April 26, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Jessie Yeung, Andrew Raine, Ben Morse and Jack Guy, CNN

Updated 8:21 a.m. ET, April 27, 2022
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12:28 p.m. ET, April 26, 2022

US defense secretary says that Putin "needs to make a decision to end this conflict"

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that for the war in Ukraine to come to an end Russian President Vladimir Putin "needs to make a decision to end this conflict." 

"I think the first step is to end this conflict. And I think that what needs to happen to cause the conflict to come to an end is Mr. Putin He's the person that started it," Austin said.

Austin called Putin's decision to attack Ukraine "unjustified." He added that it will be Putin's decision "to de-escalate and then go back to the negotiating table" 

"And we really all would like to see that happen," Austin said. 

12:29 p.m. ET, April 26, 2022

US defense secretary says allies "don't have any time to waste" in providing help to Ukraine

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein, Germany, on April 26.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein, Germany, on April 26. (Michael Probst/AP)

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin opened his news conference Tuesday by thanking the countries that have stepped up to help Ukraine noting, "We don't have any time to waste."

"The work that we've done together in record time has made a huge difference on the battlefield. President (Volodymyr) Zelensky made that clear when we met Sunday in Kyiv. And countries all around the world have been stepping up to meet Ukraine's urgent needs," Austin said. 

Austin said Germany just announced today that it will send Ukraine 50 anti-aircraft armored vehicles. This announcement came one day after the British government announced that it would provide Ukraine with additional anti-aircraft capabilities as well, Austin said.

"And so that's important We're seeing more every day. And I applaud all the countries that have risen and are rising to meet this demand. The briefings today laid out clearly why the coming weeks will be so crucial for Ukraine," Austin said. "So we've got to move at the And I know that all the leaders leave today more resolved than ever to support Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression and atrocities. And I know that we're all determined to do even more to better coordinate our efforts." 

The allies will meet monthly to discuss the Ukraine war strategy, Austin said.

11:24 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Top US general: Lavrov's comments on nuclear war "completely irresponsible"

From CNN's Michael Conte

US Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said it was “completely irresponsible” for any senior leader of a nuclear power to start “rattling a nuclear saber” when asked about Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov calling the danger of a nuclear war “serious and real.”

“Any time a senior leader of a nation state starts rattling a nuclear saber, then everyone takes it seriously,” said Milley in a live interview with CNN. 

Lavrov said Monday that nuclear deterrence is Russia’s “principled position," but he added “the danger is serious, it is real, it cannot be underestimated.”

Milley said the US military is monitoring the nuclear threat from Russia along with “friends and allies."

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the international community, including the US and Ukraine, are focused on not letting the situation "spin out of control."

Any "possibility of use of nuclear weapons is very dangerous and unhelpful. Nobody wants to see a nuclear war. Nobody can win that," he said.

12:08 p.m. ET, April 26, 2022

The security in Europe since the end of World War II is at stake right now, US general says

CNN
CNN

Top US Gen. Mark Milley told CNN Tuesday that he believes "what's at stake" in this war "is much greater than Ukraine."

"What's at stake is the security, for the security of Europe since the end of World War II. And indeed, you can easily make the case that what's at stake is the global international security order that was put in place in 1945," Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN's Jim Sciutto. "That international order has lasted 78 years. It's prevented great war. And underlining that entire concept is the idea that large nations will not conduct military aggression against smaller nations, and that is exactly what's happened here, by Russia against a smaller nation."

Milley continued by saying that if Russia gets away with its aggression in Ukraine "cost-free," then "so goes the so-called international order."

"If that happens, then we're heading into an era of seriously increased instability," Milley added.

"So right now ... now is the time and right now is the opportunity here to stop aggression and to restore peace and security to the European continent."

Watch:

10:53 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Top US general: We want to see a free Ukraine and a "weakened Russia"

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley told CNN that the policy of governments supporting Ukraine is to see the embattled country free and independent and a "weakened Russia."

"At the end of the day, what we want to see, what I think the policy of all of the governments together is a free and independent Ukraine, with the territory intact and their government standing," he said. "I think that's going to involve a weakened Russia."

He added that the unity among western countries is key.

"The unity of the West and the unity of NATO, and indeed, the unity of the globe has probably never been stronger than it is in the face of this unprovoked aggression. That's where we're heading."

10:40 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022

US diplomats returned to Ukraine today for first time since Russia's invasion, source says

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

US diplomats returned to Ukraine today for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The diplomats crossed into the country from Poland and traveled to the western city of Lviv for a day trip, according to the source. 

The visit comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the US would send diplomats into the country starting this week when he visited the Ukrainian capital over the weekend. 

The department plans to reassess the security situation for the diplomats’ day trips into Lviv constantly, the source said. 

The department is also reexamining the security situation in Ukraine more broadly after Russia bombed five railway stations in central and western Ukraine on Monday, according to the source and another source familiar with the discussions. The attacks that rocked the railway stations just hours after Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin completed their visit to Kyiv.

“The Kremlin's brutal tactics and utter indifference to human life are appalling. This is the latest example of attacks that have killed civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure in the Russian government's brutal war against Ukraine,” said a State Department spokesperson when asked about the recent bombings and the plan to send US diplomats back into the country. 

“As the secretary said, US diplomats will return to Ukraine this week. We are constantly reassessing and evaluating the security situation with a view toward resuming Embassy Kyiv operations as soon possible to facilitate our support to the government and people of Ukraine as they bravely defend their country,” the spokesperson added. 

While US diplomats going into Lviv for day trips to not travel on trains, the sources said, the trains are a critical piece of the Ukrainian fight because they are one way that new military equipment is getting into Ukraine. Russia warned the US against arming Ukraine earlier this month in a diplomatic cable.

Wladimir Klitschko, a member of the key military defense in Ukraine and a former world boxing champion whose brother is the mayor of Kyiv, told CNN’s New Day it is not safe for anyone to be in Ukraine right now, including diplomats.

“If you're on Ukrainian soil, it is not safe for anybody. Eventually, and we'll look forward to have diplomats back in their embassies," Klitschko said Tuesday. 

 

10:16 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Ukraine begins demolishing Russian friendship monument in Kyiv

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Julia Kesaieva in Kyiv

People walk in a city park around a Soviet-era monument to Ukraine and Russia's friendship in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 23, 2020.
People walk in a city park around a Soviet-era monument to Ukraine and Russia's friendship in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 23, 2020. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Work has begun in Kyiv on dismantling a monument to "Russian-Ukrainian friendship."

The large monument close to the Dnieper River was erected in 1982 to commemorate the reunification of Ukraine and Russia.

Vilati Klitschko, mayor of Kyiv, said: "The dismantling has started today and we plan to finish it tonight. We are removing the bronze sculpture of two workers, installed in the center of the Ukrainian capital in 1982."

Russia now demonstrated "a barbaric desire to destroy our state and peaceful Ukrainians," Klitschko said.

9:16 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Bridge over estuary near Odesa hit in missile attack

From Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova

A road and railway bridge across the mouth of the river Dniester in southwest Ukraine has been heavily damaged in an explosion.

The bridge, which is near the city of Odesa, appears to have been damaged by a missile strike.

"Circumstances and information about the victims are being clarified," authorities said.

Images from the scene show extensive damage to the road portion of the bridge. 

9:13 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Japan will provide food and medicine to Ukraine, Kishida tells Zelensky in a phone call

From CNN’s Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on April 26.
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on April 26. (David Mareuil/Reuters)

Japan will provide additional relief supplies such as food and medicine to Ukraine, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said following a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday. 

Japan will also increase its diplomatic efforts to support Ukraine together with other G7 nations, Kishida said, adding that Zelensky thanked Japan for its support.

The two discussed the situation in Ukraine, further sanctions against Russia and assistance toward Ukraine.

This is the fourth time the two leaders have spoken by phone this year, said Kishida.