April 21, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

Anastasiia One World 01
'We don't believe you': Ukrainian woman interrogated by Russian soldiers
03:46 - Source: CNN

What we covered

  • Ukrainian officials and satellite images point to evidence of mass graves outside the besieged city of Mariupol. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky likened the siege to a “terrorist operation.”
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the effort by Russian forces to capture Mariupol a “success” but ordered troops to stop short of trying to storm the Azovstal steel plant, which is still held by Ukrainian forces. 
  • US President Joe Biden announced an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine as the war enters what he called a “critical window.” Biden also announced a new program for Ukrainian refugees to enter the US on humanitarian grounds.
  • Ukraine’s military intelligence released purported communications of Russian forces referring to an alleged order to kill Ukrainian prisoners of war in the city of Popasna in the eastern region of Luhansk, which is bearing the brunt of Russia’s renewed attack.  
  • Having connection issues? Bookmark CNN’s lite site for fast connectivity.
75 Posts

Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev says Wimbledon ban is "illogical" and "discriminatory"

After advancing to the quarterfinals of the Serbia Open in Belgrade on Thursday, Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev told reporters in a post-match press conference that the decision made by Wimbledon organizers to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing because of the war in Ukraine is “illogical” and amounts to “complete discrimination.”

Rublev, after defeating Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic in the round of 16, gave a statement to reporters, saying he and other players had a call with Wimbledon organizers on Wednesday to talk about the situation to see if they could find a solution.

“To be honest, the reasons that they give, there is no meaning, there is no logic for what they propose,” Rublev said.
He later added, “The things that happen now is complete discrimination.”

It was proposed to Wimbledon that players should have “at least a chance to choose if we want to play or we don’t want to play,” Rublev said.

“And if there is a statement that we need to sign and on top of that to give all the prize money to humanitarian help, to the families who are suffering, to the kids who suffer, I think that move at least will do something, at least a bit. And it will show that the England government is standing for the peace and they really want to help.”

Rublev wrapped up his statement the way he opened it: reaffirming his apolitical status.

“At the end of the day we want to compete,” Rublev said. “We are not here to talk about politics, because I have no idea, anything about this. At the end of the day I am Russian, and I was born in Russia and I’ve lived all my life in Russia, and I just want to show that we are good people.”

A few days after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Rublev — who at the time was competing at an ATP 500 event in Dubai — wrote, “No war please” on a camera after winning a match. He went on to win that tournament.

Rublev is ranked No. 8 in the world in men’s singles. He is one of several high-profile players who would be prevented from competing in the third major of the calendar year.

If the ban stands, others who would be impacted in men’s singles include No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, No. 26 Karen Khachanov and No. 30 Aslan Karatsev — all of whom are Russian.

On the women’s side, those currently ranked in the top 30 who would be affected are No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, No. 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, No. 18 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, No. 26 Daria Kasatkina of Russia and No. 29 Veronika Kudermetova of Russia.

"I can’t leave it": The residents of an embattled Donbas village are determined to stay

Galina Nikolaevna is weeping in the wreckage of her home in the village of Kamyshevakha in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Two days ago, a couple of Russian shells landed on the house and the garage, making it uninhabitable.

But Nikolaevna and her husband are refusing to leave.

Like so many people here, they have nowhere to go and no means to support themselves, Nikolaevna said. She has been told that it costs $300 just to get to Bakhmut, the nearest town under full Ukrainian control.

This village, on the outskirts of Popasna in Luhansk, has been hit hard by artillery over the past days. People here are now completely cut off from basic services. Large buckets and troughs are laid out in front of the damaged building to collect the rainwater. 

Read the full story:

Aleksandr Prokopenko sets out from Bakhmut to rescue residents near his hometown turned battleground of Popasna village. "I love my town and I can't leave it," Prokopenko says. "I can't leave the people here. Somebody needs to help people."

