April 12, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Travis Caldwell, Jessie Yeung, Matias Grez and Jeevan Ravindran, CNN

Updated 4:58 p.m. ET, April 21, 2022
60 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
8:21 p.m. ET, April 12, 2022

Zelensky says it's unclear whether chemical weapons were used in Mariupol

From CNN’s Mariya Knight and Mitchell McCluskey

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he cannot say with certainty if chemical weapons were used in the besieged city of Mariupol.

“We take with great attention yesterday's reports on the use of munitions with a poisonous substance in Mariupol against the defenders of the city. It is not yet possible to draw 100% conclusions about what kind of substance it was,” Zelensky said in a video address on Tuesday. "It is clear that it is impossible to conduct a full investigation and full analysis in the blocked city."

Zelensky warned other leaders to pay attention to the possibility of chemical weapons put in use.

“However, given the repeated threats of Russian propagandists to use chemical weapons against the defenders of Mariupol and its repeated use by the Russian army, such as phosphorus munitions in Ukraine, the world must respond now,” he cautioned. "React preventively. Because after the use of weapons of mass destruction, any response will not change anything. And it will only look like a humiliation for the democratic world."

More context: Reports that chemical weapons were used in Mariupol have not yet been confirmed by the United States, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in an interview with CNN Monday.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States could not confirm the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine but noted that they “had credible information that Russian forces may use a variety of riot control agents."

CNN cannot independently verify that there has been any kind of chemical strike in Mariupol. CNN teams on the ground have so far not seen evidence of such an attack, or any imagery from Mariupol sources to verify this.

8:19 p.m. ET, April 12, 2022

Zelensky proposes prisoner swap with detained Putin ally

From CNN’s Mariya Knight and Mitchell McCluskey

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a video broadcast on Tuesday April 12.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a video broadcast on Tuesday April 12. (Ukrainian Government)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky proposed swapping detained pro-Russian Ukrainian politician and oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk for captured Ukrainian prisoners of war.

“I propose to the Russian Federation to exchange 'your guy' for our boys and our girls who are now in Russian captivity. It is therefore important that our law enforcement and military also consider this possibility,” Zelensky said in a video address on Tuesday.

Zelensky also warned Russia that Ukrainian forces would capture more soldiers.

"We will establish the full truth about all these savages. No matter how much time and effort it takes, we will find them all. Let Medvedchuk be an example for you,” Zelensky said.

"Even the former oligarch did not escape. What to say about much ordinary criminals from the Russian middle of nowhere. We will get everyone."

Medvedchuk was detained in a "special operation," Zelensky announced Tuesday.

7:47 p.m. ET, April 12, 2022

Zelensky thanks Biden for using the word "genocide" to describe the Russian invasion of Ukraine

From CNN’s Abby Baggini and Elise Garofalo

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked US President Joe Biden in a tweet on Tuesday for using the word "genocide" to describe the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"True words of a true leader," Zelensky tweeted. "Calling things by their names is essential to stand up to evil. We are grateful for US assistance provided so far and we urgently need more heavy weapons to prevent further Russian atrocities."

Biden first used the word during a speech earlier Tuesday. In previous remarks, he had stopped short of calling what is underway in Ukraine a genocide.

"Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away," he said at an event in Iowa.

Biden then reiterated his statement later in the day, telling reporters that "it’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out even the idea of being Ukrainian.”

“And the evidence is mounting, it’s different than it was last week, the more evidence that’s coming out,” he continued. “Literally the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine, and we’re going to only learn more and more about the devastation — and we’ll let the lawyers decide internationally it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me.”

Zelensky accused Russia of committing genocide last week after a significant number of civilian bodies were uncovered in Bucha following the withdrawal of Russian troops.

"Indeed. This is genocide," Zelensky said in an interview with CBS News' "Face the Nation" on April 3. "The elimination of the whole nation, and the people. We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities."

Other world leaders, such as the UK's Boris Johnson and Poland's Andrzej Duda, have also used the word "genocide" to describe Russian actions in Ukraine.

See Zelensky's tweet:

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed reporting to this post.

7:26 p.m. ET, April 12, 2022

Sources: US expected to announce hundreds of millions of dollars in new military assistance to Ukraine soon

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Jim Sciutto and Oren Liebermann

US President Joe Biden speaks at the POET Bioprocessing in Menlo, Iowa.on Tuesday, April 12.
US President Joe Biden speaks at the POET Bioprocessing in Menlo, Iowa.on Tuesday, April 12. (Kelsey Kremer/The Register/USAToday Network)

The US is expected to announce it is sending hundreds of millions of dollars in new military assistance to Ukraine soon, according to two sources familiar with the package.

The final amount had not been finalized as of Tuesday but is expected to be close to $700 million.

US President Joe Biden is expected to use his drawdown authority to authorize the new aid package for Ukraine.

If approved, the addition of approximately $700 million in security assistance would bring the total aid to Ukraine to more than $3 billion since the start of the Biden administration, including nearly $2.5 billion since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine's 2020 defense budget was only about $6 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. In less than two months, the US has provided nearly half of that in security assistance, underscoring the pace at which the White House has worked to send in weaponry and equipment.

Reuters first reported on the new security assistance package.

You can read more about the military assistance here.

1:09 p.m. ET, April 13, 2022

Biden says it's "become clearer" that Putin is committing "genocide" in Ukraine

From CNN's DJ Judd

US President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media prior to boarding Air Force One in Des Moines, Iowa on April 12.
US President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media prior to boarding Air Force One in Des Moines, Iowa on April 12. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden reiterated his assessment that Russia has committed genocide in Ukraine, telling reporters gathered on the tarmac in Des Moines, "I called it genocide because it's become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian.”

