April 14, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Amy Woodyatt, Hannah Strange, Kathleen Magramo, Brad Lendon, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 10:17 p.m. ET, April 14, 2023
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5:39 a.m. ET, April 14, 2023

Russian ambassador to US suggests reduction of American journalists in Russia

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the United States, departs after a meeting at the US State Department on March 14.
Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the United States, departs after a meeting at the US State Department on March 14. (Patrick Semansky/AP/FILE)

The Russian ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, has signaled a possible reduction in the number of American journalists working in Russia.

Talking about US-Russia relations on state TV Thursday, Antonov said Russia feels the growing pressure on its embassy and bilateral relations overall after its arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

Antonov said he had a “very harsh” conversation with US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, during which the State Department accused Moscow of unlawfully detaining Gershkovich.

“The Americans threatened us with retaliatory measures if we did not release Gershkovich in the near future. Let's see how they will act,” Antonov said in an interview with Russia’s Channel One. He added that this meeting had “no practical outcome.”

Antonov also noted that Russian journalists have faced unfavorable treatment in the US and pointed out that the number of American reporters working in Russia far exceeds the number of Russian reporters working in the US.

“Maybe it’s time for us to show reciprocity and reduce the number of American journalists who work in Moscow, Russia as a whole, to the number that works in Washington and New York?” he asked.

Some background: Gershkovich was last month detained by Russian authorities who accused him of spying, ratcheting up tensions between Russia and the US.

Gershkovich’s arrest marks the first time an American journalist has been detained on accusations by Moscow of spying since the Cold War, and the US State Department on Monday officially designated the Wall Street Journal reporter as wrongfully detained by Russia.

3:48 a.m. ET, April 14, 2023

German foreign minister urges China to exert influence on Russia to end Ukraine war

From CNN’s Wayne Chang in Taipei, Taiwan   

Annalena Baerbock attends a joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on April 14.
Annalena Baerbock attends a joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on April 14. (Suo Takekuma/AFP/Getty Images)

During a joint press conference in Beijing, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told her Chinese counterpart Qin Gang that China should exert influence on Russia to end the war in Ukraine, and said that unilateral change of the status quo over the Taiwan Strait by means of force is unacceptable. 

Baerbock said Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, clearly indicates that no country has bigger influence over Russia than China.    

“In the same fashion as how China mediated between Iran and Saudi Arabia, we want China to use that influence to urge Russia to end its war in Ukraine,” Baerbock stated. 

Baerbock is on her maiden visit to China from Thursday to Saturday. 

On Taiwan: Baerbock also stated that destabilization of the Taiwan Strait would have terrible consequences for the global economy, and that Germany is concerned about the rising tensions over the Taiwan Strait.   

“Military conflicts over the Taiwan Strait would be a horrible scenario and one that is unacceptable to Europe.  We call on all parties to not escalate tensions in the region, and we will do everything we can to maintain peace and stability in the region,” Baerbock said.   
“We will continue to uphold the one China policy, but differences must be resolved through peaceful means.  Europe will not accept unilateral change of status quo through the use of force,” Baerbock added.   

In response, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang reiterated Beijing’s position of promoting peace talks and not providing lethal and dual-use weapons to all relevant parties in the Ukraine war. 

Qin said, “Taiwan independence and peace cannot coexist together,” and added that “if a country says it respects the one China principle, it should resolutely oppose Taiwan independence.”    

Qin also called for cooperation and not competition between China and Germany. 

Some context: Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, there's worry that China may one day treat Taiwan in the same way. China’s ruling Communist Party has never controlled Taiwan but claims the self-ruled island democracy as its own and has repeatedly refused to rule out taking it by force. Since the war in Ukraine, the European Union has taken a harsh stance against Russia and its close ally, China, as their military and trade relations run deep.

8:26 a.m. ET, April 14, 2023

EU foreign policy chief: Maintaining trust with China hinges on Beijing's help to end Russian invasion

From CNN's Hannah Ritchie

Josep Borrell speaks to members of the media in Brussels, Belgium on April 4.
Josep Borrell speaks to members of the media in Brussels, Belgium on April 4. (Olivier Matthys/Reuters)

It will be “extremely difficult” for the European Union (EU) to “maintain a relationship of trust with China” if Beijing does not help search for a political solution to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said Friday. 

“I would like to say this in all friendship: it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the European Union to maintain a relationship of trust with China… if China does not contribute to the search for a political solution based on Russia's withdrawal from the Ukrainian territory,” Borrell said in published remarks he was due to deliver during a visit to Beijing which was canceled after he tested positive for Covid-19. 

The EU's top diplomat had to postpone a trip to China this week after he tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a tweet he posted.

