Russia invades Ukraine

By Julia Hollingsworth, Joshua Berlinger, Sana Noor Haq, John Sinnott, Adrienne Vogt, Veronica Rocha and Emma Tucker, CNN

Updated 12:17 a.m. ET, April 3, 2022
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8:58 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Zelensky: Russian forces are "slowly but noticeably" moving out of northern Ukraine

From CNN's Mitchell McCluskey

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a video address on Friday April 1.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a video address on Friday April 1. (Ukrainian Government/Facebook)

Russian troops are “slowly but noticeably” moving out of the north of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Friday.

“The occupiers are withdrawing forces in the north of our country. The withdrawal is slow but noticeable. Somewhere they are expelled with battles. Somewhere they leave positions on their own,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky also urged Ukrainians to remain cautious in the north as troops withdraw.

“We are moving forward. Moving carefully. And everyone who returns to this area must also be very careful. It is still impossible to return to normal life as it was. Even in the areas we return after the fighting. You will have to wait. Wait for our land to be cleared. Wait until you can be assured that new shelling is impossible,” he said.

In eastern Ukraine, Zelensky said preparations are underway for more Russian strikes in the Donbas region and the country's second-largest city, Kharkiv.

“In the east of our country, the situation remains extremely difficult. The Russian militaries are being accumulated in Donbas, in the Kharkiv direction. They are preparing for new powerful blows. We are preparing for even more active defense,” Zelensky said.

"Humanitarian catastrophe": Zelensky added that 6,266 people were rescued through evacuation corridors in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia on Friday.

Zelensky also commented on a conversation he had with French President Emmanuel Macron, in which they discussed the humanitarian situation in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol.

“Europe has no right to react in silence to what is happening in our Mariupol. The whole world must react to this humanitarian catastrophe,” Zelensky said.
9:20 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Bodies seen on street in Bucha, where Ukrainians have retaken territory from retreating Russians

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Volunteers inspect a body left on a street in Bucha, Ukraine on April 1.
Volunteers inspect a body left on a street in Bucha, Ukraine on April 1. (Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters)

Bodies are seen laying in the street where they fell in Bucha, a city on the northwestern outskirts of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, in new video posted to social media.

CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the video, which was taken on Friday.

In the video, a number of bodies are seen in the street. It's unclear from the video whether the bodies are civilians or the military.

However, it’s clear from the video one of them was killed while riding a bicycle.

There's been roughly five weeks of near constant, intense firefights taking place in Bucha, which is just south of Hostomel, the site of the Antonov Airport. Russian forces stormed the airfield on the first day of the war and have recently abandoned it in their retreat from the greater Kyiv area.

12:08 a.m. ET, April 2, 2022

Russian forces have withdrawn from Antonov Airport, outside of Kyiv, satellite images confirm

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

A satellite image shows empty revetments at Antonov Airport in Hostomel, Ukraine on March 31.
A satellite image shows empty revetments at Antonov Airport in Hostomel, Ukraine on March 31. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

New satellite images show Russian forces have withdrawn from the Antonov Airport in Hostomel, 18 miles (about 29 kilometers) northwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

The images, taken Thursday by Maxar Technologies, confirm earlier information from an official with the US Department of Defense, who told CNN they believed the Russian military had likely left the airport.

A satellite overview show's the abandoned Antonov airfield.
A satellite overview show's the abandoned Antonov airfield. (Maxar Technologies)

Previous satellite images showed the Russians had constructed protective earthen berms around military vehicles and artillery positions after weeks of digging in at the airport. Now, just the berms remain. 

First Russian victory: The capture of the Antonov airfield was the first major victory notched by the Russians on the first day of the war — Feb. 24. A number of transport and attack helicopters ambushed the base, and the Ukrainian soldiers stationed there; CNN witnessed some of the intense firefight at the base.

Since then, Ukrainian forces held strong against the Russian advance; they never made it closer to western Kyiv. Intense firefights took place along the Irpin River and the cities of Irpin and Bucha, just south of the air base and Hostomel. 

A satellite image shows an area where artillery batteries were seen previously.
A satellite image shows an area where artillery batteries were seen previously. (Maxar Technologies)

Russia's Defense Ministry released a number of videos praising the ease at which they claimed to have taken the air base. Russian state media echoed those claims, even traveling with troops around the airport as evidence of how safe the area was.

Now, the abandonment is another example of Russia’s waning military success around the Ukrainian capital.

More empty revetments are seen near the airport.
More empty revetments are seen near the airport. (Maxar Technologies)

Russian repositioning: At this time, it's unclear where the military and artillery vehicles went. Russia has previously claimed it would decrease its military activity around Kyiv. All of the military forces and vehicles that were positioned west of Kyiv came from Belarus.

The Russians aren't saying if they returned to Belarus, and thick cloud cover is currently preventing any satellite imagery from tracking Russian troop movements in the area.

8:33 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

More than 6,000 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Friday, official says

From CNN's Julia Presniakova and Nathan Hodge

Evacuees arrive on a bus at the registration center in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on April 1.
Evacuees arrive on a bus at the registration center in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on April 1. (Emre Caylak/AFP/Getty Images)

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine's minister of reintegration of temporarily occupied territories, said 6,266 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Friday.

The update came via a statement, in which Vereshchuk noted the figure includes 1,431 people who moved from the southern cities of Berdiansk and Melitopol — in their own vehicles — to the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia, via evacuation corridors.

Of that number, she said, 771 people originally came from the besieged city of Mariupol.

