April 18, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya, Maureen Chowdhury, Travis Caldwell, Helen Regan, Jack Guy and George Ramsay, CNN

Updated 12:29 AM ET, Tue April 19, 2022
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7:18 a.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Control over city of Kreminna "lost" amid heavy fighting

From CNN's Nathan Hodge and Tim Lister

Control over the city of Kreminna has been "lost," according to Serhii Haidai, the head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, as Russian forces try to break Ukrainian resistance in the country's east.

"At the moment, control over the city of Kreminna is lost" and heavy fighting continues, Haidai said on Telegram.

As residents tried to flee in their own vehicles, Russian forces opened fire on a car carrying civilians, said Haidai.

"Four people died. One seriously injured person is still at the scene," he said.

"Doctors cannot reach her due to endless shelling."

Russian forces have been trying to advance toward the borders of both Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbas region. Russia's focus has shifted to the east since its failure to gain territory around the capital Kyiv, and other parts of the center and north of the country.

Earlier Monday, Russian forces entered the town with "a huge amount of equipment," said Haidai, claiming that "the offensive has begun."

4:49 a.m. ET, April 18, 2022

More people are entering Ukraine from Poland than those going the other way

From CNN’s Lauren Kent in Przemysl, Poland

Ihor, center left, welcomes Lyudmila who has returned from neighboring Poland as they stand on a platform at the Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi train station, in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on April 17.
Ihor, center left, welcomes Lyudmila who has returned from neighboring Poland as they stand on a platform at the Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi train station, in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on April 17. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

More people entered Ukraine from Poland on Friday and Saturday than the number of people who crossed the border the other way, according to the Polish Border Guard, in a first since Russia launched its invasion on February 24.

The Polish border agency recorded 22,000 people crossing into Ukraine from Poland on Saturday, with 19,200 people traveling the other way. 

On Friday the agency recorded 25,100 people entering Ukraine, and 24,400 people traveling into Poland. 

Some of those entering and exiting Ukraine are aid workers who cross the border frequently.

“We are Ukraine's neighbors not only literally, but also in the sense of the common history and understanding of the situation,” Polish President Andrej Duda said Wednesday. 

Some context: Over 2.7 million refugees have fled to Poland from Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion, the most of any country. 

As the focus of Russia’s war has shifted to eastern Ukraine, some of those who fled to Poland and other neighboring countries have returned to areas regained by Ukrainian forces.

4:27 a.m. ET, April 18, 2022

"Street fights" as Russians enter Kreminna in eastern Luhansk, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Lviv and Tim Lister

Russian forces have entered Kreminna, a town in the eastern Luhansk region that has been bombarded for weeks as Russian forces push westwards in Donbas, a senior Ukrainian official said.

"The Russians entered Kreminna. Street fights began," said Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, in a brief Facebook post early Monday.

The Russians had entered the town with "a huge amount of equipment," he said.

The offensive has begun," he said.

The Russians have been trying to break Ukrainian resistance in Kreminna and a string of towns and cities in Luhansk as they try to advance towards the borders of both the Luhansk and Donetsk regions — the declared goal of President Vladimir Putin's "special military mission."

Evacuation was now impossible, Haidai said.

"We planned the evacuation, literally along forest paths, so that the people would not come under fire. But overnight the situation changed. While fighting [has broken out] in the city, it is unrealistic to count the civilians who remain there," Haidai said.

Haidai said the Olympus sports facility in Kreminna was "burning down" and that fire was now covering an area of 2,400 square meters.

"Rescuers are working hard as there is a forest near the center," he said.

Haidai said that elsewhere in the region two people had been killed and four injured in Zolote, while seven people had been recovered from the rubble of a building destroyed in Rubizhne. 

On Sunday evening, Russian forces fired at a police building in Lysychansk, Haidai said, injuring six policemen.

The shelling continues, he said.

7:03 a.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Lviv mayor: Tire facility hit in strikes

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv

Firefighters battle a blaze after a civilian building was hit by a Russian missile on April 18, in Lviv, Ukraine.
Firefighters battle a blaze after a civilian building was hit by a Russian missile on April 18, in Lviv, Ukraine. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Russian missile strikes on the city of Lviv hit a tire repair facility, destroying or damaging 40 cars, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said Monday on Telegram.

Citing preliminary information, Sadovyi said six people were dead and 11 injured, including one child, in a number of strikes on the city.

The blast wave shattered windows in a nearby hotel where internally displaced Ukrainians who evacuated from fighting were housed, Sadovyi said.

4:36 a.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Six dead, eight injured in Lviv strikes, regional governor says

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv

Smoke rises after missile strikes hit Lviv, Ukraine, on April 18.
Smoke rises after missile strikes hit Lviv, Ukraine, on April 18. (Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Six people were killed and eight injured, including one child, in Russian missile strikes on the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Monday, according to Maksym Kozytskyy, the head of the Lviv regional military administration.

