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April 28, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

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What we covered

  • Ukrainian officials say several people were injured in Russia’s missile attack on Kyiv Thursday night, which occurred as the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres was finishing a visit to the Ukrainian capital.
  • The UN secretary-general met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Tuesday. The UN is urging for evacuation corridors in the besieged city of Mariupol.
  • An American citizen, Willy Joseph Cancel, was killed Monday while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, members of his family told CNN.
  • US President Joe Biden called Russian comments about a possible nuclear war “irresponsible” as he announced he’s seeking additional aid for Ukraine.
  • Germany’s vice chancellor said it must “try the unrealistic” to break away from Russian gas, a day after Moscow was accused of “blackmail” by halting gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria when they refused to pay in rubles. Hungary’s foreign minister told CNN it will use the ruble payment scheme put in place by Russia. 
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American killed fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, his family says

An American citizen, Willy Joseph Cancel, was killed this week while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, members of his family told CNN. 

The 22-year-old was working with a private military contracting company when he was killed on Monday. The company had sent him to Ukraine, and he was being paid while he was fighting there, Cancel’s mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN.

Cancel, a former US Marine, according to his mother, signed up to work for the private military contracting company on top of his full-time job as a corrections officer in Tennessee shortly before the war in Ukraine broke out, Cabrera said. When the war began, the company, according to Cabrera, was searching for contractors to fight in Ukraine and Cancel agreed to go, Cabrera said.

“He wanted to go over because he believed in what Ukraine was fighting for, and he wanted to be a part of it to contain it there so it didn’t come here, and that maybe our American soldiers wouldn’t have to be involved in it,” Cabrera said. 

Read more here

Willy Joseph Cancel, an American citizen, was killed fighting alongside Ukrainians in Ukraine.

American killed fighting alongside Ukrainian forces in Ukraine | CNN Politics

Locals horrified by Russia’s relentless attack on the vast steel plant shielding Ukrainians

Few beyond the metals industry had heard of Mariupol’s Azovstal Steel and Iron Works before it became the scene of a desperate last stand against Russia’s invading forces.

Until recently Azovstal was a major player on the global stage, producing 4 million tons of steel annually and exporting the majority across the globe, according to its owner Metinvest Holding, Ukraine’s biggest steelmaker.

From London’s Shard skyscraper to Hudson Yards in Manhattan to Genoa’s San Giorgio Bridge (which replaced the collapsed Morandi Bridge), steel produced at Azovstal is used in some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks.

But for weeks now, the world has been gripped by the battle raging over the steelworks on the coast of the Sea of Azov.

“The city’s literally under siege for almost two months now. And the Russians, they don’t allow us to bring food into the city or water into the city,” said Yuriy Ryzhenkov, CEO of Metinvest Holding which owns the plant.
“They’re not allowing us to take the civilians out of the city in a centralized manner. They make the people either move out in their own automobiles or even walk by foot through the minefields. It’s a humanitarian disaster there.”

Asked why Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to take Azovstal so badly, Ryzhenkov tells CNN, “I don’t think it’s the plant that he wants.”

At least 150 employees have been killed and thousands remain unaccounted for, he says.

Read the full story:

It's 3 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

Firefighters put out a fire after a Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, April 28. Russia mounted attacks across a wide area of Ukraine on Thursday, bombarding Kyiv during a visit by the head of the United Nations.

Ukrainian officials have condemned Russia’s missile attack on Kyiv Thursday night, saying it occurred as the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was finishing a visit to the Ukrainian capital. 

President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his daily video message, said that “Today, immediately after the end of our talks [with Guterres] in Kyiv, Russian missiles flew into the city. 5 missiles. This says a lot about Russia’s true attitude to global institutions, about the Russian leadership’s efforts to humiliate the UN and everything that the organization represents. And therefore requires an appropriate, powerful response.”