Meanwhile, said Vereshchuk, a separate convoy of 42 buses from the city of Berdiansk — carrying Mariupol residents — had passed a key Russian checkpoint and was en route to Zaporizhzhia. Including additional buses from Melitopol, those convoys were carrying more than 2,500 people.

Additionally, the official said 10 buses had arrived from Zaporizhzhia to Berdiansk delivering 80 tons of humanitarian aid.

"Tomorrow morning they will continue the evacuation of Mariupol residents," she added. 
8:04 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Russia accuses Ukraine of helicopter strikes on fuel depot in Russian territory

From CNN's Jake Kwon, Masha Angelova, Nathan Hodge and Uliana Pavlova

Russia accused Ukraine of mounting a helicopter attack on a fuel depot inside Russian territory Friday, as footage surfaced of the facility engulfed in flames.

In a statement, Russia's Ministry of Defense said that the helicopters "entered the airspace of the Russian Federation at extremely low altitude," at 5 a.m. Moscow time and "launched a missile attack on a civilian oil storage facility located on the outskirts of Belgorod."

As a result, "individual tanks were damaged and caught fire," spokesperson Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, adding that the depot "has nothing to do with Russian armed forces."

CNN could not verify the Russian claims.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has neither confirmed nor denied the attack. Russia has hit fuel storage facilities around Ukraine in recent days.

"I would like to emphasize that Ukraine is performing a defensive operation against Russian aggression on the territory of Ukraine," Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, spokesman for Ukraine's defense ministry, said in a televised statement Friday.
"That doesn't mean Ukraine has to be responsible for every miscalculation or event or catastrophe that occurred on the territory of the Russian Federation. This is not the first time we are witnessing such accusations. Therefore, I will neither confirm nor deny this information."

CNN geolocated and verified social media videos showing two helicopters flying over the Russian city of Belgorod, near the Ukrainian border, but cannot confirm the helicopters are Ukrainian.

Read more:

7:59 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Europe rejected Putin's ultimatum. So why is Russian gas still flowing?

From CNN's Mark Thompson

Vladimir Putin's deadline has come and gone and Russian natural gas is still flowing to Europe.

The Russian President delivered an ultimatum Thursday to "unfriendly" nations to pay for their energy in rubles starting April 1 or risk being cut off from vital supplies. Was that a bluff?

It's too early to say, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that Russia would not turn off gas supplies to Europe immediately.

Putin's high-stakes threat has sent shockwaves through Europe, which cannot keep its economy running for long without Russian energy. Moscow sent a clear signal that it could at some point reduce natural gas flows — perhaps to deter or respond to even tougher Western sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

Why does all this matter? Europe gets about 40% of its natural gas from Russia, carried on pipelines through Belarus, Ukraine, and Poland or under the Baltic Sea. Germany is the biggest buyer and its huge manufacturing industry guzzles the gas, and the power it generates, in vast quantities.

The German government this week activated the first of three stages of a crisis management plan that could ultimately result in energy rationing, and is appealing to the public to use as little as possible.

Any significant loss of Russian supply would likely tip Europe's biggest economy into recession — and potentially the wider region too. Soaring gas prices are already making energy-intensive industries unprofitable and causing pain for many households. Survey data published Friday showed German manufacturing at its lowest ebb in 18 months. The picture isn't much brighter elsewhere in Europe.

What does Russia want? Most of Russia's gas export contracts are currently priced in euros or US dollars. According to the decree signed by Putin on Thursday, foreign buyers must open accounts at a Russian state-controlled bank, instead of dealing directly with state gas giant Gazprom. They would deposit euros into one account. The bank would sell the euros for rubles and transfer those into another account in the buyer's name to be used to pay for gas.

Moscow may be trying to bolster demand for the ruble — which has recovered after crashing in the immediate aftermath of the invasion and ensuing sanctions. But the Kremlin had already forced Gazprom (and other big Russian exporters) to convert 80% of their foreign currency revenues into rubles, so any gain would be limited.

Read more:

9:51 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

On the ground: CNN reports from Zaporizhzhia as buses carrying evacuees from Mariupol begin to arrive  

Refugees from Mariupol and nearby towns arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on Friday, April 1.
Refugees from Mariupol and nearby towns arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on Friday, April 1. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

After authorities encountered several issues in evacuating civilians from Mariupol, they were finally put on buses in the city of Berdyansk and headed to the Ukrainian government-held city of Zaporizhzhia on Friday, according to the Mariupol city council. And moments ago, the buses started arriving at the destination.

CNN's Ivan Watson, who is on the ground, said officials are vetting people and their documents before letting them off the buses.

"Then there's an entire system of volunteers, city government officials, aid workers who will greet people. Almost everybody I've spoken to says their home has been destroyed in Mariupol," Watson said.

Some men said they were asked to remove their shirts at Russian military checkpoints, and they were checked for tattoos that the Russian forces could believe would help identify if they were part of Ukrainian military, Watson said.

A passenger on the bus said "an 18-year-old boy was seen with tattoos and was immediately hooded by the Russian troops and thrown into an armored personnel carrier and taken away," Watson reported.

"Not only have people here endured bombardment, siege, hiding in basements, seeing their homes destroyed, perhaps seeing neighbors hurt or killed, but then when they finally get to escape, they have to undergo interrogation and searches by the same military that destroyed their city and their homes in the first place," he added.

All of the vehicles arriving have been branded with the Red Cross logo to try to ensure they cannot be attacked on the road, Watson reported.

The organization had been at work, trying to assist with safe passage.

More than 100,000 residents remain trapped in the southern port city, according to officials.

Watch CNN's reporting on the ground: