April 15, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Travis Caldwell, Helen Regan, Sana Noor Haq, Jack Bantock, Laura Smith-Spark, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:08 AM ET, Sat April 16, 2022
13 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
5:10 a.m. ET, April 15, 2022

It's 12 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN Staff

The Russian warship Moskva is seen docked in Sevastopol, Crimea in this satellite image from April 7.
The Russian warship Moskva is seen docked in Sevastopol, Crimea in this satellite image from April 7. (Maxar Technologies)

Note: This post contains graphic imagery.

Conflicting reports have emerged from Russian and Ukrainian officials on why a flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, sank on Thursday.

Meanwhile, diplomatic relations between Russia and Japan continue to deteriorate amid tensions over the war in Ukraine.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Moskva sinking: After a key Russian warship, the Moskva, sank off the coast of Ukraine in the Black Sea on Thursday, opposing reports emerged about the cause. Russia's Defense Ministry said a fire of unknown origin detonated the ship's stored ammunition and caused explosions, which resulted in structural damage. The vessel then sank as it was being towed amid rough seas, the Russians said. However, Ukraine said it hit the Moskva with anti-ship cruise missiles and that these sparked the fire that detonated the ammunition. Either way, the fall of the Moskva could knock Russian morale -- considering the ship was one of its most visible assets in the Ukraine war.
  • Diplomatic relations falter: Japan and Russia have been increasingly at odds since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with the latter withdrawing from peace treaty talks in Japan last month, and freezing joint economic projects because of sanctions imposed by Tokyo over the invasion. In what could be another blow to diplomatic relations between the two countries, Tokyo “conveyed its concerns” to Moscow over cruise missile tests conducted by Russia in the Sea of Japan, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said in a news conference on Friday.
  • CNN reporters recount witnessing atrocities in Ukraine: Indiscriminate killings of civilians attempting to flee the violence. Victims found with their hands tied behind their backs. An attack on a maternity hospital, a theater turned shelter bombed. The list of atrocities and apparent war crimes allegedly committed by Russian troops in Ukraine gets longer by the day. Russia has denied allegations of war crimes and claims its forces do not target civilians. But CNN journalists on the ground in Ukraine have seen firsthand evidence of atrocities at multiple locations across the country.
  • Buildup in the east: Russian troops continue to prepare for an offensive operation in the east, training additional units and gathering aviation power, according to Ukraine's military. The first Russian troops that withdrew from northern Ukraine earlier this month have begun appearing in the northern Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, a senior US defense official said Thursday. Meanwhile, civilians are being evacuated from the region, which has seen weeks of shelling and fighting break out in towns.
  • Civilians fight on the front lines: A Ukrainian pastor and father of two, Oleg Magdych, is now serving as a volunteer battalion commander for 120 soldiers ranging in ages from 18 to their mid-70s. He shared with CNN that they are preparing for deployment to southern Ukraine after fighting on the front lines north of Kyiv, adding that most of the soldiers he's with were civilians before the war. “Eighty per cent of my units are people that have never held a gun in their hands in their lives. They're ordinary truck drivers, lawyers, you name it," Magdych said.
3:36 a.m. ET, April 15, 2022

Moskva sinking: What really happened to the pride of Russia's fleet?

From CNN's Brad Lendon

The Russian guided-missile cruiser Moskva rests deep beneath the Black Sea this morning.

Whether it lies there as the victim of Ukrainian missiles, Russian incompetence, bad luck or a combination of all three is unclear.

What caused the sinking? Russia's Defense Ministry says a fire of unknown origin detonated the ship's stored ammunition and the resulting explosions left the Moskva with structural damage. It says the warship then sank amid rough seas as it was being towed to a nearby port.

Ukraine says it hit the Moskva with anti-ship cruise missiles and that these sparked the fire that detonated the ammunition.

When was the last time a ship this size was lost in war? The Argentine cruiser General Belgrano was torpedoed and sunk by the British nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror on May 2, 1982, during the Falkland Islands war.

What does the loss mean for the Russian war effort? The biggest effect may be on Russian morale. As the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet, the Moskva was one of its most visible assets in the Ukraine war. The biggest wartime loss of a naval ship in 40 years will raise troubling questions not only for Moscow, but for military planners around the world.

Read more about the sinking of the Moskva:

8:45 a.m. ET, April 15, 2022

Ukrainian pastor trains civilians for war as a volunteer battalion leader

From CNN's Travis Caldwell

Oleg Magdych, Ukrainian Pastor & Volunteer Battalion Commander
Oleg Magdych, Ukrainian Pastor & Volunteer Battalion Commander (CNN)

A Ukrainian pastor and father of two is now serving as a volunteer battalion commander for 120 soldiers ranging in ages from 18 to their mid-70s. He shared with CNN they are preparing for deployment to southern Ukraine after fighting on the front lines north of Kyiv.

Oleg Magdych told CNN that most of the soldiers he's with were civilians before the war and went through a couple of weeks of intense training.

“Eighty percent of my units are people that have never held a gun in their hands in their lives. They're ordinary truck drivers, lawyers, you name it," Magdych said. 

He reported no injuries in his battalion in their latest engagement near Kyiv, and said many soldiers were quick to learn once the fighting started.

"For the first few days, they are trying to argue with me and trying to tell why they shouldn't be doing what I'm telling them to do, like digging trenches," Magdych said.
"But I'm telling you, after the first shelling, everybody wants to dig trenches."

Magdych credited his faith for keeping him going and praised his family for the work they are doing for others. His wife is in western Ukraine assisting internally displaced Ukrainians with food and lodging, he said, and is working with women and children to help provide psychological help.

“She is my hero. She didn't want to go to Europe. She decided to stay in Ukraine and wait for the victory there,” he said.

Their youngest son has joined the Territorial Defense Forces defending western Ukraine and “badly wants to be with me,” Magdych said.

“But I told him that he has a more important task. He has to take care of his mom. So, that's what he is doing at the moment.”

Some context: Russian forces have withdrawn from the northern parts of Ukraine and are focusing their efforts to the east and south. Ukrainian officials have warned of widespread shelling in eastern Ukraine as they say Russia prepares for an offensive operation.

Watch the interview:

2:00 a.m. ET, April 15, 2022

Japan "concerned" over Russia’s cruise missile tests in the Sea of Japan

From CNN’s Yuki Kurihara, Emi Jozuka and Mayumi Maruyama

Tokyo has “conveyed its concerns” to Moscow over cruise missile tests conducted by Russia in the Sea of Japan, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said in a press conference Friday.

Moscow is urged to “refrain from any actions that could increase tensions in Northeast Asia” in light of this situation, Hayashi said, and reemphasized that Japan “strongly condemns” Russia’s aggression against Ukraine as it “shakes the foundations of the international order."

Earlier that day, Japan’s Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi said Moscow is “aiming to show off its strength in the Far East region” and the “modernization of its naval power."

On Thursday, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said two submarines from its Pacific Fleet successfully test-fired Kalibr cruise missiles from an underwater position in the waters of the Sea of Japan, the ministry wrote in a post on its official Facebook page.

The cruise missiles successfully hit a mock enemy, the ministry said, and that more than 15 vessels from the fleet took part in the drill.

Russia's test launches were held while the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is conducting bilateral operations with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Sea of Japan.

Some context: The two nations have been increasingly at odds since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia withdrew from peace treaty talks with Japan last month and froze joint economic projects related to the disputed Kuril Islands because of sanctions imposed by Tokyo over the invasion.

9:53 a.m. ET, April 15, 2022

In Borodianka, a CNN reporter recounts seeing signs of torture

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio in Borodianka

Note: This post contains graphic imagery.

The worst thing I have seen since arriving in Kyiv nearly a month ago would have to be the body of a man we were shown in a backyard in Borodianka, northwest of Kyiv.

We were led to the site by the owner of the house, who had fled town in the first few days of war. She returned as the invading troops withdrew, only to find her home had been ransacked by Russian soldiers.

Behind her garden shed, she showed us a man, with a bag over his head, his hands tied behind his back and his trousers pulled down, exposing his underwear and heavily bruised leg.

He had a gunshot wound to the head, and a single bullet case was still lying next to his body.

He appeared to have been tortured and executed by Russian soldiers, although we do not know for sure what happened to him.

By this time, we had already seen the now infamous mass grave in Bucha, but the image of that man has stuck with me – I find the individual more relatable than the collective. It is easier to compartmentalize, to dissociate a group from the humanity they were robbed of.

Some context: Borodianka was home to 13,000 people before the war, but most fled after Russia’s invasion. What was left of the town, after intense shelling and devastating airstrikes, was then occupied by Russian forces, which moved in on Feb. 28. The town came back into Ukrainian control on April 1.

Read more about what CNN journalists have witnessed in Ukraine here:

12:21 a.m. ET, April 15, 2022

Donbas has been Ukraine's ravaged heartland for eight years. Here's why Putin wants it

From CNN's Rob Picheta

Donbas, a sprawling and beleaguered heartland region that blankets much of eastern Ukraine, has been the front line of the country's conflict with Russia since 2014.

But now its people, already scarred by eight years of fighting, are bracing for an assault even more intense. An impending battle for control of the territory is expected to define Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion, after his forces suffered costly failures in Kyiv, and across central and northern Ukraine.

Satellite images have shown Russian military convoys and resupplied units moving towards Donbas for a large-scale offensive, and Ukraine's foreign minister has warned the world of an impending battle there that will "remind you of the Second World War."

A Russian victory in the region would appall the West but could salvage Putin's war aims, while a defeat could cement his invasion as a historic failure.

Either way, it is almost certain to devastate yet more of the Donbas region, a historically and culturally significant place whose proximity to Russia has dictated much of its turbulent existence.

Read the full story:

12:00 a.m. ET, April 15, 2022

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

One of the Russian Navy's most important warships has sunk in the Black Sea, dealing a major blow to Russian forces as they congregate in the country's east in preparation of a renewed offensive. Meanwhile, Western partners are upping military aid to Ukraine, and bringing diplomatic staff back to the capital Kyiv.

Here are the latest developments on the war in Ukraine:

  • The Russian warship: The guided-missile cruiser, Moskva, has sunk in the Black Sea, Russian state media confirmed, citing the Russian defense ministry. Moskva is one of the Russian Navy's most important ships — analysts say it's comparable to the US Navy losing a battleship during World War II or an aircraft carrier today. Conflicting reports have emerged, with Ukraine claiming it hit Moskva with missiles, and Russia saying a fire broke out on board, causing munitions to explode and forcing the crew to evacuate.
  • Buildup in the east: Russian troops continue to prepare for an offensive operation in the east, training additional units and gathering aviation power, according to Ukraine's military. The first Russian troops that withdrew from northern Ukraine earlier this month have begun appearing in the northern Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, a senior US defense official said Thursday. Meanwhile, civilians are being evacuated from the region, which has seen weeks of shelling and fighting break out in towns.
  • ICC prosecutor visits Ukraine: The International Criminal Court chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, is in Ukraine investigating possible war crimes by Russia. After visiting Bucha, where mass graves and murdered civilians were discovered in early April after Russian forces withdrew, Khan said Ukraine was "a crime scene" and that "this is a moment that should wake everybody up."
  • Genocide resolution: Also on Thursday, Ukraine’s parliament adopted a resolution declaring the actions of the Russian forces in the country are “genocide." In a tweet, the parliament cited mass atrocities, willful killing of civilians and forcible transfer of children to Russian territory.
  • Aid workers killed: The UN humanitarian chief has called on all parties to provide safe passage of civilians out of the besieged port city of Mariupol after the news that two aid workers and their family members had been killed.
11:18 p.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Russian warship sinks days after Ukrainian commemorative stamp is issued

From CNN's Travis Caldwell

Ihor Smilianskyi CEO of the Ukrainian post holds the new postage stamp immortalizing the famous exchange on Snake Island between Russian and Ukrainian forces at the postal headquarters in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 14.
Ihor Smilianskyi CEO of the Ukrainian post holds the new postage stamp immortalizing the famous exchange on Snake Island between Russian and Ukrainian forces at the postal headquarters in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 14. (REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko)

The sinking of Russian guided-missile cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea comes days after Ukraine issued a stamp immortalizing the famous exchange on Snake Island between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

A Ukrainian presidential adviser confirmed on Thursday the Moskva was one of the vessels involved in the exchange in February.

The island was hit by Russian missile strikes after Ukrainian defenders responded to the threat of Russian invasion with the words: “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.”

The stamp: Ukrposhta, Ukraine's postal service, announced on Tuesday it had issued a postage stamp with the slogan. It shows a Ukrainian solider standing defiant, facing down a Russian warship in open water.

Roman Hrybov — the Ukrainian soldier who uttered the phrase — was invited to the ceremony unveiling the stamp, the service said in a statement.

Some context: It was initially believed the Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a subsequent attack, but were instead forced to surrender "due to the lack of ammunition," according to the Ukrainian navy. Hrybov was later released as part of a prisoner exchange.

The phrase has become a popular Ukrainian slogan during the invasion and used as a symbol of defiance.

"There would be neither postage stamp nor such strong resistance as exemplified by soldiers from Zmiinyi Island (Snake Island) without him," the statement read.

The warship: Conflicting accounts have emerged over the sinking of the warship, which was reported Thursday by Russian state news agency TASS.

Ukraine's Operational Command South claimed Thursday that the Moskva had begun to sink after it was hit by Neptune anti-ship missiles.

Russia claimed a fire broke out, causing munitions aboard to explode, inflicting serious damage to the vessel and forcing its crew to be evacuated.

CNN has not been able to independently verify what caused the damage to the ship.

Read more about the sinking:

11:14 p.m. ET, April 14, 2022

Russian warship Moskva sinks in Black Sea, Russian Ministry of Defense reported via state media

From Jorge Engels in London and Vasco Cotovio in Kyiv

The Russian guided missile cruiser Moskva is seen in Sevastopol, Crimea in this satellite image on April 7.
The Russian guided missile cruiser Moskva is seen in Sevastopol, Crimea in this satellite image on April 7. (Maxar Technologies)

The Russian warship Moskva has sunk, Russian state news agency TASS reported, citing a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense.

"During the towing of the cruiser Moskva to the port of destination, the ship lost its stability due to hull damage received during a fire from the detonation of ammunition. In the conditions of stormy seas, the ship sank," the statement said according to TASS. 

Conflicting accounts have emerged about an incident involving the warship in the Black Sea on Wednesday.

Russia said a fire broke out on the guided-missile cruiser, causing munitions aboard to explode, inflicting serious damage to the vessel, and forcing the crew of the warship to be evacuated. Ukraine says it hit the Moskva with anti-ship missiles and later claimed that she had been sunk.

CNN has not been able to independently verify what caused the damage to the ship. 

This is a developing story.