“Russian missile strikes on Ukraine — on Kyiv, Fastiv, Odesa, Khmelnytskyi and other cities — prove once again that one cannot relax yet, one cannot think that the war is over. We still need to fight, we need to drive the occupiers out,” Zelensky said

If you’re just joining us, here’s a look at other key updates about the invasion and the global response so far:

10 Russian soldiers identified as suspects in “crimes committed” in Bucha, Zelensky says: President Zelensky said 10 Russian service members have been identified as suspects in the “crimes committed against our people in Bucha.”

In his nightly address posted to social media on Thursday, Zelensky said the investigation into crimes committed by the Russian military is underway and that the “first ten Russian servicemen from the 64th motorized rifle brigade of the Russian Ground Forces who committed crimes against our people in Bucha, Kyiv region, received the status of suspects.”

UN chief urges evacuation corridors to open in Mariupol: “Thousands of civilians need life-saving assistance”: The United Nations secretary-general urged on Thursday for evacuation corridors to open up in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, saying that the besieged city is a “crisis within a crisis.” 

“Today the people of Mariupol are in desperate need for such an approach. Mariupol is a crisis within a crisis,” Guterres said in Kyiv, speaking at news conference alongside  Zelensky .

“Thousands of civilians need life-saving assistance. Many are elderly need medical care or have limited mobility, they need an escape route out of the apocalypse,” he added.  

The UN chief met with Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday following a visit to Moscow where he met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. 

Russian forces are trying to eradicate Ukrainian identity in Kherson: Russian forces occupying much of the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson are trying to extend their grip over the area and eradicate its Ukrainian identity.

They have made modest advances on the battlefield, with the Ukrainians acknowledging a loss of territory in the direction of Mykolaiv to the northwest.

In recent days the Russians have appointed their own officials to run Kherson, replacing elected Ukrainian officials. On Thursday one of those newly installed officials said Kherson would begin to use the ruble from next week and the Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia, would be replaced within four months.

Additionally, Russian television channels have taken the place of Ukrainian networks.

Now one of the Ukrainian representatives on Kherson’s regional council has accused the Russian forces of threatening educators.

45 Ukrainians freed in latest prisoner exchange with Russia, official says: Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Thursday that 45 Ukrainians were freed in the latest exchange of prisoners of war with Russia. 

“Today 45 of our people have been released from Russian captivity: 13 officers and 20 soldiers, including 5 wounded,” Vereshchuk said in a post on Telegram. 

“We are also returning 12 of our civilians home,” she added. 

The deputy prime minister did not provide details on how many Russian prisoners were freed in the exchange. Russia is yet to confirm the swap.

Ukrainian military strengthens security at border with Transnistria, military official says

The Ukrainian military is strengthening security at its border with Transnistria, a Russian-backed region in Moldova, a Ukrainian military spokesperson said Thursday.

“Forces of defense continue to carry out the set combat tasks to protect and defend Odesa and the Odesa region. Also, in particular, we have strengthened the protection of the state border with the so-called Transnistria, where Russian provocations continue in order to create certain generators of tension for Odesa and the Odesa region,” Serhii Bratchuk, a spokesperson for the Odesa regional military administration, said on Telegram Thursday.

More background: Earlier this week a series of unexplained explosions occurred in parts of Transnistria which Ukraine described as a planned provocation by Russian security services. On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova dismissed “sensational” claims about Russia preparing an offensive using its troops stationed in the region, as well as conscripts from Transnistria.

US officials say Russian forces are making progress in Ukraine — but it's "slow and uneven"

Russian forces have made some progress in Moscow’s renewed assault on eastern Ukraine, according to US and NATO officials, as their military tries to fix the myriad problems that plagued the early weeks of the invasion. 

The US has seen “some evidence” of improvement in Russia’s ability to combine air and ground operations, as well as its capacity for resupplying forces in the field, officials say.

The progress is “slow and uneven,” a senior US defense official said, allowing Russian forces to advance only “several kilometers or so” each day.  

But the US assesses that Russia is trying to learn from the mistakes it made early on, where columns of tanks and armor ran out of food and fuel, leaving them easy prey to Ukrainian hit-and-run tactics. 

Russia has placed command and control elements near its border with eastern Ukraine, according to a senior NATO official, a sign they are attempting to fix the communications and coordination failures observed in the attack on Kyiv. 