Related article 'I can't leave it': The residents of an embattled Donbas village are determined to stay | CNN

Estonian and Latvian parliaments say Russia has committed genocide

The Estonian and Latvian parliaments adopted statements on Thursday saying Russia has committed genocide in Ukraine.

In its statement, Estonia said “systematic and massive war crimes have been committed against the Ukrainian nation by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” according to its parliament, the Riigikogu.

It cited the towns of Bucha, Borodianka, Hostomel, Irpin and Mariupol as well as other settlements that were occupied by Russian forces.

“The Russian Federation has committed acts of genocide, inter alia mass atrocities against the civilian population. These have consisted of murders, enforced disappearances, deportations, imprisonment, torture, rape, and desecration of corpses,” the statement said.

Latvia’s parliament, the Saeima, unanimously adopted the statement, saying it was based on “extensive testimonies and evidence of brutal mass atrocities — the murders, torture, sexual violence and desecration of Ukrainian civilians, including women and children.”

“As a member state of the UN, the Council of Europe, the EU, and NATO and a defender of democratic values, Latvia cannot accept the actions of the Russian Federation, carrying out mass destruction of Ukrainian people,” it said in a press release.

What is genocide: The UN defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” Genocide is when crimes against humanity are carried out with the goal of eliminating a population.

US President Joe Biden recently called the atrocities being uncovered in Ukraine  “genocide.”

Zelensky: Any new Russian annexation will lead to sanctions that will make Russia as poor as it was in 1917

In his nightly address on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russia that any attempts at annexation will lead to sanctions that will leave it as poor as it was after its civil war in 1917.

“I want to say straight away: any ‘Kherson People’s Republics’ are not going to fly. If someone wants a new annexation, it can only lead to new powerful sanctions strikes on Russia. You will make your country as poor as Russia hasn’t been since the 1917 civil war. So it is better to seek peace now,” Zelensky said.

He urged the residents of the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be very careful about the information they provide to Russian troops.

“If they ask you to fill out some questionnaires, leave your passport data somewhere, you should know - this is not to help you … This is aimed to falsify the so-called referendum on your land, if an order comes from Moscow to stage such a show,” he said.

Zelensky thanked the prime ministers of Spain and Denmark for their support as they arrived in Kyiv and thanked the Danish prime minister for showing readiness to support post-war reconstruction in Ukraine, particularly in Mykolaiv.

The Ukrainian president also thanked the US for additional support, saying, “The United States has announced a new package of support for our state. We are grateful for that. This package contains very powerful defense tools for our military. In particular, it is artillery, shells, drones. This is what we expected.”

Earlier on Thursday, Zelensky addressed the Parliament of Portugal and said as of Thursday, Russian forces have killed at least 1,126 Ukrainians in the Kyiv region alone, of which 40 are children. He also said Russian forces have already “deported” at least 500,000 Ukrainians from the territory they have occupied.

"Unpunished evil always returns," former Ukrainian prime minister warns about not punishing Russia

World leaders need to “facilitate a real legal mechanism” to hold Russian President accountable for committing “crimes against humanity,” former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said in an interview with CNN Thursday.

“Unpunished evil always returns. Putin and his military committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The incumbent legal machinery is not capable of bringing to justice Putin and these criminals. So it is important to realize that we need urgently to facilitate a real legal mechanism,” he said, adding that sending a message to Moscow is not enough.

“We need to send a legal team to every single spot where Putin committed these crimes and actually orchestrate a legal case against Putin.”

Ministers walk out of International Monetary and Financial Committee meeting as Russian minister speaks

Several ministers walked out during the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) meeting in Washington, DC, Thursday as Russia’s financial minster spoke, the Danish financial minster told CNN.

“I saw colleagues from all over the world sending a very clear message to President Putin and to Russia that we will under no circumstances accept the war on Ukraine and we stand firmly behind the Ukrainian people,” Wammen said.

Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister and head of the IMFC Nadia Calvino told Quest that the meeting was “not business as usual” and that “different countries different members expressed their views in a different manner, but overall this has been a very productive meeting.”

Following a meeting of the IMFC, a joint communique is normally issued, however, for the first time in history it was not as Russia refused to approve it.

Despite this, Calvino said that the outcome of the meeting was still positive and “when a consensus based organization sees one country walk away, that makes it impossible to have a unanimously agreed communique but that doesn’t mean there is no agreement on the substantive issues.

US welcomes suspension of Russia's Permanent Observer Status at the Organization of American States 

The United States welcomed Russia’s suspension from its permanent observer status at the Organization of American States, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Thursday.

“With the passage of this resolution, OAS member states demonstrated that we do not stand on the sidelines in the face of the Russian government’s violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses,” Blinken said. “Our Hemisphere stands with Ukraine.”

There were 25 votes in favor, zero against, eight abstentions and one absence on the resolution titled “Suspension of the Status of the Russian Federation as a Permanent Observer of the Organization of American States.” 

Blinken said they “commend the governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala for leading the adoption of the resolution, and all the governments that supported it.”

Evacuation going "very slowly" in Mariupol, Ukraine's deputy prime minister says 

The evacuation of civilians is going “very slowly” in the besieged eastern city of Mariupol, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Thursday.

“There is nothing to delight about Mariupol. Everything is going very slowly. On the Russian side, everything is very complicated, chaotic, slow and, of course, dishonest,” she said in a post on Telegram messaging app. 

Vereshchuk noted that, for the first time, people went from Mariupol to Zaporizhia directly on Wednesday, and that it gives her “hope.”

She apologized to those who did not get evacuated on Thursday. “The shelling started near the collection point, which forced the corridor to be closed,” the official said.

“Dear citizens of Mariupol: as long as we have at least some opportunities, we will not give up trying to get you out of there! Hold on!” she concluded.

Zelensky says Ukraine needs $7 billion in assistance per month to make up for economic losses from war

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that Ukraine needs $7 billion per month in financial assistance to make up for the economic losses from the war. 

In a virtual address to a World Bank forum, Zelenksy also said that it would take “hundreds of billions of dollars” to rebuild his country later. 

He said every country must be prepared to break all relations with Russia and that Moscow should “immediately” be excluded from all international financial institutions including the IMF and the World Bank.

Zelensky went on to say that Russia was “using aggressive methods in world markets while fighting this war” and these institutions were no place for them. 

Zelensky ended his address by saying he hoped the next meeting would take place in one of the cities in Ukraine that had been rebuilt with the support of the IMF and World Bank.

"Nothing less than an accolade," US State Department spokesperson says of Russian sanction against him

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Thursday “it is nothing less than an accolade to earn the ire” of the Russian government by being sanctioned.

“In addition to the Vice President, today’s tranche included journalists and spokespeople for this administration, myself included,” Price said at a State Department briefing. “I have to say it is nothing less than an accolade to earn the ire of a government that lies to its own people, brutalizes its neighbors and seeks to create a world where freedom and liberty are put on the run and, if they had their way, extinguished.”

It is “a great honor to share that enmity with other truth tellers, my colleagues John Kirby and Jen Psaki, as well as a number of journalists who have done incredible work, sharing the jarring, bloody truth of Russia’s actions in Ukraine,” he added.

Russia has banned a slew of US figures including US Vice President Kamala Harris from entering the country, Reuters quoted the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying.

US Vice President Kamala Harris and Mark Zuckerberg among latest banned from entering Russia in sanctions 

Russia on Thursday expanded its “stop list” banning a further 29 American officials and figures from entering Russia on an indefinite basis, including US Vice President Kamala Harris and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that the list was published “in response to the ever-expanding anti-Russian sanctions” and includes US individuals of “the top leaders, businessmen, experts and journalists who form the Russophobic agenda.” 

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky, ABC TV host George Stephanopoulos, and Bank of America head Brian Moynihan have also been added to the list. 

 “In the near future, a new announcement will follow about the next replenishment of the Russian ‘stop list,” the statement said.  

