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
19 Posts
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6:23 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Trevor Reed's mother says he is back in the US

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

Paula and Joey Reed speak at a news conference in Granbury, Texas, U.S, concerning the homecoming of their son, U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was convicted in 2019 in Russia and released in exchange for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko on April 27.
Paula and Joey Reed speak at a news conference in Granbury, Texas, U.S, concerning the homecoming of their son, U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was convicted in 2019 in Russia and released in exchange for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko on April 27. (Shelby Tauber/Reuters)

Trevor Reed’s mother, Paula Reed, tweeted in the early hours of Thursday that her son is back in the United States.

“It's been very exciting day for the Reed family,” Paula tweeted. “Trevor is back in the USA.”

Trevor Reed, a US citizen and former Marine who had been detained in Russia since 2019, was released in a prisoner swap Wednesday.

In her tweet, Paula also advocated for the release of Paul Whelan, a US citizen and former Marine who was detained at a Moscow hotel in December 2018 and arrested on espionage charges, which he has consistently and vehemently denied.

“It's been a day of joy for us, but not for #PaulWhelan and his family. I know this is a hard day for them. Pls keep them (and the MANY others) in your prayers.),” she tweeted.

5:57 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Germany must "try the unrealistic'' to break away from Russian gas, says vice chancellor

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt and Lindsay Isaac

The Mallnow natural gas compressor station of Gascade Gastransport GmbH on April 27. The compressor station in Mallnow near the German-Polish border mainly receives Russian natural gas.
The Mallnow natural gas compressor station of Gascade Gastransport GmbH on April 27. The compressor station in Mallnow near the German-Polish border mainly receives Russian natural gas. (Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Germany's Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck has said that his government's goal must be to ensure independence from Russian energy supplies, even if it means pushing for alternative solutions previously considered “unrealistic.”

Following Russia's decision to stop gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday over their refusal to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin's demand for payment in rubles, Habeck told journalists at a press briefing in Berlin that Germany's dependence on Russian gas has rapidly decreased in recent weeks. 

“Germany has now slashed its gas imports from Russia to 35 percent -- compared to 55 percent before the start of the war,” he said. 

While it is "not realistic" for Germany to completely ban Russian gas before next year given the new infrastructure required to diversify gas imports, ''nevertheless, we have to try the unrealistic in some ways now,” Habeck said.

Habeck urged Germany to speed up the building of a liquid natural gas terminal within ten months’ time. Habeck described Russia's decision to cease supplies of gas to Poland and Bulgaria as an example of ''the reality where energy is used as a weapon'' and said that ''Russia is showing that it's ready to get serious.'' 

They’re ready to put a stop to gas deliveries. We have to take that seriously, and that also goes for other European countries,” Habeck said. 

''It would be cynical if big and powerful Germany thought: 'Oh well, you can beat up the little guys a bit -- that's a warning for you.' No this is reality -- this is the reality where energy is used as a weapon and we have to see that we are not defenseless when energy is used as a weapon.”  

Germany's goal is to diversify energy infrastructures accordingly and ''revamp our energy infrastructure based on renewable energy and massive savings so that we are not defenseless,” he added.

On Tuesday during a visit to Poland, Habeck said that Germany could handle an embargo on Russian oil imports, hinting that the country could end its dependence on Russian oil imports shortly. Habeck told journalists that Germany's share of crude oil imported from Russia has fallen from 35 percent before the war to around 12 percent, adding that a European embargo on Russian oil would be "manageable.”

Habeck stressed Wednesday that Germany would continue to make its energy payments in euros or dollars in line with its European partners.

5:33 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Dozens of houses hit by shelling in one Donetsk village, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv and Julia Kesaieva in Kyiv

A social media image shows one of the damaged houses in the village of Lastochkine, Ukraine, on April 28.
A social media image shows one of the damaged houses in the village of Lastochkine, Ukraine, on April 28. (Telegram)

As Russian shelling intensifies across a wide swathe of eastern Ukraine, officials in Donetsk have posted photographs of one small hamlet in the region in which over two dozen homes have been hit.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, Head of Donetsk regional military administration, said on his Telegram channel that 27 houses just in the village of Lastochkine had been damaged by shelling. He gave no information on casualties. 

The village is near the small town of Ocheretyn, a few miles from the current front lines. Ocheretyn has also seen widespread shelling by Russian forces trying to break through Ukrainian lines.

Since they launched the second phase of their military operation, Russian forces have intensified artillery and rocket fire against towns and villages along the front lines, which run for hundreds of kilometers from Luhansk and Donetsk in the east to Kherson and Mykolaiv in the south.

8:46 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Japan protests Russia’s retaliatory expulsion of 8 diplomats

From CNN’s Emiko Jozuka

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno attends a press conference at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, Japan, on April 28.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno attends a press conference at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, Japan, on April 28. (Kyodo News/Getty Images)

Japan has lodged a protest with Moscow over its decision to expel eight Japanese diplomats from Russia, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Thursday. 

"We absolutely cannot accept Russia issuing this notice," Matsuno told reporters, blaming Moscow for the breakdown in bilateral ties. 

Moscow announced on Wednesday the retaliatory expulsion of the Japanese diplomats, who must leave the country by May 10, Russia's Foreign Ministry said, according to state news agency TASS. The move comes after Tokyo expelled eight Russian diplomats and officials in April over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Japanese Ambassador to Moscow Toyohisa Kozuki is not among those expelled, Matsuno said on Thursday. 

On Wednesday, Russia's Foreign Ministry said a representative of the Embassy of Japan was summoned and told that Tokyo has embarked on a "deliberately anti-Russian course" since Russia's operation in Ukraine, according to TASS. 

Japan's Embassy in Moscow also issued a statement Wednesday calling the invasion "a clear violation of international” and “absolutely unacceptable,” adding that Russia's killing of innocent citizens is a "war crime."

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.