Before the invasion began on Feb. 24th, Russia amassed 125 to 130 battalion tactical groups, known as BTGs, around Ukraine and near Kyiv in particular, but when the fighting began, Russia’s military leaders showed little ability to have them fight as one.  

There are 92 BTGS in country now, with another 20 just across border in Russia, according to the senior defense official.

“The attacks are somewhat better coordinated but with small formations. Company size units with helicopter support,” a European defense official said. “The lowest level of mutual support. In NATO this would be basic stuff.”

Still, western officials familiar with the latest intelligence say even if Russia has learned key lessons from its systemic failures in the first stage of the conflict, it’s not clear that Moscow will be able to implement the necessary changes to dominate in the Donbas region.

Its military has suffered heavy losses in both manpower and equipment and officials believe that other equipment relocated from different parts of Ukraine likely isn’t fully repaired yet. Many of the fighting units have cobbled together soldiers who have never fought or trained together.  

“I don’t know how many lessons they can actually operationalize. It’s not a simple thing,” said the senior NATO official. “You don’t just move tanks and personnel and say, ‘Now go back into the fight!’” 

You can read more here.

Alex Marquardt and Natasha Bertrand contributed reporting to this post.

Ukrainian foreign minister calls Kyiv strikes "heinous act of barbarism"

Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, called the Russian missile strikes in Kyiv a “heinous act of barbarism” in a tweet Thursday.

Ukrainian officials have condemned Russia’s missile attack on Kyiv Thursday night, which they say occurred as the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was finishing a visit to the Ukrainian capital. 

View Kuleba’s tweet:

CNN’s Tim Lister contributed to this report.

Zelensky: 10 Russian soldiers identified as suspects in "crimes committed" in Bucha

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 10 Russian servicemembers have been identified as suspects in the “crimes committed against our people in Bucha”.

In his nightly address posted to social media on Thursday, Zelensky said the investigation into crimes committed by the Russian military is underway and that the “first ten Russian servicemen from the 64th motorized rifle brigade of the Russian Ground Forces who committed crimes against our people in Bucha, Kyiv region, received the status of suspects.”

Zelensky said the suspects’ surnames are known and “it is established what they did.”
“We know all the details about them and their actions. And we will find everyone. Just as we will find all the other Russian thugs who killed and tortured Ukrainians. Who tormented our people. Who destroyed houses and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine,” Zelensky said, adding that none of them will avoid responsibility.

In early April, images emerged from Bucha showing bodies lying along streets and accounts of Russian atrocities emerged as its forces retreated from areas near Kyiv.

Zelensky called it “genocide” and the alleged atrocities in Bucha have drawn international outrage, with Western leaders calling for war crimes investigations and fresh sanctions on Russia. Russia’s Ministry of Defense denied responsibility and said “not a single local resident suffered from any violent actions” in Bucha.

Orphaned Ukrainian girl is reunited with grandfather after she was taken to a Russian-controlled area

Oleksander Obedinsky is reunited with his granddaughter Kira Obedinsky in Donetsk.

When 12-year-old Kira Obedinsky, orphaned by war, was whisked from her hometown of Mariupol to a hospital in a Russian-controlled area of eastern Ukraine earlier in March, she was unsure if she would ever be reunited with her remaining family members.

Now in Kyiv, against all the odds, she sits on a hospital bed with her grandfather Oleksander Obedinsky — and on Wednesday spoke to CNN for the first time about her ordeal. She continues to recover from injuries that nurses say include shell fragment wounds to her face, neck, and legs. Her scarred face and introverted manner are signs of the physical and psychological trauma she has suffered.

The Obedinsky family has been torn apart by this war. Kira’s father, Yevhen Obedinsky, a former captain of Ukraine’s national water polo team, was killed on March 17 as Russian forces shelled the city. In that moment, Kira was orphaned, her mother having died when Kira was two weeks old.

Days after her father’s death, Kira was taken to a hospital in the Donetsk region by Russian-speaking soldiers after sustaining injuries from a landmine while trying to flee Mariupol with her father’s girlfriend.

