April 28, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya, Maureen Chowdhury, Ed Upright, Andrew Raine, Seán Federico O'Murchú, Ben Morse and Jeevan Ravindran, CNN

Updated 2:32 AM ET, Fri April 29, 2022
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4:22 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Kherson "sham referendum" is ruled out as Russian-appointed official says return to Ukrainian control is "impossible"

From CNN's Tim Lister and Kostan Poryshenko

A Russian-appointed official in the occupied region of Kherson says its return to Ukrainian control is "impossible" – and has ruled out a referendum to decide its future.

The Deputy Chairman of the Russian-appointed administration of the region, Kirill Stremousov, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti:

"The issue of returning the Kherson region to Nazi Ukraine is excluded. This is impossible. The Kherson region will develop economically. "

Stremousov, who is Ukrainian and has a long record on the fringes of regional politics, added:

Kyiv will no longer be able to impose its ugly Nazi policy on our land, aimed at destroying people and their identity."

Last month, Ukrainian prosecutors opened a case against Stremousov for "assisting a foreign state in carrying out subversive activities against Ukraine."

There had been reports that the Russians would organize some form of a referendum in Kherson on whether the southern region should become an independent republic, like the self-declared republics of Luhansk and Donetsk. But Stremousov said that would not happen. 

He said the main task was to restore the region's economy, and "no referendums are planned."

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Zelensky derided reported plans to hold a referendum in Kherson.

"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 said.

8:47 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Canadian lawmakers vote unanimously to recognize "acts of genocide" committed by Russia

From CNN’s Hannah Ritchie in Hong Kong

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on April 27.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on April 27. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

The Canadian House of Commons voted unanimously on Wednesday to recognize “acts of genocide” being committed by Russia in Ukraine. 

“By unanimous consent, it was resolved that, given that there is clear and ample evidence of systematic and massive war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed against the people of Ukraine by the armed forces of the Russian Federation, directed by President Vladimir Putin and others within the Russian parliament…the House recognizes that the Russian Federation is committing acts of genocide against the Ukrainian people,” the HOC statement said. 

The motion described mass atrocities, willful killings of Ukrainian civilians, the forcible transfer of Ukrainian citizens to Russian territory, and “widespread instances of physical harm, mental harm and rape.” 

Some context: In mid-April, US President Joe Biden said Putin’s actions in Ukraine amounted to genocide, after accusing the Kremlin of “trying to wipe out even the idea of being Ukrainian,” comments which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supported at the time.  

Evidence of mass graves in the towns of Bucha and Borodianka on the outskirts of Kyiv has continued to emerge since early April, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kyiv region.

During a visit to investigate the civilian deaths, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Karim Khan said there were “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC'' were being committed in Bucha and Borodianka. 

On Monday, the International Criminal Court joined an EU investigation into possible war crimes, marking the court's first joint investigation in its 20-year history.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the mass killings of civilians while reiterating baseless claims that images of bodies on the streets of Bucha are “fake.”

8:47 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Putin may dig in like a "cancerous growth" in Ukraine, UK Defense Secretary says

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace holds a news conference in London, England, on March 21.
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace holds a news conference in London, England, on March 21. (Peter Nicholls/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin may seek to consolidate what he has got in Ukraine and dig in like a "cancerous growth" within the country, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday.

"I think it's certainly the case that Putin, having failed in nearly all his objectives, may seek to consolidate what he's got, sort of fortify and dig in as he did in 2014. And just be a sort of cancerous growth within the country of Ukraine and make it very hard for people to move them out of those fortified positions,” he told Sky News.
You can see in his current statements he is, in almost desperation, trying to broaden this either with threats or indeed, with potential false flags or attacks," he added.

Some background: Russia's initial assault, launched on February 24, was a massive setback for Putin as the Ukrainian military held off the invading forces as they advanced toward Kyiv.

Moscow's second phase appears focused on reinforcing its presence in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, parts of which Russian-backed separatists have controlled since 2014, and carving out a land bridge linking the Russian region of Rostov with Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine eight years ago.

3:18 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Russians "exerting intense fire" on multiple fronts, Ukraine military says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

Members of the Ukrainian military guard a forward position on April 27, in a frontline village in Hulyaipole District, Zaporizhia Region, Ukraine. Russia has stepped up its attacks in southeast Ukraine as it tries to advance further into Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts.
Members of the Ukrainian military guard a forward position on April 27, in a frontline village in Hulyaipole District, Zaporizhia Region, Ukraine. Russia has stepped up its attacks in southeast Ukraine as it tries to advance further into Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Russian forces "are exerting intense fire" as a multi-pronged offensive takes shape across three regions, according to the Ukrainian military leadership.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Thursday the Russians are focusing on trying to make a breakthrough in the Izium area of eastern Ukraine. 

Izium — in the Kharkiv region — has become a staging ground for Russian forces as they try to advance through neighboring Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

"In order to strengthen the advancing group, the occupiers additionally moved airborne units to the city of Izium," the General Staff said in its daily operational update.

One of Russia's aims is to advance on the settlement of Lyman, which is near the industrial and transport hub of Sloviansk, it said.

"The enemy has improved its tactical position, trying to develop an offensive on the village of Lyman," the General Staff said, and is preparing to cross the Seversky Donets river.

Images emerged Wednesday showing a bridge over the river had been destroyed.

To the south-east, near Donetsk city, "the main efforts are focused on surrounding the Defense Forces," the General Staff said, with the towns of Mariinka and Ocheretyn under fire.

In the Luhansk region, the Russians are attacking the small town of Orikhove, the General Staff said.

Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said Russia's offensive near Orikhove hasn't been successful. But the town of Lysychansk, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) away, was hit hard, with 13 buildings destroyed.

"All the hits in Lysychansk, 99% (...) are in residential districts, houses, markets and shops," Haidai said.

Haidai said the hospital at Severodonetsk was still working despite being shelled on Wednesday.

In southern Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian military, the Russians are using an airfield at Melitopol airfield as a base for Su-25 attack aircraft, Ka-52 attack helicopters and Mi-8 transport and combat aircraft.

The military acknowledged that the Russians have made incremental progress in the Kherson region as they try to advance toward the city of Mykolaiv. "The enemy has gained a foothold in the area of ​​the settlement of Tavrijske," and from there is shelling nearby villages, it said.

The General Staff claimed that on Wednesday, one Russian plane and six drones were shot down, while on the ground five tanks and other armored vehicles had been destroyed. 

Some background: As part of the second phase of its invasion, Russia has said it wants to secure all of Ukraine's eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk — parts of which Russian-backed separatists have controlled since 2014 — and to consolidate a land bridge linking the Russian region of Rostov with Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine eight years ago.

1:43 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

War will continue until "Russia decides to end it," UN Secretary-General says

From CNN’s Hannah Ritchie in Hong Kong

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media members as he arrives in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 27.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media members as he arrives in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 27. (Andre Luis Alves/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The war in Ukraine will continue until "Russia decides to end it," the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told CNN on Wednesday.

"The war will not end with meetings,” he told CNN's Anderson Cooper during a wide-ranging interview. "The war will end when the Russian Federation decides to end it and when there is – after a ceasefire – a possibility of a serious political agreement. We can have all the meetings but that is not what will end the war."

On Tuesday, Guterres traveled to Moscow for a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss “proposals for humanitarian assistance and the evacuation of civilians” from conflict zones, namely the besieged city of Mariupol, according to a UN readout of the discussion.

As a result, Putin agreed “in principle” to allow the UN and the International Committee for the Red Cross to assist in the evacuation of citizens from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, the last bastion of Ukrainian defense in the city.

Asked what role the UN intended to play in the investigations of war crimes allegedly carried out by Russian forces in the town of Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv, Guterres reiterated his calls for an "independent investigation."

Some context: The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the mass killings of civilians in Ukraine while reiterating baseless claims that images of bodies on the streets of Bucha are "fake."

Evidence of mass graves in the towns of Bucha and Borodianka has continued to emerge since early April, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kyiv region.

12:34 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Analysis: How the widening war in Ukraine will cost the world

From CNN's Stephen Collinson

The vicious epicenter of the war in Ukraine now rests in the scorched cities of the east and the south. But the conflict's reverberations are widening in a way that will leave few people on Earth -- from small-town America to poverty-stricken Africa -- untouched.

Many wars, from World War I to the conflict in Iraq, at first seem certain to end quickly with a short, violent shock. But often they confound such predictions, degenerating into protracted slogs with domino effects that cause distant and far-reaching political, economic and humanitarian effects.

Russia's war on Ukraine is following this pattern. After starting with predictions of a blitzkrieg to seize Kyiv two months ago, the war is set to drag on for weeks and months, if not longer.

The consequences of a war that lasts even that long are grave.

