April 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Amy Woodyatt, Ben Church, Melissa Macaya, Jason Kurtz and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, April 9, 2022
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2:58 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

EU gives Ukraine an "important step" to full membership of the bloc

From Amy Cassidy in London

The European Union on Friday gave Ukraine an “important step” towards membership of the bloc, with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen ceremoniously handing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a questionnaire to complete as part of the long-winded membership process.

“Ukraine belongs to the European family. We’ve heard your requests loud and clear. And today, we’re here to give you a first positive answer,” von der Leyen said speaking to reporters in Kyiv alongside Zelensky and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell.

“In this envelope, dear Volodymyr, there is an important step towards EU membership. The questionnaire that is in here is the basis for our discussion in the coming weeks. It is where your path towards Europe and the European Union begins.”

Von der Leyen said she hopes to be able to work closely with Zelesnky to complete the questionnaire within weeks.

Thanking her as he received the document, Zelesnky joked: “We’ll be ready with answers, Ursula, in one week”. 

The questionnaire is one of the many steps Ukraine would need to complete to reach full EU membership.

2:55 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

US State Department: Railway strike another example of Russia's war "sowing senseless death and destruction"

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Riuki Gakio

The Kramatorsk train station is seen from the broken window of a train car on April 8.
The Kramatorsk train station is seen from the broken window of a train car on April 8. (Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

The US State Department condemned the Russian strike on a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk.

“I want to express our deep condolences to the families of those killed or injured and to the people of Ukraine who continue to suffer terribly from the Russian government's unprovoked unjustified and brutal war,” State Department principal deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said Friday.

“We are horrified by this latest atrocity but we can no longer be surprised by the Kremlin's repugnant disregard for human lives,” she said.

“This is just yet another example of the Russian government's unjustified brutal war sowing senseless death and destruction in Ukraine and unravelling the fabric of normal life on schools, on homes, on hospitals and on workplaces. Civilians are killed when they stay in their homes and they are killed when they try to leave," she said.

Porter said such actions “demonstrate why Russia does not belong on the UN Human Rights Council and they also reinforce the US's assessment that members of Russian forces are committing war crimes in Ukraine.”

 

2:35 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

US seeing indications Russia is looking to recruit "upwards of 60,000 troops," defense official says

From CNN's Michael Conte, Barbara Starr and Jamie Crawford

The US has seen indications that Russia is looking to recruit “upwards of 60,000 troops” between new conscripts and mobilizing reservists to reinforce their invasion forces, according to a senior US defense official.

The official cautioned that “it remains to be seen” how successful Russia would be in meeting that target, how much training those forces would get, or where they would be sent. 

The official also said the US has not seen that there are “fresh reinforcements, fully trained, fully armed” ready to reinforce depleted Russian battalion tactical groups.

With regards to their current ability, Russia is now “below 85% of their assessed available combat power” that Moscow had amassed prior to the invasion of Ukraine in February, a senior US defense official said Friday during a briefing with reporters.

“Of the assessed available combat power that they had available to them before the invasion that they had arrayed against Ukraine for this purpose, of the total assessed combat power that they had we estimate that they are between 80 and 85% of what they had,” the official said which takes into account a variety of factors from the number of tanks, fighter aircraft, missile inventory, as well as troops.

The official would not put a specific number on the total number of Russian troops that have been killed to date in the Ukraine operation.

“The aggregate tells us they are under 85% of their assessed available combat power when they started this invasion,” the official said.

The US also believes the Russian military has not solved “their logistics and sustainment problems,” include those problems that existed outside Ukraine, according to a senior US defense official.

The official said those problems mean that they will be unlikely to be able to reinforce their forces in the eastern part of Ukraine “with any great speed.”

“We don’t believe that in general this is going to be a speedy process for them, given the kinds of casualties they’ve taken and the kind of damage that they’ve sustained to their units’ readiness,” said the official. 

3:21 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Ukraine officials: Russian troops have completed withdrawal from Sumy region

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva

A resident walks next to buildings damaged by shelling in the town of Trostianets, in Sumy region, Ukraine on March 28.
A resident walks next to buildings damaged by shelling in the town of Trostianets, in Sumy region, Ukraine on March 28. (Oleg Pereverzev/Reuters)

On Friday, the General Staff of Ukraine said stated that Russian forces have completed their withdrawal from Ukraine's northern Sumy region, while continuing a buildup of forces in the country's east.

"The Russian occupiers completely withdrew their troops from the Sumy region to the Russian Federation," a General Staff statement on Facebook read.

Russia's military announced previously it was withdrawing from northern Ukraine and around Kyiv to concentrate efforts in the eastern Donbas region.

The General Staff statement also noted that Russian troops continued a buildup in the southern Zaporizhzhia and eastern Donetsk regions, and continued an offensive in the direction of Popasna and Severodonetsk, in the eastern Luhansk region.

1:35 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

World leaders condemn Kramatorsk railway strike

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Benjamin Brown 

Ukrainian soldiers move bodies after a rocket attack at a train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine on April 8.
Ukrainian soldiers move bodies after a rocket attack at a train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine on April 8. (Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

The European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Josep Borrell, has strongly condemned a rocket strike on a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, which killed around 30 people and wounded about 100 on Friday, according to officials.