Ukraine successfully evacuated 79 civilians from besieged city of Mariupol on Thursday, regional official says

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Donetsk regional military administrator, said 79 residents of the besieged city of Mariupol were safely evacuated to Zaproizhzhia on Thursday. 

In a Telegram post, Kyrylenko said that after several delays and failed attempts to open an evacuation corridor from the besieged city, “this is the first time since the beginning of the blockade of Mariupol by the Russian occupation forces, we managed to evacuate local residents in an organized manner and take them to safety.”

Kyrylenko said almost 100,000 residents of Mariupol have already arrived in Zaporizhzhia, promising that Ukrainian authorities will continue to work hard so that everyone who wants to escape the besieged city can do so.

Kyrylenko said during previous attempts to pull civilians out, the Russian forces broke their agreements, forcing those escaping to rely on private transport.

“This time, four buses managed to leave the besieged city in an organized manner. It is much less than agreed, but we still rejoice for every life saved,” Kyrylenko said before congratulating all the evacuees who had managed to escape.

It's just past 9:30 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

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.

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.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Ukraine, evacuation efforts have become difficult.

Here’s what you need to know:

Ukraine’s military release apparent Russian communications intercept with alleged order to kill Ukrainian POWs: Ukraine’s military intelligence on Wednesday released a purported communications intercept of Russian armed forces referring to an alleged order to kill Ukrainian prisoners of war in the city of Popasna in the eastern region of Luhansk, which is bearing the brunt of Russia’s renewed attack.   

“The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine received an audio interception of the occupiers’ conversation, which refers to the order to kill all prisoners of war of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who are in their captivity in the area of Popasna (Luhansk Region),” Ukrainian military intelligence tweeted on Wednesday. 

“This is a blatant war crime, a violation of international law, and another striking example that the Russian military are murderers, rapists, and looters,” it added. 

The alleged intercepted audio recording released Wednesday appears to feature the voices of unknown Russian soldiers saying: “What can I tell you, damn it, [expletive], for [unintelligible] — you keep the most senior among them, and let the rest go forever. Let them go forever, damn it, so that no one will ever see them again, including relatives.” 

CNN cannot vouch for the authenticity of the recording and has reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment. 

Evacuations from Azovstal plant not possible Thursday as there is no stable ceasefire: There is no possibility to evacuate civilians from the Azovstal plant on Thursday as there isn’t a stable ceasefire that will provide for safe evacuation, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said Thursday during an online briefing. The mayor appealed to international partners to facilitate a ceasefire and a corridor for evacuation. In addition, he noted that around 200 people are currently awaiting evacuation buses in Mariupol, but the buses have not arrived yet. Four evacuation buses with 80 civilians onboard left Mariupol on Wednesday and are currently heading to Zaporizhzhia, the mayor said. He also said that on Wednesday, during an attempt to evacuate civilian population, Russian troops began shelling. 

More than 7.7 million people internally displaced in Ukraine, according to report: More than 7.7 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine after being forced to flee their homes due to Russia’s invasion, according to the latest International Organization for Migration report. According to the third Ukraine Internal Displacement Report, published Thursday, the number of internally displaced people in Ukraine has risen to at least 17.5% – or more than one in six – of Ukraine’s pre-war population. The latest survey, conducted between April 11 and April 17, found that at least 60% of those internally displaced are women. More than half of IDPs reported a lack of some food products. According to IOM, 28% of families with children under the age of five said they had faced difficulties in getting enough food for their children.

Another Russia-Ukraine prisoner exchange takes place, Ukrainian deputy prime minister says: Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Thursday that another exchange of prisoners had taken place between Ukraine and Russia. 

“Today we are returning home 19 people, including 10 military (including 2 officers) and nine civilians,” she said. “This time there are wounded among the released, and this is very important. After this they will be able to receive full treatment and undergo rehabilitation.”

Russia closes consulates of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania: Russia is closing the consulates of three ex-Soviet Baltic nations, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.