April 21, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Travis Caldwell, Andrew Raine, George Ramsay, Lianne Kolirin, Ivana Kottasová, Adrienne Vogt and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022
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11:57 a.m. ET, April 21, 2022

US Air Force designed drone system specifically to meet Ukrainian requirements, Pentagon says

From CNN's Michael Conte

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby holds a news briefing at the Pentagon on April 19 in Arlington, Virginia.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby holds a news briefing at the Pentagon on April 19 in Arlington, Virginia. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The US Air Force developed the new Phoenix Ghost drone system to meet Ukrainian needs, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.

The new US aid package for Ukraine includes more than 121 Phoenix Ghost systems, the Pentagon said.

“This was rapidly developed by the Air Force in response specifically to Ukrainian requirements," said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby in off-camera remarks to reporters.

“It provides similar capabilities to the Switchblade series of unmanned systems — similar capabilities, but not exact,” Kirby said. “There’s differences in the scope of capability for the Phoenix Ghost.”

But Kirby would not say what the differences in capabilities are between the Switchblade and Phoenix Ghost systems.

Kirby also said the new system will require “some minimal training for knowledgeable UAS operators,” and that the US Defense Department is “working through” those requirements with the Ukrainian military.

Additionally, concerning the howitzers in the new aid package that will be used to outfit five additional Ukrainian battalions, Kirby said they are being provided per Ukrainian needs for fighting in the Donbas region that the department expects to continue “over days and weeks ahead.”

11:23 a.m. ET, April 21, 2022

Zelensky thanks Biden for additional support for Ukraine

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked US President Joe Biden for his announcements of additional military and economic aid for Ukraine Thursday.

“I’m grateful to @POTUS & [American flag emoji] people for the leadership in supporting the people of Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression. This help is needed today more than ever! It saves the lives of our defenders of democracy and freedom and brings us closer to restoring peace in [Ukrainian flag emoji],” Zelensky said in a tweet.

Earlier, Biden announced $500 million in US assistance for the Ukrainian government and $800 million in military aid.

The $800 million package would include heavy artillery and drones, along with ammunition, Biden said.

And the $500 million in funding can be used by Ukraine’s government “to stabilize their economy, to support communities that have been devastated by the Russian onslaught, and pay the brave workers that continue to provide essential services to the people of Ukraine,” Biden said.

10:55 a.m. ET, April 21, 2022

Ukraine's parliament extends martial law by another 30 days

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv

The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, approved the extension of martial law in the country by another 30 days. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared martial law across the country following the Russian invasion on Feb. 24. 

10:49 a.m. ET, April 21, 2022

Biden says it's "questionable" whether Russia controls Mariupol

From CNN's Allie Malloy

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on April 21, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on April 21, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Evan Vucci/AP)

US President Joe Biden said Thursday it was “questionable” whether Russian President Vladimir Putin controls Mariupol, Ukraine.

“It’s questionable whether he does control Mariupol,” Biden said adding, “There is no evidence yet that Mariupol is completely fallen.”

Biden also called on Putin to allow humanitarian aid into Ukraine to allow those trapped inside the steel plant to be able to get out.

“That’s what any head of state would do in any circumstance,” Biden added.

CNN reported Thursday that Putin has scrapped plans to storm the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, saying those who choose to surrender should be treated in accordance with international conventions. Putin ordered forces to blockade the plant "so that a fly can't get through."

Ukrainian forces are continuing to resist attacks on the plant and ignoring Russian calls to surrender. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the country's forces don’t have enough "serious and heavy" weapons to defeat the Russian army in Mariupol as "thousands" of civilians remain trapped inside.

10:41 a.m. ET, April 21, 2022

Biden says Russian offensive will be "more limited in terms of geography but not in terms of brutality"

While US President Joe Biden announced an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine, he said Russian President Vladimir Putin will refocus his invasion of Ukraine on the eastern part of the country.

"Now we have to accelerate that assistance package to help prepare Ukraine for Russia's offensive that's going to be more limited in terms of geography but not in terms of brutality," Biden said in remarks from The White House.

Biden also reflected on the war so far, and said Putin is still trying to break up Western unity against the war. He said Putin will "never succeed in dominating and occupying all of Ukraine."

"We don't know how long this war will last but as we approach the two-month mark, here's what we do know, Putin has failed to achieve his grand ambitions on the battlefield. After weeks of shelling Kyiv — Kyiv still stands. President Zelensky and his democratic-elected government still remain in power," Biden said.

"And the Ukrainian Armed Forces, joined by many brave Ukrainian civilians, have thwarted Russia's conquest of the country. They've been bolstered from day one by an unstinting supply of weapons, ammunition, armor, intelligence, from the nations of the free world led by us, the United States," the US President said.

"As Russia continues to grind out the military advances ... and the brutality against Ukraine, Putin is banking on us losing interest. That's been my view, you've heard me say this from the beginning, he was counting on NATO, European Union, our allies and Asia, cracking, moving away. He's betting on Western unity will crack. He's still betting on that. Once again, we're going to prove him wrong. We will not lessen our resolve," he continued.

10:42 a.m. ET, April 21, 2022

Biden announces $500 million in Ukrainian government aid and new program for refugees

From CNN's Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden announced a separate tranche of $500 million in US assistance for the Ukrainian government in addition to the $800 million in military aid he pledged Thursday.

 “In addition to bolstering Ukraine's resistance on the battlefield, we're also demonstrating our support for the people of Ukraine. Today, the United States is announcing that we intend to provide an additional $500 million in direct economic assistance to the Ukrainian government,” Biden said in remarks in the Roosevelt Room.

The new aid brings the total US economic support for Ukraine, the President said, to $1 billion in the past nearly two months since Russia’s invasion.

The $500 million in funding can be used by Ukraine’s government “to stabilize their economy, to support communities that have been devastated by the Russian onslaught, and pay the brave workers that continue to provide essential services to the people of Ukraine,” Biden said.

He also announced “Unite for Ukraine,” a new effort to support Ukrainians seeking to come to the US amid the ongoing, brutal invasion, with approximately two-thirds of Ukrainian children displaced.

“I'm announcing a program, ‘Unite for Ukraine,’ a new program to enable Ukrainians seeking refuge to come directly from Europe to the United States. This new humanitarian parole program will complement the existing legal pathways available to Ukrainians, including immigrant visas and refugees processing,” Biden said.

He described it as “an expedient channel for secure legal migration from Europe to the United States for Ukrainians,” noting that those migrants must have a US sponsor, including a family or non-governmental organization.

“This program will be fast, it’ll be streamlined, and it will ensure the United States honors its commitment to to the people Ukraine and need not go through our southern border,” he said.

Biden said the United States' new actions were intending to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin as he continues his violent incursion into a third month.

“Our unity with our allies and partners and our unity with the Ukrainian people is sending an unmistakable message to Putin: He will never succeed in dominating and occupying all of Ukraine. He will not,” he said.

10:24 a.m. ET, April 21, 2022

Biden says he'll make formal request to Congress next week on second supplemental funding package for Ukraine

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on April 21, in Washington, D.C.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on April 21, in Washington, D.C. (Evan Vucci/AP)

US President Joe Biden announced Thursday he will make a formal request next week for Congress to approve a second supplemental funding package to aid Ukraine.

Biden said he expected Congress to “move and act quickly” on the package.

“In order to sustain Ukraine for the duration of this fight, next week I’m going to have to be sending to Congress a supplemental budget request to keep weapons and ammunition flowing without interruption to the brave Ukrainian fighters and continue to deliver economic assistance to the Ukrainian people,” Biden said in remarks from the White House.

Biden also made a point to thank American taxpayers and military for their contributions Ukraine.

In speaking about the importance of getting aid to Ukraine, Biden took liberties on a famous phrase by former US President Teddy Roosevelt, telling reporters, “Sometimes we will speak softly and carry a large javelin, because we’re sending a lot of those in as well.”

10:19 a.m. ET, April 21, 2022

Biden announces ban on Russian-linked ships in US ports

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on April 21, in Washington, D.C.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on April 21, in Washington, D.C. (Evan Vucci/AP)

US President Joe Biden said Thursday the US will ban Russian-affiliated ships from American ports in a bid to further isolate Moscow amid its invasion of Ukraine.

"No ship that sailed under the Russian flag, or that is owned or operated by Russian interests, will be allowed to dock in the United States port or access our shores," Biden said in remarks at the White House. 

He said it was "another critical step" the US was taking alongside its allies in Canada and Europe "to deny Russia the benefits of international economic system that they so enjoyed in the past."

10:12 a.m. ET, April 21, 2022

Biden says war in Ukraine is at a "critical window"

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Thursday, April 21, in Washington D.C.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Thursday, April 21, in Washington D.C. (Evan Vucci/AP)

US President Joe Biden said he spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who was at the White House this morning meeting with US national security adviser Jake Sullivan, along with Ambassador Oksana Markarova.

"We had a good discussion. I talked about what I'm about to tell you about today, as well as he was thanking the American people for their support, understands it's significant, and we talked about keeping everyone together in terms of Europe, European Union and others, in the effort to stop Putin's brutality," Biden said.

Biden said "enormous credit" should be given to agencies on the ground exposing "war crimes."

"It's so clear to the whole world now. Now [Russia has] launched and refocused their campaign to seize new territory in eastern Ukraine, and we're in a critical window now of time where they're going to set the stage for the next phase of this war," Biden continued.

The US and its allies are "moving as fast as possible" to provide weapons to Ukrainian forces to defend their country, he said, announcing another $800 million in military assistance.