April 16, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Brad Lendon, Ivana Kottasová, Sana Noor Haq, Joe Ruiz, Adrienne Vogt and Ray Sanchez, CNN

Updated 12:40 a.m. ET, April 17, 2022
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12:40 a.m. ET, April 16, 2022

Zelensky tells CNN world should be prepared for possibility Putin could use nuclear weapons

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

(CNN)
(CNN)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN Friday that "all of the countries of the world" should be prepared for the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use tactical nuclear weapons in his war on Ukraine.

Zelensky told CNN's Jake Tapper in an exclusive interview from the office of the president in Kyiv on Friday that Putin could turn to either nuclear or chemical weapons because he does not value the lives of the people of Ukraine.

"Not only me — all of the world, all of the countries have to be worried because it can be not real information, but it can be truth," Zelensky said, speaking in English.

"Chemical weapons, they should do it, they could do it, for them the life of the people, nothing. That's why," Zelensky said. "We should think not be afraid, not be afraid but be ready. But that is not a question for Ukraine, not only for Ukraine but for all the world, I think."

Zelensky has remained in Ukraine throughout the course of the 50-day war with Russia, as Ukraine's forces have resisted the Kremlin's attempts to seize Kyiv and forced Russia to refocus its war efforts on the eastern and southern regions of the country, where Ukraine is anticipating a significant escalation in fighting in the days to come.

One of Russia's most important naval warships sunk in the Black Sea this week, which Ukraine said was the result of a missile strike, while Russia claimed it was due to a fire from the detonation of ammunition.

At the same time, Russia is firing cruise missiles into the outskirts of Kyiv and still maintains the ability to target Ukraine's capital with long-range weaponry.

US officials have warned about the possibility that Putin, if backed into a corner, could turn to the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. CIA Director Bill Burns said Thursday that the CIA watches "very intently" over the possibility, while emphasizing that the US has not yet seen any signs that Russia is preparing to take such a step.

"Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they've faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low yield nuclear weapons," he said in public remarks at Georgia Tech.

Watch a clip of the interview here.

You can see more of the interview on "The Lead" at 4 p.m. ET and the full interview will run on Sunday at 9 a.m. ET on "State of the Union."

9:42 a.m. ET, April 16, 2022

US assesses two Ukrainian missiles struck Russian warship

From CNN's Barbara Starr 

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)

Two Ukrainian Neptune missiles hit the Moskva — Russia’s flagship in the Black Sea — earlier this week, a senior defense official said Friday.

A more detailed assessment from an American official said that the strike and subsequent sinking of the ship was the result of a Ukrainian missile.

CNN reported yesterday the US believed with “medium confidence” that Ukraine’s version of events regarding a missile strike on the warship — which Moscow has disputed — was accurate, according to a source familiar with the intelligence.

12:40 a.m. ET, April 16, 2022

More than 900 bodies of Ukrainian civilians discovered in Kyiv region since Russian withdrawal, police say

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam 

Workers exhume two bodies from graves in the village of Vablia, Kyiv region on April 14.
Workers exhume two bodies from graves in the village of Vablia, Kyiv region on April 14. (Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 900 bodies of civilians have been discovered since the Russian army withdrew from the area, the head of the Kyiv regional police said during a briefing on Friday. 

Andrii Niebytov said the bodies were examined and transferred to forensic medical institutions for detailed examination. 

Niebytov also said that the bodies of some people in the village of Shevchenko ​had been identified, adding that "they were ordinary locals, unfortunately also tortured, and we see that they were shot." 

Niebytov said some of the people that were shot had white armbands on them to try to protect themselves from Russian forces.

"During the occupation of our cities, the occupiers forced citizens to wear white armbands as if this person had already been checked and was therefore not treated so meticulously. Therefore, in order to save their lives, our citizens wore these bandages themselves to protect themselves from gunshots," he said.  

He said that wearing white armbands did not always work, "even if they hung white rags on the fences of their apartments," adding that there were also children who were living in those apartments.

9:42 a.m. ET, April 16, 2022

What the sinking of the Moskva could mean for the Russian war effort

Analysis from CNN's Brad Lendon

The Russian guided-missile cruiser Moskva sails back to the port of Sevastopol, Crimea on November 16, 2021.
The Russian guided-missile cruiser Moskva sails back to the port of Sevastopol, Crimea on November 16, 2021. (Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters)

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

Ukraine claims that it hit Moskva with missiles, causing it to sink. Russia has insisted the reason for the sinking was a fire. On Friday, the United States supported Ukraine's account, with a senior defense official saying that it believes that two Ukrainian Neptune missiles hit the Russian warship in the Black Sea.

But what does the loss of the Moskva 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. Though Moscow carefully manages news about the war in Russia, it will be hard to hide the sudden absence of such a large ship.

And its loss will raise doubts about Russia's warfighting abilities, whether it was due to enemy action or accident.

"Both explanations for the sinking of the Moskva indicate possible Russian deficiencies -- either poor air defenses or incredibly lax safety procedures and damage control on the Black Sea Fleet's flagship," analysts Mason Clark, Kateryna Stepanenko and George Barros at the Institute for the Study of War wrote in their daily war briefing.

Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain, said the doubts went all the way to the Kremlin.

"It raises questions about naval competence 10 years after (Russian President Vladimir) Putin announced he was going to restore the navy's capabilities, morale and professionalism," Schuster said.

"It seems he has not been able to keep any of his promises for any of Russia's military services," Schuster said, noting Russia had suffered setbacks on land too.

But analysts are split on what impact the sinking will have on the Russian invasion.

The ISW analysts see it as a relatively minor blow, saying the ship was mostly used for cruise missile strikes on Ukrainian logistic centers and airfields. Russia has land-based systems and strike aircraft that can do the same thing, they said.

However, they added that if it was indeed a Ukrainian missile that led to the sinking, the Russian navy would have to rethink its operations, possibly moving ships farther from Ukrainian territory and adjusting their air defenses.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the Moskva's main mission was air defense for the Russian forces in the Black Sea.

"It will have an impact on that capability, certainly in the near term," Kirby told reporters.

Read more about the ship's sinking here.