Ukrainian officials say eastern regions under heavy attack Tuesday
From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych
Ukrainian officials say that heavy fighting has continued Tuesday in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Donetsk regional military administration, said Russian forces had launched missile attacks against the city of Avdiivka, close to the frontlines. "The Central City Hospital, a school, and high-rise buildings were affected," he said.
Kyrylenko said another Russian attempt to attack the nearby town of Mariinka had been repelled. The Russians had also left the town of Krasnohorivka without electricity after damaging a transformer.
"Today the shelling continues almost along the entire front line. At least two civilians are currently known to have died," Kyrylenko said.
In neighboring Luhansk, three civilians died in the town of Popasna when a building collapsed amid heavy shelling, according to Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk region military administration.
"The situation in Popasna is extremely difficult. Street fights in the city continue. The enemy remotely fires heavy weapons. Aviation is constantly bombing the residential area," Hayday said.
Popasna has been on the frontlines for weeks and has sustained extensive damage.
Hayday said 95 residents of the Luhansk region had already been evacuated Tuesday, about half of them from Lysychansk, a town that has been heavily damaged in weeks of shelling.
8:02 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022
Norway to allocate $44 million to British-led effort to buy arms for Ukraine
From CNN’s James Frater and Benjamin Brown
Norway will allocate 400 million Norwegian Krone ($44 million) to a British-led initiative to purchase weapons and military equipment for Ukraine, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said Tuesday.
Speaking to the Norwegian parliament, Støre said the move made it possible to support Ukraine with arms that Norway’s military did not have or could not give up.
Donating arms to a party to war was a "new experience" for Norway, the prime minister added.
Some background: Norwegian Minister of Defense Bjørn Arild Gram last week announced that Norway had donated a Mistral air defense system to Ukraine.
Norway had previously donated a total of 4,000 anti-tank missiles and several types of protective equipment as well as other military equipment, according to the Ministry of Defense.
8:34 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022
Lavrov accuses NATO of engaging in proxy war, warns of armed conflict spreading beyond Ukraine
From CNN's Jack Guy
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned that there is a "considerable" risk of armed conflict spreading beyond Ukraine, and accused NATO of engaging in a proxy war.
Lavrov was asked on Russian state television on Monday about the prospects of world war three, and his response marks a significant escalation in rhetoric, reports Reuters.
"The risks now are considerable," Lavrov said, according to the ministry's transcript of the interview, reports Reuters.
"The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it," Lavrov said. "NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war."
The US is hosting Ukraine-focused defense talks at its Ramstein air base in Germany, where German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht announced that Berlin will deliver Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine.
And on Monday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin explicitly said that the US wants to see Russia's military capabilities weakened.
"We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can't do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine," Austin said at a news conference after traveling to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"So it has already lost a lot of military capability. And a lot of its troops, quite frankly," added Austin. "And we want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability."
7:30 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022
UN is investigating 300 unlawful killings in Ukraine, head of monitoring mission tells CNN
From CNN’s Isa Soares and Amy Cassidy
The UN is investigating 300 unlawful killings in Ukraine, the head of its monitoring mission in the country Matilda Bogner told CNN Tuesday.
Speaking on CNN Newsroom, Bogner relayed the scale of civilian atrocities the mission has documented throughout the war so far, including cases of sexual violence and arbitrary detentions.
So far the mission has documented up to 5,000 civilian casualties, Bogner said, noting the actual number will be "thousands" higher. Currently the UN is investigating 150 cases of enforced disappearances.
"Again, the number of cases are higher than that, these are just the cases that we have sufficient information about to already look into," she said.
"We are hearing in some of the areas occupied by the Russian Federation, that they are targeting people who have pro Ukrainian views. For example, local officials, activists, human rights defenders, sometimes journalists who they consider have pro Ukrainian views are being detained. They often disappear. Some have been released, which is good, but others have since been found dead.
"We are also trying to document cases of sexual violence. Unfortunately it's very difficult to get full information. Victims usually are not willing to speak in areas that are unsafe, when they haven't had services provided to them.