Given Russian President Vladimir Putin's vicious assault on civilians, it will mean many more Ukrainian dead and almost inevitably more atrocities and war crimes. There will be an ever-present danger of the war spilling over and causing a wider conflagration — both militarily and in a growing showdown over Russia's energy exports, which Europe badly needs.

Any time two nuclear powers as large as Russia and the US are locked in even an indirect conflict, as is the case given Washington's massive injection of arms into Ukraine, the possibility of a direct confrontation remains.

And a longer war means more uncertainty for Western leaders.

Read more here:

1:28 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

UN chief says his meeting with Putin was "very useful"

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Moscow, on Tuesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Moscow, on Tuesday. (Russia Foreign Ministry/EyePress News/Reuters)

In his face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said his message was unchanged from the start of the conflict: The Russian invasion is a breach of the UN Charter and it must end as quickly as possible.

Guterres, who is expected to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, described his encounter with the Russian leader as “very useful.”

The secretary-general told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he expressed his concerns about the violations of international law, human rights law and the “possibility of war crimes.”

Guterres defended the role of the UN in terms of bringing an end to the two-month-old conflict.

“The war will not end with meetings,” he said. “The war will end when the Russian Federation decides to end it and when there is – after a ceasefire – a possibility of a serious political agreement. We can have all the meetings but that is not what will end the war.”

During the meeting with Putin, Guterres said he discussed the evacuation of civilians from the steel factory encircled in the southern port city of Mariupol. 

He said Putin agreed “in principle” on the evacuation of civilians and that discussions were taking place between UN officials and Russia’s ministry of defense to hammer out the details. 

“We are also in contact with the government of Ukraine to see if we can have a situation in which nobody can blame the other side for things not happening,” he said.

11:55 p.m. ET, April 27, 2022

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Poland and Bulgaria are receiving gas from their EU neighbors, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, after Russian energy giant Gazprom halted supplies Wednesday when the two countries refused to pay in rubles. Von der Leyen described the Russian move as "blackmail." Another EU member, Hungary, said it will use the payment scheme put in place by Moscow to pay for its oil and gas.

Here are the latest developments:

Putin issues warning: President Vladimir Putin warned that any country interfering in Ukraine would be met with a “lightning-fast” response from Russia. “We have all the tools for this — ones that no one can brag about. And we won't brag. We will use them if needed. And I want everyone to know this,” he told lawmakers in St. Petersburg.

Worry about Transnistria: Ukrainian officials have been talking about the risk of another front in the conflict with Russia opening up — along the border with Moldova in the southwest. Part of the Moldovan border region is controlled by a pro-Russian administration in what's called Transnistria.

US-Russia exchange prisoners: American Trevor Reed, a US citizen and former Marine who had been detained in Russia since 2019, was released in a prisoner swap for Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko. Reed's release will not impact the US approach to the war in Ukraine, senior administration officials said.

Russian tanks' costly flaw: Hundreds of Russian tanks are thought to have been destroyed since Moscow launched its offensive in Ukraine. Experts say battlefield images show the tanks are suffering from a defect that Western militaries have known about for decades and refer to as the "jack-in-the-box effect." Moscow, they say, should have seen the problem coming.

Ukrainians allegedly executed while surrendering: The US said it has credible information that a Russian military unit executed Ukrainians who were attempting to surrender near Donetsk. "If true, this would be a violation of a core principle of the laws of war," Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack said at the United Nations.

Surge in sponsorship applications: More than 4,000 applications were filed to sponsor Ukrainians seeking to come to the US within 48 hours of the Biden administration launching its streamlined process for those fleeing Ukraine, a spokesperson for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services told CNN.  

11:53 p.m. ET, April 27, 2022

Kherson region of Ukraine will transition to ruble from May 1: Russian state media

From CNN's Masha Angelova

The Russian-occupied Kherson region of Ukraine will transition to using the ruble from May 1, according to Russian state media.  

The Deputy Chairman of the Civil-Military Administration of the region, Kirill Stremousov, told the RIA-Novosti news agency that the transition period will take up to four months during which both the Russian ruble and the Ukrainian hryvnia will be in circulation. After that, there will be a full transition to the ruble. 

CNN was unable to independently verify Stremousov’s statement.

Some context: Previous CNN reporting confirmed that Russian forces had installed a new local government in Kherson on Tuesday.

The installation took place days after Russian forces took control of the Kherson City Council building, removing the elected government and replacing its security with Russian military troops.