"According to information from the Air Operations Command West, four missile strikes on Lviv were carried out today," Kozytskyy said on Telegram.
"Three were directed at military infrastructure. One hit a tire repair shop."

Fires have broken out and firefighting efforts were underway, Kozytskyy said, adding that details were still being gathered.

Some context: The city's Mayor Andrii Sadovyi had previously said there were five missile strikes on the city and a CNN team heard five explosions.

8:28 a.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Pope cried over children killed in Russian invasion, Ukrainian lawmaker says

From CNN's Travis Caldwell

Pope Francis leaves at the end of the Catholic Easter Sunday mass he led in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday, April 17.
Pope Francis leaves at the end of the Catholic Easter Sunday mass he led in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday, April 17. (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

A member of Ukraine's parliament who met Pope Francis this weekend said the pontiff was overcome with emotion when told about the children who had died during Russia's invasion.

Maria Mezentseva, who is in Rome as part of a Ukrainian delegation, told CNN she personally informed the Pope "about the number of casualties among children."

"He started crying, simply, it touched him so much,” she said.

Mezentseva also said the delegation received a "positive signal" about the possibility of Pope Francis visiting Ukraine.

Some context: At least 191 children have been killed since the start of the Russian invasion, Ukrainian prosecutors said last week, and nearly 350 children have been injured.

Calls for peace: Pope Francis on Sunday said the world was marking an “Easter of war,” and called for peace in Ukraine, which he said has been dragged into a “cruel and senseless war.” 

“We have seen all too much blood, all too much violence. Our hearts, too, have been filled with fear and anguish,” the Pope said while delivering his annual Easter blessing.

Among the 100,000 people attending the Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square were several Ukrainian politicians, including Ivan Fedorov, the elected mayor of the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol who was detained by Russian forces last month and accused of terrorism offenses.

8:28 a.m. ET, April 18, 2022

2 injured, railway infrastructure destroyed as missiles hit Dnipro, governor says

From CNN's Nathan Hodge and Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv

Two missiles hit the city of Dnipro in east-central Ukraine on Monday, the region's military governor said.

Valentyn Reznichenko, head of Dnipro's regional military administration, said on Telegram that the districts of Synelnykiv and Pavlograd had both been hit by what he termed "morning arrivals."

"Two people were injured in Synelnykiv district. The missile hit an infrastructure facility. Rescuers put out the fire," he said.

No casualties were reported in Pavlograd, Reznichenko said, but railway infrastructure had been destroyed.

Some context: Dnipro was hit by Russian missile strikes earlier in the war, when its airport was damaged. A missile strike in March put the runway out of use and damaged a terminal building, according to Reznichenko, and another strike on April 10 wiped out more of the airport.

Lesia Vasylenko, a Ukrainian MP, said the April 10 strike had destroyed "everything around the airport."

8:11 a.m. ET, April 18, 2022

"No safe places left": Governor urges evacuation in Luhansk

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Nathan Hodge in Lviv

People walk in front of a building after it was hit by shelling in Lysychansk in the Luhansk region, Ukraine, on Saturday, April 16.
People walk in front of a building after it was hit by shelling in Lysychansk in the Luhansk region, Ukraine, on Saturday, April 16. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

The head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration on Monday urged civilians to evacuate, saying there were "no safe places left" in the eastern Ukrainian region.  

Evacuate now, we can still save you," Serhii Haidai said on Telegram.

Evacuations would be carried out Monday from Popasna, Rubizhne, Hirske, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, Haidai said, even if no official evacuation routes were agreed with Russian forces.

"We will proceed with evacuation no matter what," he said. "We will take people with us from places we can get to. It is already very difficult to leave Rubizhne, Popasna, Hirske. To date, there are no safe places left in the region."

Haidai's comments come after attempts to agree safe evacuation routes for civilians trapped in fighting in southern and eastern Ukraine on Sunday failed, but local officials urged people to leave the area nevertheless.

While some Luhansk residents had previously felt relatively safe in some districts of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, the situation had "grown worse," he said.

"Russian shelling is everywhere. Evacuate now, we can still save you. Do not [wait until] there is no safe way out of the area. Buses are waiting for you on April 18. Gather your things and come. Ukraine needs you alive!"

Some context: Extensive damage to civilian infrastructure was noted over the weekend following Russian strikes in the region. Haidai said in one day the Russians had damaged 10 infrastructure facilities and partially or completely destroyed another 26 buildings.

On Sunday, Russian shelling hit a church in the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, according to Haidai. 

2:32 a.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Lviv residents urged to take shelter after missile strikes

From CNN's Nathan Hodge and Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv

Residents in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv have been urged to take shelter after a series of missile strikes on Monday.

The region's military governor Maksym Kozytskyy said there had been four missile strikes, though the city's mayor had previously said there were five and a CNN team heard five explosions.

Authorities are still clarifying the details, Mayor Andrii Sadovyi said.