April 19, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury, Andrew Raine, Travis Caldwell, George Ramsay and Jack Bantock, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, April 20, 2022
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4:06 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Ukrainian forces have repelled "numerous" Russian attempted advances in Donbas, UK defense intelligence says  

From CNN’s Mia Alberti and Sugam Pokharel 

Ukrainian forces have repelled "numerous attempted advances" by Russian forces on the Donbas line of control as Moscow’s shelling and attacks in the area "continue to increase” on Tuesday, according to the latest British defense intelligence update.

"Russia's ability to progress continues to be impacted by the environmental, logistical and technical challenges that have beset them so far, combined with the resilience of the highly-motivated Ukrainian armed forces,” the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted

Russian forces have not been able to "stamp out resistance" in Mariupol, despite several "indiscriminate" attacks, which is "indicative of their failure to achieve their aims as quickly as they would like," it added.

3:57 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Pentagon: Ukraine has gotten additional aircraft and aircraft parts to increase their fleet size

From CNN's Michael Conte

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby 
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby  ( Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Ukraine has received additional fighter aircraft from other countries not including the US, as well as additional aircraft parts to allow them to get more planes in the air, according to a Defense Department spokesperson.

"I would just say, without getting into what other nations are providing, that they have received additional platforms and parts to be able to increase their fleet size, their aircraft fleet size. I think I’d leave it at that," said Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.

More context: A White House official told CNN Saturday that shipments from the Biden administration’s latest security assistance package to Ukraine “have begun arriving,”

US President Joe Biden last week approved an additional package of $800 million worth of weapons, ammunition, and security assistance to Ukraine.

The US has, for the first time, agreed to provide Kyiv with the types of high-power capabilities some Biden administration officials a few short weeks ago viewed as too great of an escalation risk, including 11 Mi-17 helicopters; 18 155 mm Howitzer cannons[ and 300 more Switchblade drones.

6:51 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Ukrainians dismiss claim made by Russian defense ministry of opening evacuation corridors around Azovstal

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Nathan Hodge in Lviv

The Russian Ministry of Defense issued a statement Tuesday claiming that Russian forces had opened an evacuation corridor around the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, a claim dismissed by a Ukrainian police official on the scene.

“Given the catastrophic situation that has developed at the Azovstal metallurgical plant in the city of Mariupol, and also guided by purely humane principles, from 14:00 (2:00 p.m. Moscow time) on April 19, 2022, the Russian Armed Forces opened a humanitarian corridor for the withdrawal of Ukrainian military personnel who voluntarily laid down their arms and militants of nationalist formations," the statement read. "For this purpose, a 'ceasefire mode' has been introduced, any hostilities have been stopped, units of the Russian Armed Forces and the formations of the Donetsk People’s Republic along the entire perimeter of Azovstal have been withdrawn to a safe distance."

The statement also repeated a call for Ukrainian forces to surrender. "Realizing that the commanders of Ukrainian units may not receive such orders and commands from Kyiv authorities, we urge them to make the decision on their own and lay down their arms," it said.

Myhailo Vershynin, chief of the Mariupol Patrol Police, called the Russian conditions "unacceptable" the Ukrainian forces holding out in the plant. 

"No one will agree to them," he said. "Exits, corridors, etc., they have already announced this a thousand times." 

Vershynin said the Azovstal plant, where Ukrainian defenders are holding out and civilians are sheltering, was being hit with "super-powerful bombs. And this will continue." 

Video of women and children, purportedly sheltering in the basement of the Azovstal plant in the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol, emerged Monday evening on social media. Vershynin said the Russians had allowed some civilians to leave, but others were reluctant to exit the city via evacuation routes that led into Russian-controlled territory. 

"Those who remained in [Azovstal] shelters are people who categorically do not want to go to the DPR [the separatist Donetsk People's Republic], they want to go to Ukraine," Vershynin said.

"That is why we are requesting: Organise a corridor, the safety of the civilians must be guaranteed. The Russians believe it's fake. It's not fake. This is a real video filmed in the shelters of the plant. We cannot go to all the shelters due to constant shelling. We have filmed in a shelter that we could reach. And there are hundreds of such people all over the territory. They [the Russians] are declaring humanitarian corridors, a ceasefire. They say, come out, surrender, get the civilians out of here. Those civilians who wanted to leave, have left. Those who stayed they will not go to the Russians. That is why we are asking for a humanitarian corridor to Ukrainian side," Vershynin said.