“The [Russian] military came running, they stopped two cars and took us to Manhush, to a hospital because we were bleeding. Then they took us from Manhush to another Donetsk hospital,” said Kira.

Speaking to CNN earlier this month from Kyiv, Oleksander told CNN that he feared he would never see his granddaughter again because it was almost impossible to travel across the war-torn country to retrieve her. He said he had spoken to the hospital where Kira was being treated and was told she would eventually be sent to an orphanage in Russia.

Their grateful reunion, more than a month after they had last seen each other, was orchestrated by negotiators from Ukraine and Russia – and involved an epic international journey.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Kira in the hospital to celebrate her return, also giving her an iPad to entertain her as she recovers.

Oleksander said he had told Zelensky that Kira was “tired but happy” and thanked him for the safe return of his granddaughter. “Nobody believed [it would be possible]. But thank God we managed,” he told CNN.

Retrieving Kira from territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists was no easy task. Following media coverage of her plight, the Ukrainian government told her grandfather they had reached an agreement that would allow him to travel to Donetsk to pick up his granddaughter — but that it would not be an easy undertaking.

Undeterred, Oleksander immediately embarked as instructed on what was to be a grueling four-day journey, taking a train to Poland, a flight to Turkey, a second flight to Moscow, followed by a train ride to the southern Russian city of Rostov, before finally reaching a tearful Kira after another car journey to Donetsk, he said.

After an emotional reunion – with countless tight hugs, they said — the pair then set off home, taking the same protracted route on the return leg to Kyiv.

Read more about Kira’s journey here.

US House passes Ukrainian Lend Lease Act

The US House passed a bill that will give President Joe Biden broader authority to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian incursion into their country. 

The Ukrainian Democracy Defense Land-Lease Act, which passed the House with a wide bipartisan majority — allows the President to enter lend-lease agreements with Ukraine to provide them with defense articles in order to protect civilian populations.

The final vote was 417-10, with the ten no votes coming from Republican Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Warren Davidson of Ohio, and Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin.

Broadly speaking, the bill waives certain requirements that typically apply to lend-lease agreements for defensive equipment and arms, provided that those “articles are intended for Ukraine’s government or the governments of other Eastern European countries affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” It also waives the prohibition that the loan or lease cannot extend beyond five years. 

The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent in early April and now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.

Blinken and US lawmakers applaud Ukrainian parliamentarians who stopped at hearing in DC

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and lawmakers from the US House Foreign Affairs Committee applauded a delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians who came in to observe a hearing Thursday afternoon.

Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski noted their presence in the room, and they were given about 13 seconds of sustained applause during the hearing. The camera showed them standing up for recognition

“It is our great hope that you will soon be able to meet as we do here without any fear of violence being done to your beautiful capital and that your democracy will long endure,” said Malinowski, who was presiding over the briefing.

Ukrainian president says missiles struck Kyiv while UN chief was visiting

Smoke rises after missiles landed at sunset on April 28, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials have condemned Russia’s missile attack on Kyiv Thursday night, which occurred as the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was finishing a visit to the Ukrainian capital. 

President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his daily video message, said that “Today, immediately after the end of our talks [with Guterres] in Kyiv, Russian missiles flew into the city. 5 missiles. This says a lot about Russia’s true attitude to global institutions, about the Russian leadership’s efforts to humiliate the UN and everything that the organization represents. And therefore requires an appropriate, powerful response.”

“Russian missile strikes on Ukraine — on Kyiv, Fastiv, Odesa, Khmelnytskyi and other cities — prove once again that one cannot relax yet, one cannot think that the war is over. We still need to fight, we need to drive the occupiers out,” Zelensky said

The Ukrainian Prime Minister, Denys Shmyhal, said in a tweet: “During the meeting with @antonioguterres in Kyiv, we heard explosions. Russia launched a missile strike on the capital. I am sure that such defiant behavior of the occupier will be assessed properly by the UN Secretary-General. War in #Ukraine is an attack on world security!” 

