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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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.

7:31 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are bombing Mariupol's Azovstal factory

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv

Maxar satellite imagery overview of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, eastern Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 9.
Maxar satellite imagery overview of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, eastern Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 9. (Maxar Technologies/Getty Images)

Ukrainian officials said Tuesday that Russian forces had begun bombing and shelling the Azovstal factory in the besieged city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian forces and civilians remain encircled.

Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said in a statement that Russian forces "are not only striking Azovstal with bombs but also with artillery and tanks, continuing their chaotic attacks on the residential area of the Left Bank (Livoberezhnyi) district along the line from the Meotidy Boulevard."

Andriushchenko is not in Mariupol but maintains a network of contacts in the city. CNN cannot independently confirm the location of Russian strikes, but pro-Kremlin media embedded with separatists and Russian forces have released footage of the shelling of Azovstal. 

The Russian military gave Ukrainians defending Azovstal until 12 p.m. Moscow time Tuesday (5 a.m. ET) to surrender — a deadline that has now passed. 

Liudmyla Denisova, the Ukrainian parliament's human-rights ombudsman, said that about 1,000 civilians, including children, remain in the basement of the plant, a figure consistent with estimates provided by Ukrainian units defending the plant. 

Denisova claimed that Russian forces had ordered residents to wear white armbands — similar to those worn as friend-or-foe identifiers by Russian and separatist forces — when moving around Mariupol, making them harder to distinguish from combatants. 

CNN could not verify that claim. 

Mariupol has been under relentless bombardment for weeks, with more than 90% of the city's infrastructure damaged or destroyed, according to Ukrainian estimates.

7:32 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Denmark to increase gas production in North Sea to reduce Russian dependency, prime minister says

From CNN's Benjamin Brown

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks during a joint media conference at the President's palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 31.
Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks during a joint media conference at the President's palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 31. (Mindaugas Kulbis/AP)

Denmark will increase its natural gas production in the North Sea “for a limited time period,” to reduce its dependency on Russian energy, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Tuesday. 

Denmark is ultimately aiming to phase out its use natural gases to become independent of Russian supplies, Frederiksen added.

“We are convinced it’s better to produce gas in the North Sea than buying it from Vladimir Putin,” she said.

Despite the “temporary increase,” Frederiksen assured that Denmark remained committed to plans to end its North Sea oil and gas production by 2050.

Some background: Meanwhile on Tuesday, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said France supported extending sanctions on Russian oil.

France has been attempting to persuade European partners to stop imports of Russian oil, Le Maire said, alleging that some countries were "hesitant" to do so.

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

It's 2 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

Russian forces have regrouped and launched an offensive in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine — a moment one Ukrainian lawmaker described as "the major battle" of the war.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian official says control of Kreminna in the eastern Luhansk region has been "lost" in heavy fighting as Russia continues to bombard cities across the country.

Here are the latest developments:

  • The battle for Donbas: 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.
  • Kreminna control lost: Control over Kreminna 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.
  • Mariupol fate hangs in balance: 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.
  • Not a "single place" safe in Ukraine: Ihor Zhovka, 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 sinking latest: 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.
6:38 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to meet Zelensky in Kyiv this week

From CNN's Al Goodman in Madrid

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Spanish parliament via video link on April 5, in Madrid, Spain.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Spanish parliament via video link on April 5, in Madrid, Spain. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will travel to Kyiv in the next few days to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a senior Spanish government official told CNN Tuesday.

The official said they could not release any more information "for security reasons."

Spain announced Monday it would be reopening its Kyiv embassy "in the coming days."

The embassy was shut with personnel evacuated to Warsaw in neighboring Poland soon after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February.

The reopening will be "a new sign of the commitment of the Spanish government and society to the Ukrainian people," Sánchez told Spanish TV Antena 3 on Monday.

7:09 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Greece seizes Russian tanker following EU sanctions

From CNN's Chris Liakos in Paris

The Russian-flagged oil tanker Pegas is pictured at a port in Marmara Ereglisi, western Turkey, on January 16.
The Russian-flagged oil tanker Pegas is pictured at a port in Marmara Ereglisi, western Turkey, on January 16. (Yoruk Isik/Reuters)

Greek authorities have seized a Russian tanker off the southern coast of the Greek island of Evia, a spokesperson for the country's Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy confirmed to CNN Tuesday.

Pegas, the crude oil tanker sailing under the Russian flag with 19 Russian crew members on board was seized near the town of Karystos on April 15 as part of the European Union's latest sanctions, the spokesperson said.

They added that the authorities seized the vessel but not its oil cargo, and the ministry could not provide further details at this point.

Some background: The EU's latest sanctions package announced earlier this month includes the closing of EU ports to Russian vessels. Exemptions were granted to vessels carrying energy, food and other humanitarian aid.

6:14 a.m. ET, April 19, 2022

China tells Russia it will strengthen "strategic cooperation" regardless of international landscape

From CNN's Beijing Bureau

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China, on April 16 2021.
Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China, on April 16 2021. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

China says it will "continue to strengthen strategic coordination" with Russia, regardless of how the "international landscape may change," according to a statement released by China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.

China's Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng expressed this view to the Russian ambassador to China Andrey Denisov during a meeting on Monday, the ministry said.

"No matter how the international landscape may change, China will continue to strengthen strategic coordination with Russia to achieve win-win cooperation, jointly safeguard our common interests and promote the building of a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind," Le said, according to the statement.

Le cited a nearly 30% increase in trade between the two countries during the first quarter of the year, reaching around $38.2 billion, as a testament to the "tremendous resilience" of its bilateral cooperation.

The two sides also exchanged views on Ukraine, as well as other international and regional issues of concern. However, no further details were provided by the ministry.

Some context: In public statements and at international summits, Chinese officials have attempted to stake out a seemingly neutral position on the war in Ukraine, neither condemning Russian actions nor ruling out the possibility Beijing could act as a mediator in a push for peace.

Before the invasion, allies China and Russia proclaimed their relationship had "no limits."

But Beijing has since been quietly distancing itself from Russia's sanction-hit economy and has repeatedly denounced sanctions against Moscow as an ineffective way of resolving the crisis.