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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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. 

10:09 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

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 the town of Kreminna in the Luhansk region, Russian forces are looking to advance toward Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in the northern part of the Donetsk region, Kyrylenko said.

There have been constant shelling and missile strikes toward the towns Marinka and Avdiivka and an offensive to the south toward Mariupol to "close the circle."

He said Ukrainian forces continue to defend Mariupol under heavy bombardment and there is tank fighting on some streets, but "the Ukrainian flag is flying over the city."

"The enemy is changing tactic," he said. "The reason for that is it has suffered losses, losses in terms of heavy artillery, in terms of its weapons and also personnel. These losses are felt by the Russian Federation itself. It is an undeniable fact. Therefore, they are forced to be more economical in terms of how they use their force, and they have to focus on certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions where they are trying to gain some strategic advantage." 

"However, we are going to frustrate their attack ... It is difficult to do that, but we intend to do so. For that, we need help from our Western partners that has already been announced and that has already been requested by Ukraine. We are just asking that this help arrives more quickly and in greater volumes because we will stress again that defending Ukraine today means defending the whole civilized world," he said.

While fighting has been going on in the region for years between Ukrainians and pro-Russian separatists, he claimed that pro-Russian sentiments have "been reduced" recently due to aggressive Russian military tactics.

1:48 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Russian foreign minister says new phase of Ukraine operation beginning

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a press conference in Moscow, Russia, on April 7.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a press conference in Moscow, Russia, on April 7. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that a new phase of the fighting in Ukraine has started, and it will be "a very important moment of this entire special operation."

"This operation in the east of Ukraine is aimed as it was announced from the very beginning to fully liberate the Donetsk and Luhansk republics," Lavrov said in an exclusive video interview to India Today. "Another stage of this operation is beginning and I'm sure this will be a very important moment of this entire special operation."

When asked repeatedly if Russia plans to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Lavrov said those allegations are coming from the Ukrainian side and specifically Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and that Russia historically has been against the use of nuclear weapons. 

"We never mentioned about this," Lavrov said, referencing comments made by Zelensky alleging Russia may use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. 

When asked the same question again, Lavrov said: "When the Soviet Union and the US in 1987, Gorbachev and Reagan decided that they have a special responsibility for peace on this planet, they signed a solemn declaration that there could be no winners in a nuclear war and therefore a nuclear war must never be launched.

Responding to a question about civilian deaths in Ukraine and holding Russian military forces accountable for possible violations, Lavrov said, "We have our law, which prohibits the military to do anything which is not allowed under international humanitarian law," adding "Any violations are absolutely registered and investigated." 

He also said reports about atrocities committed by Russian forces in Bucha are "staged and played." 

When asked about what exactly happed to the Russian cruiser Moskva, Lavrov directed the answer to the Russian Ministry of Defense. 

9:42 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

UK plans to revoke Moscow Stock Exchange's status as a recognized exchange

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi 

The office of the Moscow Exchange in the city of Moscow, Russia, on March 24.
The office of the Moscow Exchange in the city of Moscow, Russia, on March 24. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

Britain on Tuesday announced its intention to revoke the Moscow Stock Exchange’s status as a recognized stock exchange, according to a statement issued by British tax authority, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). 

The removal of status means that investors will no longer be able to access certain UK tax benefits in the future when trading on the Moscow Stock Exchange. 

However, existing investments will be protected.   

The move is the latest in a string of sanctions the British Government has imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

“As we continue to isolate Russia in response to their illegal war on Ukraine, revoking Moscow Stock Exchange’s recognized status sends a clear message – there is no case for new investments in Russia,” British Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Lucy Frazer, said in the statement. 

The recognized stock exchange status is a classification given by HMRC for tax purposes, enabling securities traded on a recognized exchange to be eligible for certain tax treatments and reliefs. 

9:24 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

IMF slashes global economic growth forecast due to war in Ukraine

From CNN’s Julia Horowitz in London

Servicemen of the Ukrainian Military Forces move to their position in the Luhansk region of Ukraine on March 8.
Servicemen of the Ukrainian Military Forces move to their position in the Luhansk region of Ukraine on March 8. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

The outlook assumes that the war remains confined to Ukraine, that further sanctions on Russia don't target its huge energy sector and the effects of the pandemic continue to fade.

IMF says the conflict will hit Ukraine and Russia the hardest. The IMF expects Ukraine's economy to shrink 35% this year, while the West's efforts to punish Russia are poised to cause its economy to contract by 8.5%. But because the war has caused a spike in the price of energy and other commodities, worsening supply chain problems and feeding expectations for more persistent inflation, its effects will be felt almost everywhere.

"The war will severely set back the global recovery, slowing growth and increasing inflation even further," the IMF said in its report, emphasizing that the world economy had not fully recovered from the coronavirus pandemic when Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

In Europe, which relies heavily on Russia to meet its energy needs, growth is now expected to slow to 2.8% in 2022, a downgrade of 1.1 percentage points versus January.

The United States is comparatively insulated. Yet weakness among its trading partners, as well as the Federal Reserve's plans to quickly pull back pandemic-era support for the economy and raise interest rates, are weighing on the outlook. The IMF projects US growth of 3.7% in 2022 and 2.3% in 2023, down 0.3 percentage points since its last forecast.

While the report observes that "global economic prospects have worsened significantly" since the start of the year, it does not predict a recession, which the IMF typically calls when growth falls to 2.5% or lower.

But the IMF also notes uncertainty "well beyond the normal range" surrounding its projections because of the unprecedented nature of the shock. And the risks of an even greater slowdown, combined with persistently high inflation, are rising.