A statement from the State Emergency Service in Kyiv stated:

“On April 28, at 8:13 p.m., the State Emergency Service in Kyiv received a report of a fire in the Shevchenkivskyi district of the capital. As a result of enemy shelling, a fire broke out in a 25-storey residential building with partial destruction of the 1st and 2nd floors. 
At 9:25 p.m., the fire was extinguished on a total area of ​​100 square meters … Search and rescue operations are underway. According to preliminary data, 5 people were rescued and 10 were injured. The information is being clarified.”

Putin's war on Ukraine has "driven US-Russia relations into the depths," US ambassador to Moscow says

John Sullivan, US ambassador to Moscow, speaks with Alisyn Camerota in an interview on CNN Newsroom, on Thursday, April 28.

The Russian war on Ukraine has “driven US-Russia relations into the depths,” US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan told CNN on Thursday. 

Although the top envoy did not say that the relationship between Washington and Moscow was at its absolute lowest point, Sullivan noted that it was “about as bad as it could be.”

In an interview from Moscow with Alisyn Camerota on CNN Newsroom, Sullivan said there is “very little engagement with the Russian government,” and his communications have focused on the detained US citizens and “the functioning of our embassy,” which is under sharp restrictions imposed by the Russian government.

On Wednesday, American Trevor Reed was released from Russian custody in a prisoner swap — a major development with which Sullivan was a key player. However, other Americans remain detained, including Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, the latter of whom has asked why he was “left behind.”

“Why was I left behind? While I am pleased Trevor is home with his family, I have been held on a fictitious charge of espionage for 40 months,” Whelan said in a statement to his parents and shared with CNN. “The world knows this charge was fabricated. Why hasn’t more been done to secure my release?”

Sullivan told CNN that he “couldn’t agree with Whelan more in the sense that he has been convicted of a fabricated charge. 

“I’ve been advocating for his release both publicly in negotiations with the Russian government since before I got here as ambassador, when I was deputy secretary of state when Paul was originally arrested back in December of 2018,” he said.

“I’ve never relented in my advocacy for Paul in engagement with the Russian government, for Paul’s release,” Sullivan added, noting that “this case, Trevor’s case is just one step.”

On the Russian war in Ukraine, Sullivan suggested it is up to one man — Russian President Vladimir Putin — to bring the brutal conflict to an end.

“This war started with a decision by President Putin; this war will end with a decision by President,” he said, adding that the United States is “going to do all we can to make sure that that decision is is a strategic defeat for him and his government, and not a victory for him in Ukraine,” the ambassador added.

The US ambassador said the rhetoric about Russia potentially using nuclear weapons has escalated in “a dramatically irresponsible way recently,” but noted it “isn’t new.” He recalled that in past conversations with the Russian government related to issues that were in the past related to Ukraine, the discussion would begin normally and then would “spiral” to warnings about nuclear confrontation if the US and NATO continued to support Ukraine.

“And my reaction on the other side of the table is astonishment,” Sullivan said. “And unfortunately, what we’ve seen most recently, is at the most senior levels of the US government, an escalation of that rhetoric.”

Sullivan said the US has ratcheted down in response, noting that US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had paused and then canceled a missile test despite pre-planning and notifying the Russian government.

“We do not engage in irresponsible rhetoric with respect to nuclear weapons,” he told CNN. 

The US is “prepared to deter nuclear aggression against the United States,” Sullivan added.

“We won’t succumb to nuclear blackmail, but we won’t tolerate nuclear saber rattling and nuclear brinksmanship,” he said.

Canadian military service members are training Ukrainians on Howitzers, defense official says

Canadian Minister of National Defence Anita Anand confirmed that Canadian military service members are also training Ukrainians in how to use Howitzers, which are long range weapons, during a news conference at the Pentagon on Thursday after meeting with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

“We stepped up our support by delivering M777 Howitzers to Ukrainian forces, and I can confirm that Canadian soldiers are now training their Ukrainian counterparts in the use of these weapons,” Anand said at the news conference.

45 Ukrainians freed in latest prisoner exchange with Russia, official says 

Ukrainian deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Thursday that 45 Ukrainians were freed in the latest exchange of prisoners of war with Russia. 

“We are also returning 12 of our civilians home,” she added. 

The deputy prime minister did not provide details on how many Russian prisoners were freed in the exchange. Russia is yet to confirm the swap.

Europe's human rights parliament proposes criminal tribunal to prosecute Russians accused of war crimes

The parliamentary body of Europe’s principle human rights organization has adopted a resolution calling on all its member and observer states to set up an international criminal tribunal with power to investigate and prosecute Russian politicians and soldiers allegedly committing war crimes in Ukraine.     

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said in a statement Thursday that they had unanimously adopted a resolution to “urgently set up an ad hoc international criminal tribunal, with a mandate to investigate and prosecute the crime of aggression allegedly committed by the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation.”  

The assembly is made up of 324 parliamentarians from the national parliaments of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states. The Council of Europe — not to be confused with the Council of the European Union — is the continent’s principle human rights organization.   

“The Assembly is appalled by widespread reports of the use of rape and torture as weapons of war,” it added.  

They propose it be set up in Strasbourg, possibly cooperating with the European Court of Human Rights.  

UN chief urges evacuation corridors to open in Mariupol: "Thousands of civilians need life-saving assistance"

United Nations secretary-general António Guterres speaks during a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine on Thursday April 28.

United Nations secretary-general António Guterres urged on Thursday for evacuation corridors to open up in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, saying that the besieged city is a “crisis within a crisis.”  

“Today the people of Mariupol are in desperate need for such an approach. Mariupol is a crisis within a crisis,” Guterres said in Kyiv, speaking at news conference alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky .

“Thousands of civilians need life-saving assistance. Many are elderly need medical care or have limited mobility, they need an escape route out of the apocalypse,” he added.  

The UN chief met with Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday following a visit to Moscow where he met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. 

Guterres cited his meeting with Putin and said that the Russian president agreed “in principle” for the involvement of the United Nations, and international committee for the Red Cross in the evacuation of civilians in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant.  

He added that he had “intense discussions” with Zelensky to make evacuation from Mariupol a reality.  

In a message to the Ukrainian people, Guterres said he wanted them to know that “the world sees you, hears you, and is in awe of your resilience and resolve.” 

“I also know that words of solidarity are not enough. I am here to zero in on needs on the ground and scale up operations,” he continued.  

He said the UN Security Council “failed to do everything in its power to prevent and end this war” and that the failure is “a source of great disappointment, frustration and anger.” 

During a news conference with Guterres, Zelensky said he believes that UN secretary general’s mission would be effective in the evacuation of civilians in Mariupol. 

“It’s important that Secretary has raised the issue of evacuating civilians from Mariupol,” Zelensky said, “Ukraine is ready to have immediate negotiations on the evacuation of people from the steel plant, as well as to ensure that the implementation of any agreements to be reached.”

Zelensky also said, “We believe that part of the mission of the Inspector General would be effective and we’re ready to support this in whatever matters possible.”

Earlier, the UN chief had visited the town of Borodianka and “expressed his sadness in seeing the destroyed buildings there,” according to deputy spokesperson for the secretary-general Farhan Haq said.

“He added that the war is an absurdity in the 21st century. The war is evil. And when one sees these situations our heart of course stays with the victims,” Haq said.

Explosions heard in Kyiv

CNN teams in Kyiv observed two large explosions Thursday evening several kilometers east of the city center.

The explosions came soon after talks between President Volodymyr Zelensky and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ended in the Ukrainian capital.

“The enemy fired on Kyiv. There were two hits in the Shevchenkivskyi district. All services are working on the scene. Information about casualties is being clarified,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

Talks over the US's $33 billion Ukraine bill will take some time to play out, sources say

Democratic and GOP in the US sources said that there are many issues that need to be sorted out over the country’s Ukraine package — including drafting the legislative language — and the whole process will take weeks until there are final votes in both chambers.

The likely goal at this point is to pass this package before the Memorial Day recess. But there are added complications to sort out — namely what to do with the stalled Covid-19 aid.