“And the evidence is mounting, it’s different than it was last week, the more evidence that’s coming out,” he continued, “Literally the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine, and we’re going to only learn more and more about the devastation — and we’ll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me.”

Earlier Tuesday, in remarks from Menlo, Iowa, the President first cited the possibility Russia had committed genocide, in remarks on rising gas prices.

"Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away," he said.

Biden has previously stopped short of calling what is underway in Ukraine a genocide. His aides have said it doesn't yet rise to the level.

"We have seen atrocities, we have seen war crimes, we have not yet seen a level of systematic deprivation of life of the Ukrainian people to rise to the level of genocide," national security adviser Jake Sullivan said earlier this month.

4:58 p.m. ET, April 21, 2022

France has frozen more than $25 billion worth of Russian assets, French Finance Ministry says

From CNN's Simon Bouvier

People walk past the Central Bank headquarters in Moscow in this 2019 file photo.
People walk past the Central Bank headquarters in Moscow in this 2019 file photo. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

On Tuesday, France's Finance Ministry published a detailed list of Russian assets worth 23.7 billion euros — or $25.6 billion USD — which it has frozen since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Assets belonging to the Russian Central Bank, which the ministry says are worth 22.8 billion euros, make up the bulk of the frozen assets.

The list of assets also includes 33 real estate properties with a combined acquisition value of 573.6 million euros, including a number of addresses in Antibes, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, and Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera, and 178 million euros in frozen banking assets were also listed, along with three yachts worth more than 125 million euros, six helicopters worth more than 60 million euros, and three works of art worth 7 million euros.

Correction: A previous version of this post overstated the value of seized bank assets and yachts.

6:32 p.m. ET, April 12, 2022

 International chemical weapons watchdog "concerned" by unconfirmed reports of chemical weapon use in Mariupol

From CNN's Jorge Engels and Nathan Hodge

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the Howard University Founders Library in Washington on Tuesday, April 12.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the Howard University Founders Library in Washington on Tuesday, April 12. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AP)

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Tuesday in a statement it is “concerned by the recent unconfirmed report of chemical weapons use” in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol that emerged Monday.

“All 193 OPCW Member States, including the Russian Federation and Ukraine, are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention,” said the OPCW in a statement. “In doing so, they have solemnly and voluntarily committed never to develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, transfer or use chemical weapons.”

“The use of chemical weapons anywhere by anyone under any circumstances is reprehensible and wholly contrary to the legal norms established by the international community against such use,” said the statement.

CNN cannot independently verify that there has been any kind of chemical strike in Mariupol. CNN teams on the ground have so far not seen evidence of such an attack, or any imagery from Mariupol sources to verify this.

On Monday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned the possibility should be taken seriously, though a Mariupol official said any such attack remained unconfirmed. 

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States could not confirm the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine but noted that they “had credible information that Russian forces may use a variety of riot control agents."

The US had previously warned the Ukrainians that Russia could use chemical agents in the southeastern Ukrainian city, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in an interview with CNN Monday.

6:04 p.m. ET, April 12, 2022

Ukrainian military reports 5-hour battle in central Zaporizhzhia region as forces try to liberate area

From CNN's Tim Lister and Mariya Knight

The Ukrainian military has reported heavy fighting in the central region of Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday. 

The Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration said a five-hour battle took place in the Polohy district as Ukrainian forces tried to liberate the area.

After units of the region's territorial defense brigade occupied part of the district, Russian reinforcements forced them to withdraw, according to Col. Ivan Arefyev, spokesperson for the military administration.

Polohy is northeast of the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, where Arefyev said Russian troops continued to "use terrorist methods to intimidate the local population and persuade them to their side."

Arefyev alleged the Russians were forcing businesses "to give part of their income in exchange for a work permit. Similar actions are taking place in the Berdiansk district of the region."

Berdiansk is on the coast, some 50 miles (about 80 kilometers) west of Mariupol.

Ukrainian authorities have accused the Russians of repeatedly blocking humanitarian convoys in the same region, at Vasylivka.

Russian forces in the south have made more significant territorial gains than elsewhere in Ukraine, holding Melitopol and Kherson despite Ukrainian counter-attacks in the area. From there, they have pushed northwards.

5:29 p.m. ET, April 12, 2022

OSCE will publish findings of investigation into human rights abuses in Russian war tomorrow 

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Wednesday will publish the findings of its investigation into human rights abuses and atrocities committed in the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine, according to the spokesperson for the US Mission to the OSCE.

It is unclear what the findings of the report will be at this point.

The report is the product of a weeks-long fact-finding mission led by three experts chosen by Ukraine from an OSCE list of experts. That investigation was triggered after 45 countries invoked a rare OSCE mechanism —the Moscow Mechanism — that is used to investigate human rights concerns

The report was shared with OSCE members on Tuesday and with Ukraine last week, the spokesperson said. 

Michael Carpenter, US ambassador to the OSCE, will brief the press following a special Permanent Council meeting on Wednesday.

According to the OSCE, the aim of the expert mission was to “establish the facts and circumstances surrounding possible contraventions of OSCE commitments, and violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law” and “establish the facts and circumstances of possible cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including due to deliberate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure; and to collect, consolidate, and analyze this information with a view to presenting it to relevant accountability mechanisms, as well as national, regional, or international courts or tribunals that have, or may in future have, jurisdiction.”

More context: The OSCE does not have the authority to legally punish Russia if it finds evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but their facts can be given to other bodies that do have that authority.

The Moscow Mechanism, which was used to launch the fact-finding mission, is a serious step, and according to the OSCE, it has been triggered only nine other times since its establishment in 1991. It was most recently used in 2020 to investigate human rights abuses in Belarus.

Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus are all members of the OSCE.