“Neutrality in the face of the violation of international law is not credible. We do not ask anyone to align with our own position. We simply ask to admit and recognize that in this case there was a serious violation of international law,” the statement added. 

Borrell also called on Chinese President Xi Jinping to speak to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and “provide more substantial humanitarian aid to the battered Ukrainian people.” 

EU-China relationship: Borrell said relations between the EU and China “have deteriorated in recent years due to a growing number of irritants,” in particular China’s position on the war in Ukraine and EU sanctions against Chinese officials over the reported mass detention and persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. 

“At the same time, we have remained committed to engagement and cooperation and recognize China's crucial role in solving global and regional problems. We do not fear China's rise. However, we know that the history of tomorrow's world will also depend on how China uses its power,” Borrell wrote. 

The ongoing trade “imbalance” between the EU and China was also addressed at length. The statement said the bloc's total amount of our trade reached nearly 850 billion euros ($941 billion) in 2022, but Borrell noted that these exchanges were "increasingly unbalanced" at a disadvantage to the EU.

"Our trade deficit has reached a record of 400 billion euros ($443 billion), or 2.3% of our GDP… If imbalances are not corrected, we have to react,” the statement said. 

12:54 a.m. ET, April 14, 2023

As documents leak takes center stage, here are some Ukraine headlines you may have missed today

From CNN staff

Thursday saw the arrest of a 21-year-old man in the high-profile case surrounding leaked US intelligence documents, including ones containing classified information on the war in Ukraine.

Here are some of the other major storylines out of Ukraine you need to know:

  • Shelling in southern Ukraine: Russian shelling in the southern Kherson region killed at least two civilians Thursday, a regional official said, including a 45-year-old man who died in the city of Kherson and another civilian in the village of Zmiivka.
  • Wartime holiday: The deadly shelling in Kherson comes as officials across the country prepare for Orthodox Easter this Sunday. Churches in some regions will remain closed at night for fear of Russian strikes, and officials will ban the public from certain cemeteries over concerns about unexploded mines.
  • Agriculture woes: Up to a third of Ukraine’s territory may still contain explosive devices, according to the country’s emergency service. That’s just one of several factors making this a challenging season for the country’s farmers. This season’s grain exports will be critical for both Ukraine’s domestic needs and the global hunger crisis.
  • Biden in Ireland: US President Joe Biden touted Western support for the defense of Ukraine during a speech to Ireland’s Parliament Thursday, prompting an ovation from the assembled lawmakers. He particularly praised Irish leadership on United Nations sanctions, ensuring the penalties wouldn’t interfere with humanitarian efforts.
  • Detained journalist: Russia’s Foreign Ministry will only discuss a potential exchange for jailed American journalist Evan Gershkovich after his trial, according to Russian state news agency TASS. Russia accused him of spying, while the US has declared Gershkovich wrongly detained.
  • Battle for Bakhmut: The fight grinds on for the eastern city of Bakhmut, which has seen the conflict’s most brutal fighting for weeks. Russian and Wagner mercenary forces are trying to inch closer to the city center. Both sides claim the other has suffered huge losses.
1:05 a.m. ET, April 14, 2023

Ukraine is having a harder time sowing crops this season than in 2022, official says

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Mohammed Tawfeeq

HALO Trust deminers clear a farmers' land from explosives near the village of Yevgenivka, in the Mykolaiv region in Ukraine on April 9.
HALO Trust deminers clear a farmers' land from explosives near the village of Yevgenivka, in the Mykolaiv region in Ukraine on April 9. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian farmers trying to sow crops this season have faced “more difficult conditions than in 2022,” according to a policy official.

Denys Marchuk, deputy chairman of the Ukrainian Agrarian Council Public Union, laid out the numerous challenges facing the country’s crop sowing campaign — which launched late last month — in a news conference in Kyiv on Thursday.

Short on money: Marchuk highlighted a lack of funding as a key reason why farmers are struggling to produce. Farmers have run out of supplies like mineral fertilizers, plant protection products and seed, and did not receive additional funding for 2023.

Russia left large areas unusable: Some 7 million hectares (more than 27,000 square miles) of farmland in Ukraine can’t be used during the sowing campaign, according to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy.

Apart from Russian-occupied territories, which are temporarily off the table, there are still mines that have not been removed across a lot of liberated land in Ukraine.

As CNN has previously reported, the country’s farmers face a stark choice: clear the fields of explosives to prepare for planting season or contemplate another year without income.

Making the most of available land: Despite all the challenges, Ukraine plans to sow crops on more than 19 million hectares of land (more than 73,000 square miles), according to the agrarian ministry.

“This will actually give fairly good harvest rates, given the wartime conditions. In terms of harvest figures, we should be able to fully ensure food security within the country and be able to export,” Marchuk said Thursday. 

