April 25, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Brad Lendon, Adrienne Vogt, Caolán Magee, Leinz Vales and Christina Zdanowicz, CNN

Updated 11:20 p.m. ET, April 25, 2023
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11:57 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Ukrainian military says Russia is concentrating its forces on Bakhmut assault

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva

Ukrainian soldiers of the 80th brigade fire artillery in the direction of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on April 24.
Ukrainian soldiers of the 80th brigade fire artillery in the direction of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on April 24. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Ukrainian military said Moscow is concentrating its forces on the assault in the battered eastern city of Bakhmut — and consequently reducing offensive operations in some other areas.

Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesman for the eastern grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said on Ukrainian television that the situation in Bakhmut "changes from time to time, and there is a positional war going on."

"The enemy is concentrating all its forces on Bakhmut, and in fact is not conducting such powerful combat operations anywhere else in our operational area of responsibility," Cherevatyi said.

In Bakhmut over the past day, he said, the Russians "attacked our positions 23 times, fired 280 times with various types of artillery, and carried out four air raids. There were 85 attacks and 20 firefights in the Bakhmut area alone. One-hundred-and-seventy-five occupiers were killed in action, 213 were wounded."

Cherevatyi’s figures cannot be independently verified.

He said that Wagner fighters were no longer carrying out independent missions in Bakhmut.

"Both airborne units of the occupying army and special forces are increasingly being used. Therefore, we realize that the enemy's losses are very significant," he said.

Cherevatyi said that Ukrainian artillery was constantly engaged in protecting supply routes into Bakhmut, while engineers were doing all they could "to ensure that there are several routes of communication." 

Unofficial pro-Russian Telegram channels claim that the Ukrainians are continuing to retreat from parts of Bakhmut and have destroyed the communications tower on the western side of Bakhmut.

CNN is unable to verify the claims.

 

10:23 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Russian-backed official says Ukraine fired 6 HIMARS at strategic southern town

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

A total of six Ukrainian High Mobility Artillery Rocket System rockets were fired at the southern town of Tokmak on Tuesday, according to a senior Russian-appointed official in the occupied part of Zaporizhzhia.

Vladimir Rogov, a member of the military-civilian administration, said that four of the rockets were shot down by Russian air defenses, and two landed in the north of the city.

"According to preliminary reports, one civilian was killed and four others received injuries of varying degrees of severity," he said on Telegram.

Why the town is important: Tokmak, which is about 70 kilometers (43 miles) northeast of Melitopol, has become a hub for Russian forces in Zaporizhzhia. It's where a counteroffensive from Ukraine is largely expected — due to its strategic location between Crimea, the Russian-occupied territory in eastern Ukraine and the Russian mainland.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said last week that a counteroffensive would not be announced.

Elsewhere in the region, Russia has also been trying to hit what it thinks are Ukrainian targets. The town of Orikhiv, about 40 miles southeast of Zaporizhzhia, has seen the repeated bombardment of anything that might resemble a military hub: a sports school, a farming warehouse, and empty buildings.

9:39 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Children from Russian-occupied Vasylivka sent to Belarus camp

From CNN's Olga Voitovych, Nick Paton Walsh and Vasco Cotovio

Children from the Russian-occupied Ukrainian district of Vasylivka have been sent to a so-called “recreation camp” in Belarus, according to the Russian-installed civil-military administration.

The Ukrainian government estimates nearly 20,000 children have been illegally deported to Russia, Belarus or forcibly relocated to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. Officials also claim 470 children have died, while 949 children have been wounded and 406 are currently missing.

The Russian-installed Vasylivka civil-military administration said, “the recreation program for children, of course, is free and is supported personally by Lukashenko and Putin."

 “The first batch of 43 children from 8 to 15 years old will stay at the children's health camp from April 24 till May 10, and the next visit is planned from May 14,” they said.

A report released in February detailed allegations of an expansive network of dozens of camps where kids underwent "political reeducation," including Russia-centric academic, cultural and, in some cases, military education.

Remember: Allegations of forced deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia form the basis of war crimes charges brought against Putin and a senior official, Maria Lvova-Belova, by the International Criminal Court last month.

CNN has reached out to the office of Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, on this incident, but has yet to hear back.

Ukrainian officials have previously referred to such camps as part of Moscow’s efforts to forcibly deport children from Ukraine.

8:36 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

At least 2 killed and 10 injured by Russian strike on Kupyansk

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Vasco Cotovio

Rescuers remove a body from the site of a Russian missile attack in Kupyansk, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on April 25.
Rescuers remove a body from the site of a Russian missile attack in Kupyansk, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on April 25. (Viktoriia Yakymenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian authorities have discovered another body while clearing the rubble of a museum in the town of Kupyansk struck by a Russian missile on Tuesday, increasing the death toll to two. 

“In total, the bodies of two dead women were pulled from the rubble of the destroyed building,” Ukrainian State Emergency Services said. “Also, 10 people were injured, 4 of them were hospitalized.”

“Search operations and rubble removal have been completed,” it added.

Russian forces allegedly used an S-300 surface to surface missile to target Kupyansk, according to the Ukrainian President’s Chief of Staff, Andrii Yermak.

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of doing “everything to destroy [Ukraine] completely,” as he commented on a Russian missile strike in Kupyansk.

“We have no right to forget about it for a single second,” Zelensky said. “We must bring [Russia] to justice both on the battlefield and with fair court sentences to the terrorists.”

8:05 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Wagner leader denies relationship with defense ministry has improved

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Anna Chernova

Yevgeny Prigozhin attends a funeral ceremony at the Troyekurovskoye cemetery in Moscow, Russia, on April 8.
Yevgeny Prigozhin attends a funeral ceremony at the Troyekurovskoye cemetery in Moscow, Russia, on April 8. (AP)

The boss of Russian private military company (PMC) Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has seemingly denied that his relationship with the Russian defense ministry has improved.

It comes after the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington-based think tank, suggested in a report that the relationship between the two parties had been “repaired,” with the view of getting Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt offensive operations in Ukraine.

“ISW has observed a sudden improvement in Prigozhin’s relations with the Russian MoD (Ministry of Defense) and the Kremlin since early April,” ISW said in its report on April 22.

“The Russian MoD, for example, began to directly acknowledge Wagner forces in its daily situational reports and provided Wagner with ammunition and mobilized personnel as reinforcements in early April 2023.”

But when asked about the report, Prigozhin called it “fake news.”

“There is a lot of fake news planted, and this is one of them,” he said in his official Telegram channel. I am not going to exchange ammunition for my guys even for friendship with the Lord God.”

Some background: Prigozhin has not shied away from publicly commenting on his differences with Russia's leadership. Prigozhin has been highly visible on the front lines in recent months and is quick to claim credit for Russian advances.

A Ukrainian military intelligence report obtained by CNN detailed the remorseless tactics used by Wagner. The report, dated December 2022, concluded that “the deaths of thousands of Wagner soldiers do not matter to Russian society.”

In January, a former Wagner mercenary said the brutality he witnessed in Ukraine ultimately pushed him to defect, in an exclusive CNN interview.

8:37 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

The prospects for extending the Black Sea grain deal, which is set to expire on May 18, are not favorable, the Kremlin says, claiming its concerns have yet to be addressed. Russia has signaled that it will not support a new deal unless obstacles to the export of its own food stuffs, as well as fertilizers, are removed.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's military has claimed it is achieving “impressive results” against Russian forces on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson. Natalia Humeniuk, spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Southern Command, said Russian evacuations from the banks of the Dnipro are facilitating Ukrainian operations.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Russia at the UN: Moscow said it intends to voice Russia’s position at the second day of the United Nations Security Council, where it is the current presiding member, despite “difficulties” it faces. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met criticism from Western diplomats over Russia’s war in Ukraine on Monday.
  • Grain deal: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Tuesday that the prospects for extending the Black Sea grain deal are not favorable, as Moscow’s concerns over obstacles to its own exports have yet to be addressed. Peskov rejected the suggestion that Moscow is to blame for the current global food crisis.
  • Kupyansk attack: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of doing “everything to destroy [Ukraine] completely,” following a Russian missile strike in Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region, which left one person dead and 10 injured. Russian forces allegedly used an S-300 surface to surface missile to target Kupyansk.
  • Kherson advance: Ukraine's military has claimed it is achieving “impressive results” against Russian forces on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson, with a spokeswoman saying they have hit and destroyed “artillery pieces, tanks, vehicles, armored vehicles, and enemy air defense systems.”
  • Military funding from Europe: The European Commission is providing an additional 1.5 billion euros ($1.65 billion) in funding to Ukraine, President Ursula von der Leyen said Tuesday. It came soon after the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, called for an increased flow of weapons to Ukraine.
  • Explosions in Tokmak: Ukrainian forces have struck the front line town of Tokmak in southern Ukraine, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) north-east of Melitopol, officials for both Ukraine and Russia have confirmed.