Russia claims evacuation corridors will be opened Wednesday: Later on Tuesday evening, the Russian Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying it was offering Ukrainian forces encircled in the besieged city of Mariupol a ceasefire effective Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. Moscow time (7:00 a.m. ET), claiming that Ukrainian forces had failed to take advantage of a previous offer to withdraw and lay down arms. 

The Russian statement said Russian armed forces and separatist Donetsk People's Republic formations would at that time cease combat operations along the entire perimeter of the besieged Azovstal steel factory and withdraw to a safe distance.

CNN's Josh Pennington contributed reporting to this post.

3:50 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Russia's invasion of Ukraine will continue to "take its toll" on the global economy, Biden says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden hit the road Tuesday, touting his domestic accomplishments in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as he acknowledged 40-year high inflation. He pointed to the economic disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as he warned the ongoing war would continue to “take its toll” on the global economy.

“Look, we’ve made a lot of progress and we have an incredible opportunity ahead of us but we know that families are still struggling with higher prices,” he said in remarks at the Port Authority of New Hampshire. 

Biden cast blame directly on Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “big reason for inflation.”

“The invasion of Ukraine has driven up gas prices and food prices all over the world. The two major breadbaskets of wheat in the world are Ukraine and Russia ... What we saw in the most recent inflation data was last month about 70% of the increase in inflation was a consequence of Putin's price hike, because of the impact on gas and energy prices,” he said.

Biden added that he was doing everything he could to drive down prices, pointing to the release of gas from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves and his coordination with US allies and partners, prompting applause.

“The fact is that we are in a situation where the war in Ukraine is going to continue to take its toll on the world economy. It’s going to take its toll on energy. It’s going to take its toll relative to food … An awful lot of people are hurting. It makes a big difference, it makes a big difference, the cost of a dozen eggs, the cost of a gallon of gasoline, it matters,” Biden said.

“We’re going to build this economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” the President continued.

3:50 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

British and Kurdish leaders discuss exporting energy to help reduce Europe's reliance on Russian oil and gas

From CNN’s Alex Hardie and Sugam Pokharel 

rime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street on Tuesday, April 19.
rime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street on Tuesday, April 19. (Daniel Leal/Pool/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the British and Kurdish leaders held a meeting in London where the two leaders discussed exporting energy to Europe as a way to reduce its reliance on Russian oil and gas, according to a UK government statement. 

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street, and the Kurdish leader “spoke about his aspiration to export energy to Europe” and Johnson “lauded his efforts to help reduce Western reliance on Russian oil and gas.”

The pair also discussed Johnson’s recent visit to Kyiv and “the need for the international community to continue to push back against Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” the statement added.  

Johnson expressed his “enduring commitment to Iraqi stability and the counter-Daesh operations across the Middle East,” Downing Street said.

“The leaders highlighted the strength of their relationship, recognizing the UK’s deep ties with the Kurdish people. They noted the significant opportunities for greater partnerships across trade and investment,” the statement continued.

3:21 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

US defense secretary will meet with Polish and Czech counterparts at Pentagon to discuss war in Ukraine

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will meet with his Polish and Czech counterparts in separate bilateral meetings at the Pentagon on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Ukraine will be a focus in both meetings, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said during a briefing at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

Austin will meet with his Polish counterpart, National Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, at the Pentagon on Wednesday. He will meet with his Czech counterpart, Defence Minister Jana Černochová, at the Pentagon on Thursday. 

Both bilateral meetings will be focused "not only on our relationships with these individual countries but of course what’s going on in Ukraine," Kirby said.

2:49 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Germany will continue to provide military aid to Ukraine but through arms manufacturers, chancellor says

From Inke Kappeler in Berlin and Sugam Pokharel in Atlanta 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz issues a statement following a virtual meeting with world leaders at the Chancellery on Tuesday, April 19, in Berlin.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz issues a statement following a virtual meeting with world leaders at the Chancellery on Tuesday, April 19, in Berlin. (Clemens Bilan/Pool/Getty Images)

Germany has exhausted the weapons it can provide to Ukraine from its stocks, but will work with private military equipment makers to help Kyiv with its requirements, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday. 