"I strongly condemn this morning’s indiscriminate attack against a train station in #Kramatorsk by Russia, which killed dozens of people and left many more wounded," Borrell said on his official Twitter account Friday. 
"This is yet another attempt to close escape routes for those fleeing this unjustified war and cause human suffering."

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Friday she is "appalled" by the "despicable" missile attack on the railway station.

Borrell and von der Leyen will be meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Friday.

French President Emmanuel Macron called the strike “abominable” in a tweet posted Friday.

“Ukrainian civilians were fleeing to escape the worst. Their weapons? Strollers, stuffed toys, luggage. This morning, at the Kramatorsk train station, the families who were about to leave experienced horror,” Macron said. “Dozens dead, hundreds injured. Abominable."

The French president expressed his condolences to the victims of the strike in Kramatorsk and to victims from past attacks, namely Bucha, Mariupol and Kharkiv. He also called for investigations. 

Macron reiterated that the European Union will continue to provide humanitarian, military and financial supports to Ukraine. 

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has responded to the deadly attack on the Kramatorsk railway station in Ukraine, calling the strike on civilians “completely unacceptable”. At least 50 people were killed in the missile strike on a train station, according to Ukrainian authorities. 

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the strike "completely unacceptable" in a statement Friday.

"They are gross violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, for which the perpetrators must be held accountable," he said, reminding "all parties of their obligations under international law to protect civilians and of the urgency to agree on humanitarian ceasefires in order to enable the safe evacuation of and humanitarian access to populations trapped in conflict.” 

The statement added that the secretary general reiterates his appeal to all concerned “to bring an immediate end to this brutal war.”

European Council President Charles Michel also condemned the strike.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Friday she is "appalled" by the rocket strike.

"The targeting of civilians is a war crime. We will hold Russia and Putin to account," Truss said on her official Twitter account.

CNN’s Xiaofei Xu and Camille Knight in Paris contributed to this reporting.

1:58 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Germany should be able to end Russian oil imports "this year," chancellor says

From CNN's Benjamin Brown

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a press conference on April 8 in London, England.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a press conference on April 8 in London, England. (Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he thinks thinks Germany will be able to stop importing Russian oil "this year," he said Friday.

Speaking at a press conference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to London, Scholz said Germany was "actively working" on becoming independent from Russian oil imports. The German chancellor said he believed Germany would be able to end imports this year but added it would take Germany longer to wean itself off Russian gas.

Ending Russian energy imports required investment and infrastructure, Scholz said, adding that Germany had prepared steps to become independent from Russian energy imports "before the war began because we knew that this problem would come up."

1:29 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

164 bodies have been found in Bucha, Ukrainian prosecutor general says

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen looks at bodies pulled from a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine, on Friday, April 8.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen looks at bodies pulled from a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine, on Friday, April 8. (Rodrigo Abd/AP)

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktovae revealed on Friday that 164 bodies have been found in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where a massacre of civilians was uncovered following the withdrawal of Russian troops.

"As of yesterday (April 7), 164 dead have been found in Bucha," she said in televised remarks. "Plus today 21 that we exhumated from the mass grave before heavy rain started."

Venedyktova said 26 bodies had been retrieved yesterday from under the rubble of a collapsed building in another Kyiv suburb, Borodianka, and that two more bodies had been recovered Friday. She warned that more bodies were likely to be found in destroyed buildings in the town.

1:56 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

Odesa is under curfew due to threat of Russian missile strikes

From Nathan Hodge in Lviv

People walk in downtown Odesa, Ukraine on April 5.
People walk in downtown Odesa, Ukraine on April 5. (Oleksandr Gimanov/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian authorities in the southern region of Odesa have imposed a curfew for the next day and a half following deadly Russian missile strikes on a train station in the east on Friday.

Due to the threat of Russian forces launching missile strikes in the province, residents have been told to stay home from 9 p.m. local time Friday until 6 a.m. local time Sunday morning.

During the curfew it will be prohibited to be out on the streets or in public places without special permissions, the Odesa Regional State Administration said in a statement.

“I appeal to Odessa residents and residents of the region to understand the restrictions imposed and not to violate them. Such measures are necessary, first of all, for your safety, which will save your life, because the consequences can be fatal," the Head of Odessa Regional Military Administration Maxim Marchenko said.

1:50 p.m. ET, April 8, 2022

EU Commission chief warns Hungary: If you pay in rubles, you violate EU sanctions

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons and Arnaud Siad

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, right, speaks with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview on Friday.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, right, speaks with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview on Friday. (CNN)

Hungary will be breaking EU sanctions if they make good on their promise to pay for Russian energy in rubles, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has told CNN.

“We did an analysis of the decree of Putin, and the legal case is very clear. What Putin is suggesting – this transforming euros into rubles and then paying the gas bill — it would be a breach of sanctions. If you do that, pay in rubles, you breach the sanctions, you circumvent the sanctions we put on Russia,” EU Commission President von der Leyen told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview on Friday. 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had indicated that his country would be willing to pay for Russian gas in rubles after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree demanding that ‘unfriendly countries’ will be required to pay for gas in the currency. 

The EU were in discussions with Budapest, Von der Leyen told CNN.

“So far Hungary has stuck to the sanctions, so until we don’t see the opposite, it’s fine. Never before have we seen the European Union so united, so determined, so fast. And I think for each of our member states, also a question, do I want to be the first one to break that unity? I think no,” she said.