A senior Democratic House aide said US President Joe Biden’s supplemental request still has a long road ahead in both chambers, “There will be bicameral, bipartisan talks on the supplemental request. Language must also be drafted. It is also unresolved which Chamber will work to advance the supplemental first. This will not be an instant process.”

In a sign of the potential roadblocks ahead, many Republicans are already signaling they need more information about Biden’s supplemental before they could commit to voting on it in the Senate.  

Republicans are still going through the President’s supplemental for Ukraine, but Sen. Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he has concerns about a provision in the package that authorizes International Monetary Fund (IMF) to spend roughly $20 billion. It’s not new money. This money has previously been appropriated, but it had not been authorized. It is an issue that Republicans and Democrats have been fighting about for months and Republicans say Biden slipped in this package. 

It’s still early and Risch said many Republicans are still inclined to support the package, but he warned that Republicans want to take a few days to more carefully consider what is included. 

“I have to go through the details,” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said. “I don’t fixate as much on the amount. It’s more about what is it that you intend to provide to them? Is it what they need right now for the foreseeable future?” 

Another divide emerging is Republicans view the high price tag for the humanitarian aid as potentially being misdirected. Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana who traveled to Ukraine during the recess, told reporters that he believes the better place to spend the money is on military assistance. 

“The war crimes that are being committed as we speak won’t end until Ukraine wins this war. So while humanitarian aid is very important, the most important thing Ukrainians want is lethal aid to beat the Russians. I am not convinced the White House understands that,” Daines said. 

“I want to know what we are investing in. I want to make sure between lethal aid and humanitarian aid, it is actually getting where it’s supposed to go. The devil is in the details,” Ernst said.  

Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, said he’s comfortable with the package’s price tag. 

“We need to send a strong signal that we intend for Ukraine to win this war against Vladimir Putin’s illegal war crimes,” Wicker said. 

While members on both sides recognize there is an urgency to pass this legislation quickly, the mechanics of how this gets through the House and Senate are still very much in flux with some Democrats still insisting money should be wrapped into one package with Covid-19 money that has been held up over Biden’s immigration policy on Title 42. 

“It needs to be done,” Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, said. 

Republicans, including whip John Thune, has already said adding Covid-19 funding to this bill is a nonstarter.

How Russian forces are trying to eradicate Ukrainian identity in Kherson

Russian forces occupying much of the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson are trying to extend their grip over the area and eradicate its Ukrainian identity.

They have made modest advances on the battlefield, with the Ukrainians acknowledging a loss of territory in the direction of Mykolaiv to the northwest.

In recent days the Russians have appointed their own officials to run Kherson, replacing elected Ukrainian officials. On Thursday one of those newly installed officials said Kherson would begin to use the ruble from next week and the Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia, would be replaced within four months.

Additionally, Russian television channels have taken the place of Ukrainian networks.

Now one of the Ukrainian representatives on Kherson’s regional council has accused the Russian forces of threatening educators.

Serhii Hlan said the message to principals from the occupiers had been simple: “Either give us the keys and documents, or we’ll send you ‘to rest’ in the basement.”

“This is what the occupiers are telling the school administration in Kakhovka,” he said.

The town of Kakhovka has seen several protests against the Russian military presence.

Hlan said the Russians were demanding all school equipment be surrendered. 

“The Russians are simply destroying Ukrainian education, threatening employees, and intimidating principals. In total, they plan to leave two schools in the city [open], what the fate of others will be is unknown,” the official noted.

“The workers are scared. They did not leave, remained in the occupied territories, guarded the school property,” he added.

It's 8 p.m. in Kyiv. Catch up on the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visits Bucha, Ukraine on Thursday April 28.

The bodies of 1,150 civilians have been recovered in Ukraine’s Kyiv region since Russia’s invasion started, Kyiv regional police chief Andriy Nebyton said Wednesday.

Nebyton emphasized that “these were civilians, not military, who had no involvement with Territorial Defense or other military entities.”

The majority of casualties are from the Bucha region and Bucha leads in the number of bodies they have found, Nebyton said, adding that “50-70% died of firearm wounds, shot with automatic rifles.”

If you’re just joining us, here’s a look at other key updates about the invasion and the global