"So it is very important that these services are provided, that people are able to have access, and move to safer areas. And it's only when that happens that we will start to get the full picture of what's really going on in the country."
7:21 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022
"No one wants to see a third world war break out," says China's foreign ministry
From CNN's Beijing Bureau
China's foreign ministry said Tuesday that "no one wants to see a third world war break out," following Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's comments that the risk of nuclear war was a real danger.
In an interview aired on Russian television on Monday, Lavrov was asked about the risks of a third world war in comparison to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Lavrov said nuclear deterrence is Russia’s "principled position," but the danger is "serious and cannot be underestimated."
"I wouldn’t want these risks to be artificially inflated now," Lavrov said, "but the danger is serious, it is real, it cannot be underestimated."
"No one wants to see a third world war break out," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters in a briefing Tuesday.
Wang reiterated China's hope for parties to "keep calm and exercise restraint," and to "realize peace as soon as possible and avoid inflicting a heavier price on Europe and the world."
"We should reflect on how the vortex of geopolitical conflicts has risen again in Europe, more than 30 years after the end of the Cold War," Wang said.
8:34 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022
Ukraine situation is a "catalyst" for "great number of problems," Russia's foreign minister tells UN secretary-general
From CNN's Radina Gigova
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday the situation around Ukraine "has become a catalyst" for "a great number of problems," and therefore Russia responded "expeditiously" to the request by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for talks.
"We definitely appreciate your desire to have another round of talks at this hard time," Lavrov told Guterres at the beginning of a meeting in Moscow aimed to discuss the situation in Ukraine and its global impact.
Lavrov said the meeting between Guterres and Russian President Vladimir Putin later Tuesday "emphasizes the significance that we attach to our contacts with the United Nations."
Guterres told Lavrov, "we are extremely interested" in finding ways to create conditions for effective dialogue, for a ceasefire "as soon as possible" and "conditions for a peaceful solution."
"I know today we are facing a complex situation in Ukraine, different interpretations about what is happening in Ukraine, but that does not limit the possibility to have a very serious dialogue on how best we can work to minimize the suffering of people," Guterres said.
"These are also very deep interests that I have in the present moment -- to do everything possible to end the war as soon as possible, and to do everything possible to minimize the suffering of the people and to address the impacts of the vulnerable populations" in other parts of the world as well that have been impacted by the war.
"It is very important to support all countries around the world in relation to food, in relation to energy, in relation to finance," Guterres said.
7:05 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022
It's 2 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.
Diplomatic efforts continue, with Germany agreeing to send anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, and a third mass grave has been found near Mariupol.
Here are the latest developments:
US Defense Secretary slams Russia: Moscow's invasion and atrocities in Ukraine are "indefensible" as Russia has bombed hospitals and left children "traumatized," US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Tuesday. He was speaking from Ramstein US Air Base in Germany, where the US is hosting Ukraine-focused defense talks.
Germany to ship arms to Ukraine: Germany will deliver Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, the German Ministry of Defence announced on Tuesday. The move was announced by German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht at Ramstein US Airforce base, the ministry tweeted.
Explosions in Transnistria: Two radio towers in Moldova's unrecognized breakaway territory of Transnistria were damaged by explosions in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Transnistrian Ministry of Internal Affairs said in a statement.
More refugees to flee: A projected 8.3 million refugees are expected to flee Ukraine, according to the latest assessment by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Around 5.2 million refugees had left Ukraine as of Monday, the latest UNHCR data shows.
Third mass grave found near Mariupol: A third mass grave has been found near Mariupol, said Vadym Boichenko, the mayor of the besieged southeastern city. New satellite imagery has shown a mass grave at the village of Staryi Krym, according to the Telegram channel of the city authorities.
UN diplomacy: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is arriving in Moscow on Tuesday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian foreign minister. He will then travel to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian foreign minister on Thursday.
"Sham referendum": Russia announced it will stage a referendum in the broader occupied Kherson region on Wednesday, asking people to approve the "independence" of a new entity called "the Kherson People’s Republic." Zelensky has called it a "sham referendum," saying civilians have already shown "their attitude toward the occupiers" by protesting in occupied towns.
Curfew in the capital: Kyiv will be placed under a nighttime curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time, Monday through Friday, this week to protect civilians from Russia's "provocative actions," said the head of the city's Regional Military Administration. Those working in critical infrastructure or who have a special permit are exempt.
6:28 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022
Mariupol mayor says three mass graves around city, claims locals forced to work at sites
From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych
A third mass grave has been found near Mariupol, the mayor of the besieged southeastern city told Ukrainian television Tuesday.
In addition to mass graves uncovered in the villages of Mangush and Vynohradne, "now we see there is another one," said Vadym Boichenko.
New satellite imagery has shown a mass grave at the village of Staryi Krym, according to the Telegram channel of the city authorities.
The images showed excavated trenches on the territory of the Old Crimean cemetery, the city council said on Telegram.
They appeared on March 24, after the village was occupied by the Russians, and were about 60 to 70 meters long, the council said.
By April 7, according to new imagery, part of the trenches had been covered, the council said, and the burial area had grown.
"New trenches were recorded on April 24. The length of the mass grave has increased to more than 200 meters," it said.
Boichenko accused Russian forces of involving the local population in mass burials in exchange for food.
"They [the locals] told us that you have to work 'hours' to have food and water. Now there is not enough humanitarian aid in Mariupol so people are forced to do it," he said on Telegram.
CNN is unable to confirm the city's account of the mass graves. The images, from Planet Labs, were first reported by Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL) on Monday.
CNN has reviewed satellite imagery purportedly showing mass graves at Vynohradne, but it is unclear beyond the disturbance of the ground what may have transpired there.
Last week, Ukrainian officials identified the location of mass graves at Manhush near Mariupol after the publication of satellite images collected by and analyzed by Maxar Technologies.
Petro Andriushchenko, an advisor to the mayor Mariupol, posted about the mass grave at Manhush on Telegram on Thursday.
"As a result of a long search and identification of places of mass burial of dead Mariupol residents, we established the fact of arrangement and mass burial of the dead Mariupol residents in the village of Manhush," he wrote.
Andriushchenko -- who is not in Mariupol but has served as a clearinghouse for information from inside the besieged city -- said Russian forces had dug several mass graves, each measuring about 30 meters (around 100 feet), in Manhush, a town around 12 miles (20 kilometers) to the west of Mariupol.
On Tuesday Boichenko repeated that some 20,000 residents of Mariupol had died since the beginning of the invasion.
"The situation in Mariupol remains extremely difficult," he said. "Enemy artillery shells our fortress Azovstal," the steel plant where Ukrainian troops and civilians are holed up.
"There are women and children inside. Ceasefire is needed to begin the evacuation. Unfortunately, there is no ceasefire," Boichenko said. "People are running out of food, there is almost no drinking water. This is a humanitarian catastrophe."
6:08 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022
UN expects 8.3 million refugees to flee Ukraine
From CNN's Benjamin Brown in London
A projected 8.3 million refugees are expected to flee Ukraine, according to the latest assessment by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Around 5.2 million refugees had left Ukraine as of Monday, the latest UNHCR data shows.
The UNHCR and partner organizations are seeking $1.85 billion to support Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries, UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said Tuesday.
Speaking in Geneva at the launch of an updated regional refugee response plan to support Ukrainian refugees, Mantoo said the plan "aims to ensure timely and life-saving humanitarian assistance to refugees fleeing Ukraine and third-country nationals, of whom a sizeable number would need international protection."
The plan will also focus on "solutions through the promotion of social and economic opportunities," Mantoo added.
In addition to those fleeing the country, more than 7.7 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine, according to the latest International Organization for Migration report, bringing the total number of those forced to flee their homes to 12.9 million.
There were also almost 13 million people estimated to be stranded in affected areas or unable to leave due to security risks, Mantoo said.