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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12:02 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Weeks after occupying city, Russian troops take control of Kherson City Council, officials say

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Josh Pennington and Natalie Gallon

Weeks after first occupying the major Ukrainian city of Kherson, Russian troops have taken control of the Kherson City Council, according to two members of the city government.

Kherson Mayor Igor Kolykhaev said on his Facebook that on Monday night, "armed men entered the building of the Kherson City Council, took the keys and replaced our guards with their own." 

Addressing rumors that the Ukrainian flag that flew over city council had also been taken down, Kolykhaev noted that the flag was still flying over the building when he left.

Yuri Sobolevsky, Kherson regional deputy, described the incident on his Facebook page as a "seizure," saying it was "unfortunately, quite expected."  

"Kherson's city hall was 'allowed' to function in a reduced format for a while, but that time seems to be over, too," Sobolevsky continued

12:12 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Zelensky scoffs at Russia's planned "sham referendum" in occupied Kherson

From CNN's Andrew Carey, Kostan Nechyporenko and Victoria Butenko

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his nightly address, on Monday, April 25.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his nightly address, on Monday, April 25. (Zelensky/Youtube)

Two days ahead of Russia’s plans to stage a referendum in the occupied Kherson region of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky has hailed his people’s refusal to give their backing to Russia’s occupying forces.

“People [in occupied towns] have showed with their protest their attitude toward the occupiers; [they have] showed that Ukraine will definitely win,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Monday.

“Russia wants to stage a sham 'referendum' somewhere on our land? Even if they try, it will be as shameful as everything else that was "created" in Moscow to support the occupation of Ukraine,” he added.

Russian occupation: Russia has announced it will hold a vote in the southern region of Kherson — which It has occupied since the opening weeks of the war — on Wednesday, in which people will be asked to approve the "independence" of a new entity called “the Kherson People’s Republic.”

Meanwhile, as the war enters its third month, Zelensky said Russia had fired more than 1,100 missiles at Ukrainian targets, in addition to “countless bombs and artillery.”

The Ukrainian president said 931 settlements in Ukraine had been liberated by Ukrainian forces after temporary occupation by Russian forces. 

In addition, since the start of hostilities some 9,781 Ukrainians had been presented with state awards for their defense of their country, and 142 people had been given a ‘Hero of Ukraine’ award.

“The lessons of history are well known. If you are going to build a millennial Reich, you lose. If you are going to destroy the neighbours — you lose. If you want to restore the old empire, you lose. And if you go against the Ukrainians — you lose,” Zelensky said.

EU membership: And he struck an upbeat note about Ukraine’s advance towards possible membership of the European Union, which has become a key goal for the Ukrainian leadership.

Joining the EU: And he struck an upbeat note about Ukraine’s advance towards possible membership of the European Union, which has become a key goal for the Ukrainian leadership.

“We are accelerating our movement to the European Union as much as possible. We have already passed a historic moment, an important stage — with the receipt and answering a special questionnaire, which was provided to each country before they acquired the status of a candidate for EU membership.”
5:29 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Drone video shows village of Novotoshkivka in Luhansk region completely destroyed by fighting

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Drone footage shows the destruction in Novotoshkivka, on Monday, April 25.
Drone footage shows the destruction in Novotoshkivka, on Monday, April 25. (Luhansk People’s Republic)

There is not much left of Novotoshkivka, a small village about 16 miles — or 26 kilometers — southeast of Severodonetsk, new drone video published on Monday by the Russian-backed separatist government Luhansk People's Republic shows.

CNN has geolocated and confirmed the authenticity of the video.

Novotoshkivka was a very dense but small village in the Luhansk oblast, in eastern Ukraine; it only stretches about half a mile long, and a third of a mile wide. 

Now, fighting in the new war between Russian and Ukrainian forces have left it completely destroyed. Russian backed separatists claim the Ukrainians blew it up when they retreated from their positions in the village.

Serhiy Hayday, the Luhansk regional administrator, confirmed Ukrainian forces there had retreated but claimed on his Facebook page that the Russians had decimated the village through repeated airstrikes.

In remarks made on Ukrainian television Monday, Hayday said that the Russians "keep razing everything to the ground."

"Unfortunately, there are almost no houses left in Novotoshkivka. Our [troops] retreated a little, but not much, because there was no longer anything to hold on to, there was nowhere to keep the defense," he said.

Novotoshkivka had been the site of intense fighting over the last week. At the time, the Ukrainian government and Luhansk regional administration said Russian forces there had been repelled after repeatedly trying to take over the village.

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