7:15 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

"Crucial" for Russian delegation to voice Moscow’s position at UN Security Council, Kremlin says 

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

Russian Foreign Minister and Security Council Acting President for the month of April Sergey Lavrov, center, speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters on April 24, in New York City.
Russian Foreign Minister and Security Council Acting President for the month of April Sergey Lavrov, center, speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters on April 24, in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Moscow has said it intends to voice Russia’s position at the second day of the United Nations Security Council, where it is the current presiding member, despite “difficulties” it faces. 

In a briefing with journalists on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov acknowledged the challenges faced by the Russian delegation at the UN in New York, but said they will continue their effort.

“This work is not easy,” Peskov said, commenting on the results of the first day of the Security Council. But it is “crucial” for Russia to be heard as it “chairs the UN Security Council, performs its functions, sets out its position,” he added. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who chaired a meeting on international peace and security at the UN Security Council on Monday, met criticism from Western diplomats over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Some background: Russian diplomats have been largely cut off from various international conferences since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

However, the leadership of the Security Council, UN’s most powerful body, rotates alphabetically among its 15 member nations. Five countries – China, France, Russia, the UK and the US – have permanent seats on the council. The remaining 10 members are elected for two-year terms by the UN General Assembly.

Russia assumed the presidency on April 1, an event that multiple diplomats described as an “April Fool’s joke.”

The last time Russia presided over the Security Council was February 2022, when it launched its invasion of Ukraine.

7:00 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Zelensky accuses Russia of "doing everything to destroy" Ukraine following strike on Kupyansk

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio

Rescuers and volunteers work at the site of a building of local museum heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, in the town of Kupyansk, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on April 25.
Rescuers and volunteers work at the site of a building of local museum heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, in the town of Kupyansk, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on April 25. (Viktoriia Yakymenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of doing “everything to destroy [Ukraine] completely,” following a Russian missile strike in Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region, which left one person dead and 10 injured.

"So far, it is known about the dead employee of the museum and ten wounded. There are still people under the rubble,” Zelensky tweeted Tuesday.

The terrorist country is doing everything to destroy [Ukraine] completely," he added.

“We have no right to forget about it for a single second,” Zelensky said. “We must bring [Russia] to justice both on the battlefield and with fair court sentences to the terrorists.”

Russian forces allegedly used an S-300 surface to surface missile to target Kupyansk, according to the Ukrainian President’s Chief of Staff, Andrii Yermak.

Earlier Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, said on Telegram that it was the Local History Museum that was hit.

6:54 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Prospects of extending Black Sea grain deal not favorable, says Kremlin

From CNN's Anna Chernova

The prospects for extending the Black Sea grain deal are not favorable, the Kremlin says, claiming its concerns have yet to be addressed.

“The conditions that concerned us have not yet been implemented,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Tuesday. “Therefore, the circumstances do not add up in favor of [extending] this deal for now.”

Russia has signaled that it will not support a new deal unless obstacles to the export of its own food stuffs, as well as fertilizers, are removed.

Peskov rejected the suggestion that Moscow is to blame for the current global food crisis.

“The loss of Ukrainian grain and Russian grain may be one of the factors, but not the decisive one,” he said.

Ukraine normally supplies about 45 million metric tons of grain to the global market every year and is the world’s top exporter of sunflower oil. Together with Russia, it accounted for about one-quarter of global wheat exports in 2019.

The current grain deal, which permits the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the countries' Black Sea ports, was renewed for 60 days in March and is set to expire on May 18.

Key background: A Black Sea grain deal has enabled the passage of Ukrainian ships carrying the agriculture products to depart the country, which was a challenge in the early days of the war with Russia preventing the ships from leaving.

Turkey, alongside the United Nations, helped broker the deal in July. The agreement established a procedure that guaranteed the safety of ships carrying Ukrainian grain, fertilizer and other foodstuffs through a humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea.

Under the deal, all vessels coming to and from Ukraine’s ports were inspected and monitored by international teams made up of officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN.