The “Easter Appeal for Ukraine” will allow for the opening of humanitarian corridors, he said.

“Instead of celebration of a new life, this Easter coincides with a Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine,” he added. “Holy Week is being observed under the cloud of a war that represents the total negation of the Easter message.” 

A humanitarian pause will allow for the passage of civilians willing to leave areas of current and expected confrontation, and well as allow for safe delivery of “lifesaving humanitarian aid” to people in hard hit areas including Mariupol, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk, Guterres said. “The United Nations is ready to send humanitarian aid convoys during this period to these locations. We are submitting detailed plans to the parties."

Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths this morning briefed the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations – including Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and Jewish leaders.

“Inspired by Holy Week and all that it represents, I urge all parties – and all champions of peace around the world — to join my Easter appeal,” he continued. “Save lives. Stop the bloodshed and destruction. Open a window for dialogue and peace and keep faith with the meaning and the message of Easter.”

10:52 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Russians seize eastern Ukrainian city of Kreminna, regional military governor says 

From Manveena Suri in New Delhi 

Russian “orcs” have taken control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kreminna, Serhii Haidai, head of Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said in a briefing on Tuesday. 

“Kreminna is under the control of the 'orcs.' They have entered the city,” Haidai said.

The word “orc” refers to the elf race of brutish fighters in the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy “Lord of the Rings” and is a commonly used derogatory term in Ukraine to describe the Russian army. 

Haidai added that troops had withdrawn from the city and taken up new positions. 

The evacuation of civilians continues as Russia attacks from “from all directions in the way of mass shelling, intense bombardment, air bombardment on all defensive lines,” according to the military governor.   

He estimates around 350,000 people lived in the region prior to it coming under Russian control. He believes only around 70,000 are left. 

“They have either left on their own or with the help of volunteers or religious organizations … They're going to the west of Ukraine,” Haidai said. 

“People can decide whether they want to go to Europe and receive refugee status or whether they would like to get a job where they are, or whether they like to wait until victory and the end of occupation and they can come back to their own homes. If those homes are still standing. If not, the government is developing a program on accelerated construction,” he continued, adding that Russian shelling had “destroyed almost all critical infrastructure” and that it was “impossible” to restore water and electricity supplies.

“Everything is destroyed completely. Our repair teams can fix a little bit but then an hour later, new shelling severs communication again. It’s the same process every time. It's a huge problem.” 

Regarding the number of civilian deaths, Haidai said it was “impossible” to give a number.