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Haidai added that troops had withdrawn from the city and taken up new positions.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

9:08 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Netherlands will send "heavier material" to Ukraine, prime minister says

From CNN’s Alex Hardie

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Dutch House of Representatives in The Hague, Netherlands, on March 31.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Dutch House of Representatives in The Hague, Netherlands, on March 31. (Bart Maat/ANP/AFP/Getty Images)

The Netherlands will send “heavier material” to Ukraine, “including armored vehicles," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday.

In a tweet, Rutte said that he and the Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren had expressed their support to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone conversation, “as Russia begins a renewed offensive.”

“Together with allies, we are looking at the delivery of additional heavier equipment,” Rutte said.

Zelensky also tweeted after the phone call, saying that he had informed Rutte “about the aggravation of the situation in Donbas” and was “grateful” for the support.

“When peace is restored we'll build Ukraine-Netherlands relations of a new quality together in the EU!” Zelensky said. 

8:51 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Russian father seeks information on missing son after sinking of the Moskva

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Nathan Hodge

Images emerged early Monday, April 18, on social media showing Russia's guided-missile cruiser, the Moskva, badly damaged and on fire in the hours before the ship sunk in the Black Sea on April 14.
Images emerged early Monday, April 18, on social media showing Russia's guided-missile cruiser, the Moskva, badly damaged and on fire in the hours before the ship sunk in the Black Sea on April 14. (Social Media)

A Russian father took to social media to seek information on sailors missing after the sinking of the Russian guided-missile cruiser Moskva, amid limited information on Russian state media about the extent of casualties from the loss of the ship.

The Moskva, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, went down last week after what Ukrainian officials said was a strike with anti-ship missiles.

Russian authorities acknowledged that the vessel sank, but said only that the vessel went down following a fire on board and the explosion of ammunition.

Dmitry Shkrebets, the father of a conscript aboard the ship, wrote a post on the Russian social network Vkontakte claiming his son, Yegor Shkrebets, had been on the ship and served as a ship's cook.

"On the night of April 13 to April 14, a tragedy occurred, the truth about which we have yet to find out, the official report of the Ministry of Defense states that a fire broke out on the ship and the ammunition detonated," the elder Shkrebets wrote.

"It was reported that the entire crew had been evacuated. It's a lie! A blatant and cynical lie!"

He said he was informed that his son was not listed among the dead and wounded and was on a list of missing sailors.

"After my attempts to clarify the data on the incident, the cruiser commander and his deputy stopped communicating," Shkrebets said. "I asked directly why you, the officers, are alive, and my son, a conscript soldier, died?"

He added: "A man whose son was taken away in such a vile way is not afraid of anything!"

Russian President Vladimir Putin initially stated that Russian draftees would not take part in what the Russian government euphemistically refers to as the "special military operation" in Ukraine, but the Kremlin has acknowledged that the participation of conscripts in combat operations is being investigated.

Asked about the post by Shkrebets on Vkontakte, a Kremlin spokesperson referred all questions on the matter to the Russian military. CNN was unable to reach Shkrebets directly.

8:33 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

If Russians succeed in eastern Ukraine, they could "come back" to Kyiv, mayor's brother says

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.

"We can only defend our country during the war with the weapons. There is no other way. Otherwise, this senseless killing of the civilian population and destruction of our infrastructure is going to continue," Klitschko said. "I don't think we need any military. We just need weapons to defend ourselves."

He also emphasized the need to close the sky over Ukraine — something that Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenksy had earlier called on the international community to do. However, he has moved away from making that request more recently.

"[If] allies and partners cannot close the sky [over Ukraine,] we will constantly get bombarded with rockets and air strikes," he said. "So if you don't close the sky, just give us the weapons. We're going to close the sky on our own. And we have enough of our will to defend our country. We just need the equipment to do it."

Klitschko, who is also a member of the Kyiv Territorial Defense, called on the world to continue supplying weapons to Ukraine and increasing pressure on Russia with sanctions.

8:00 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

"Non-stop bombardment of civilian districts" in Kharkiv, city mayor tells CNN

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire burning at a garage in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on April 18.
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire burning at a garage in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on April 18. (Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)

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.

"The enemy is targeting civilians, many people are wounded and some unfortunately dead. In the past day and a half, we’ve had 15 people killed and more than 50 wounded. Those 15 killed was just in one attack."

Terekhov also said that Ukraine would fight for every bit of land and would not agree to territorial concessions while Russian attacks continue.