Why a successful season is so important: Ukraine is regarded as a key breadbasket for much of the world, and the country relies on agriculture to generate more than 40% of total export revenues.

The country’s economy shrank by more than 30% in 2022 after Russia’s invasion destroyed infrastructure, hurt businesses and disrupted daily life, Kyiv’s Economic Ministry said in March.

The deputy chairman said farmers sold the grain group “mostly either at a loss or at their cost price,” saying this was a reason for the lack of free funds that could be used during this sowing campaign.

“Overall, the costs of the sowing campaign this season will increase by about 19%. In total, about UAH 230 billion ($6 billion) will be spent on the sowing campaign,” Marchuk said.
12:57 a.m. ET, April 14, 2023

European Union targets Russia's Wagner Group in latest round of sanctions

From CNN’s Zahid Mahmood

The European Union added Russia’s Wagner private military group and Russian news agency RIA FAN to a list of organizations it is sanctioning, a statement from the European Council said Thursday.

The EU sanctioned the two organizations for “undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” the statement read. 

“Russia must stop its aggression and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces and proxies from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders,” the statement read.
“The EU stands firmly and fully with Ukraine and will continue to provide strong political, economic, military, financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine and its people for as long as it takes.”

Some background: RIA FAN is part of the Patriot Media Group, a Russian organization whose Board of Trustees is headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, according to the EU.

Prigozhin is also the head of the Wagner Group, which has been previously sanctioned for what the EU describes as serious human rights violations.

The EU has now sanctioned a total of 1,473 individuals and 207 entities in connection with their actions in Ukraine, the statement read. Those designated are subject to an asset freeze, and EU citizens and companies are forbidden from making funds available to them, the statement read.

12:58 a.m. ET, April 14, 2023

War leaves Ukrainians with mined cemeteries and closed churches on Orthodox Easter

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Yulia Kesaieva 

Authorities will bolster security measures across the country as Ukrainians prepare to celebrate another Orthodox Easter while fighting Russia’s war. 

Residents are discouraged from attending church services late at night this weekend, and many cemeteries will remain closed due to the danger of unexploded mines and Russian shelling.

Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Palm Sunday and Easter one week after many Christians in the US and other Western countries observe the holiday.

Ukrainian officials have warned in the past that Russian attacks may increase around specific dates, holidays or events. Oleksiy Biloshytskyi, a national law enforcement official, said police will use special monitoring centers to look out for any signs of attacks.

“We must remember that the enemy is insidious and can take any action even during this (Easter) night,” he said.

In the capital Kyiv, residents will be able to attend late evening church services despite a curfew, but they must arrive at church before the curfew takes effect, the head of the Kyiv City Military Administration, Serhii Popko, said Thursday in a Telegram post.

Popko said churchgoers and clergy should research the nearest shelter to their congregation and be prepared to flee to safety if an air raid alarm sounds.

The curfew hours in Kyiv last from midnight to 5 a.m. local time (10 p.m. ET), as is the case for most of the country.

In the broader Kyiv region, residents will only be able to attend church services when the curfew is not in effect, and only a limited number of people will be allowed on the grounds of churches and cemeteries due to security reasons, the Kyiv region’s military administration said Monday. 

Many churches will broadcast services online, it added.

In northeastern Kharkiv, which is Ukraine’s second-largest city, officials will close a number of cemeteries.

Authorities warned that one of the cemeteries, the Slobozhanskyi memorial complex, has not been fully cleared of explosive mines.

Other city cemeteries will be closed on Easter “to avoid provocations by the enemy and to protect citizens from unpredictable missile attacks,” the city council said.

In the southern city of Kherson, residents won’t be able to visit cemeteries or attend church services during curfew hours, the city council said Tuesday.

It said the ban on cemeteries was due to mine danger.

“The enemy daily launches hostile attacks on the civilian population of the Kherson community. Unfortunately, the possibility of shelling during the holidays cannot be ruled out,” the city council said. 

9:09 a.m. ET, April 14, 2023

Russian prosecutors open probe into video purportedly showing beheading of Ukrainian soldier

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

Russia's Prosecutor General's Office said Thursday it has launched an investigation into a video that purports to show the beheading of a captured Ukrainian solider.

“In the course of monitoring the Internet, the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation has found photographic and video materials containing, presumably, scenes of the murder of an allegedly Ukrainian serviceman,” an official statement reads.

The statement specifies the probe is related to video of "an unknown person in camouflage in the summer season" that "uses violence with a knife against an unknown serviceman, as a result of which he causes his death".

The prosecution has submitted the materials to investigating authorities for probing in order to “assess the authenticity of these materials and make an appropriate decision.”