“We intend to pay for these deliveries,” Scholz told a news conference in Berlin.

“Weapons with substantial impact” have already been delivered to Ukraine, he said, adding that Germany will help work with arms manufacturers to provide Kyiv anti-tank and air defense weapons.  

“We are ready to make things possible (for Ukraine),” he added.  

On Friday, Scholz said his government will boost the country's military assistance spending in 2022 to $2.16 billion, of which a large share of which will go to Ukraine.

Scholz has been criticized by his coalition partners and the opposition for his "indecision" and "lack of leadership" in the face of the Ukrainian demands for heavy weaponries to combat the Russian aggression. 

The German chancellor said he agrees with the assessment of Ukraine’s allies that “Russia may not win this war.”

He called on Moscow to “stop the bombardment of the Ukrainian cities and enable a ceasefire immediately.”

“Withdraw your soldiers from Ukraine and conduct serious negotiations with Ukraine. Stop this horrible war,” Scholz demanded. 

2:41 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

Large-scale NATO cyber drill begins as Russian hacking threats loom 

From CNN's Sean Lyngaas

The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) seen here in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2015.
The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) seen here in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2015. (Maurizio Gambarini/picture alliance/Getty Images)

NATO’s annual large-scale drill for cyberattacks began Tuesday, with participants from 32 countries practicing fending off hacks against critical infrastructure like power plants and air defense systems. 

The exercise mirrors “real life attack scenarios based on cyber-attacks seen over the past 30 years,” Ian West, chief of the NATO Cyber Security Centre, told CNN in an email.

The mock hacking incident will charge participants with “maintaining and ensuring the availability of essential capabilities such as a water plant, power plant, air defence system, financial systems, etc.”

Nearly 2,000 participants from 32 countries will participate in cyber defense exercise known as Locked Shields, according to the US-based Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a threat-sharing hub for big banks that is leading a portion of the drill. 

The drill was planned months in advance and does not directly incorporate cyber threats stemming from Russia’s war in Ukraine, West said. But the war, and suspected Russian and Belarusian cyber activity tied to it, is impossible to ignore. 

More background: As Russia’s invasion began in late February, suspected Belarusian hackers attempted to breach the email accounts of European government officials “involved in managing the logistics of refugees fleeing Ukraine,” according to cybersecurity firm Proofpoint, which discovered the incident.

Around that time, unidentified attackers targeted Ukrainian government contractors with a presence in Latvia and Lithuania, two NATO members, with malicious code that wiped computer systems, according to researchers at Broadcom Software. 

Locked Shields, which debuted in 2010 and is run out of NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Estonia, reflects the alliance’s increasing emphasis on cyberspace as a domain of multilateral defense. 

Though Russia invaded Ukraine to prevent it from one day joining NATO, the bloc’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence voted days after Russia’s invasion to admit Ukraine as a “contributing participant” to the cybersecurity research and training hub. 

“Ukraine could bring valuable first-hand knowledge of several adversaries within the cyber domain to be used for research, exercises and training,” said Col Jaak Tarien, CCDCOE’s director, in a apparent nod to years of Russian cyberattacks aimed at Ukraine. 

2:07 p.m. ET, April 19, 2022

World Bank and IMF chiefs to meet with Ukrainian prime minister and finance minister Thursday

From CNN’s Livvy Doherty in London

The heads of World Bank and International Monetary Fund will meet with Ukraine’s prime minister and finance minister on Thursday to discuss further aid.

“We’re going to have an important meeting on Thursday, where we’ll talk with Ukraine’s prime minister and the finance minister. Some of the countries that are supporting Ukraine will be there, and we hope to both be providing assistance as they try to survive the battles,” World Bank President David Malpass said during a panel with IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva who will also be in attendance on Thursday’s meeting.

He used hospital workers as an example of assistance, and also said that the meeting will look at how a rebuilding phase for Ukraine could be done “most effectively.”

IMF’s Georgieva said she had spoken to President Volodymyr Zelensky over the weekend about “reconstructing” Ukraine but also about keeping the economy functioning whilst the war was still happening.

She said there was a “duty” to support Ukraine during the next couple of months and doing so would require more financial aid than had already been given.

“We have provided $1.4bn in emergency financing, but more would be necessary, and it would be a great investment over the next couple of months to keep the economy functioning and prevent inflation shooting up,” she said.