April 3, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Simone McCarthy, Steve George, Sana Noor Haq, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 2:12 PM ET, Mon April 4, 2022
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3:18 p.m. ET, April 3, 2022

European leaders condemn images from Bucha and call for investigation of Russian military

A Ukrainian soldier patrols a street in the town of Bucha in an armored vehicle on April 2.
A Ukrainian soldier patrols a street in the town of Bucha in an armored vehicle on April 2. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

The bodies of at least 20 civilian men were found strewn across a street in the town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the area, according to disturbing images released by AFP on Saturday.

European leaders have condemned the alleged atrocities and called for an investigation into the Russian military. The Russian Ministry of Defense denied the allegations on Sunday.

Here's a look at how leaders from around the continent are reacting:

UK: Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Sunday accused Russian forces of committing "appalling acts" in the Ukrainian towns of Bucha and Irpin and demanded that they be investigated as war crimes.

“As Russian troops are forced into retreat, we are seeing increasing evidence of appalling acts by the invading forces in towns such as Irpin and Bucha," Truss said in a statement on Sunday. 

Their indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians during Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine must be investigated as war crimes," Truss added.

Truss stressed that Russia should not be allowed to "cover up their involvement in these atrocities through cynical disinformation," adding that the UK will play its part in ensuring this doesn't occur. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also released a statement on Sunday condemning the events in Ukraine.

“Russia’s despicable attacks against innocent civilians in Irpin and Bucha are yet more evidence that Putin and his army are committing war crimes in Ukraine," the statement said.

“No denial or disinformation from the Kremlin can hide what we all know to be the truth – Putin is desperate, his invasion is failing, and Ukraine’s resolve has never been stronger," the leader added.

"I will do everything in my power to starve Putin’s war machine. We are stepping up our sanctions and military support, as well as bolstering our humanitarian support package to help those in need on the ground," the statement said.

Truss committed the UK's full support to "any investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its role as the primary institution with the mandate to investigate and prosecute war crimes." On March 24, the UK offered the ICC an additional £1 million funding to assist efforts to investigate Russian war crimes.

Last week, the Attorney General for England and Wales Suella Braverman offered the assistance of top UK lawyer Howard Morrison QC to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General.

She said in a statement that he would "provide independent and expert legal advice to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova in relation to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine."

European Union: Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, tweeted on Sunday: "Appalled by reports of unspeakable horrors in areas from which Russia is withdrawing. An independent investigation is urgently needed."

“Perpetrators of war crimes will be held accountable," she continued.

European Parliament chief Roberta Metsola, who became the first leader of a European Union institution to visit Ukraine since the Russian invasion began when she paid a visit to Kyiv on Friday, said the images from Bucha and other liberated areas in Ukraine show the "cold reality of Putin's war crimes."

In a tweet Sunday, Metsola said she was "appalled" by the "atrocities of Russian army in Bucha & other liberated areas" and stressed that the world must be made "aware of what is happening" in Ukraine and "tougher sanctions must be imposed" on Russia in retaliation. 

"The perpetrators & their commanders must be brought to justice," she concluded. 

Germany: German chancellor Olaf Scholz called the Bucha images “terrible and horrifying" and said the perpetrators must be held accountable.

"We must relentlessly investigate these crimes committed by the Russian military. I demand that international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross be given access to these areas in order to independently document the atrocities. The perpetrators and those who commissioned them must be held consistently accountable," Scholz said.

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, meanwhile, said the images coming out of the Ukrainian town of Bucha were “unbearable.”

Baerbock tweeted on Sunday that “Putin's unrestrained violence wipes out innocent families and knows no boundaries," and called for those responsible for “war crimes” to be held accountable.

“We will tighten the sanctions against Russia, and will support Ukraine even more with their defense,” she tweeted.

France: French President Emmanuel Macron also called the images of Bucha "unbearable."

“The images that reach us from Bucha, a liberated city near Kyiv, are unbearable. In the streets, hundreds of civilians were cowardly murdered. My compassion for the victims, my solidarity with the Ukrainians," Macron said in a tweet.

"The Russian authorities will have to answer for these crimes,” he added.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that if what he called “massive abuses” in Bucha, Ukraine turn out to be war crimes, those responsible will be “tried and convicted.”

“The strongest possible economic and international pressure must be maintained and reinforced on Russia to force the Russian authorities to put an end to the war of aggression that they launched on February 24 against Ukraine, the human cost and humanitarian impact of which are becoming more serious every day," Le Drian said in a statement Sunday afternoon.

Italy: Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy on Sunday condemned Russia's alleged violence against civilians in Bucha.

“The images of the crimes committed in Bucha and in the other areas liberated by the Ukrainian army leave us astonished," he said in a statement released by his press office.

“The cruelty of the massacres of unarmed civilians is frightening and unbearable. The Russian authorities must immediately cease hostilities, stop the violence against civilians, and must account for what has happened," he added.

Spain: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez expressed “horror, pain, and outrage” after seeing images of civilians killed in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, in a tweet on his official account on Sunday.

The war crimes that are being committed cannot go unpunished,” Sánchez said. “All our solidarity, help and support to the Ukrainian people.”

CNN's Nathan Hodge, Max Foster, James Frater, Stephanie Halasz, Niamh Kennedy, Nicola Ruotolo and Amy Cassidy contributed reporting to this post.

2:34 p.m. ET, April 3, 2022

UN secretary general: "Independent investigation" into civilians killed in Bucha is "essential"

From CNN staff

The top UN official said an "independent investigation" into the civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine, is "essential" to ensure "effective accountability."

"I am deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine," UN Secretary General António Guterres said in a statement Sunday.

"It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability," he continued.

1:09 p.m. ET, April 3, 2022

Regional military governor: 14 taken to hospital and 1 dead in shelling of Mykolaiv

From CNN's Kareem Khadder in Mykolaiv

Vitalii Kim, the regional military governor of Mykolaiv region, said a total of 14 people were taken to the hospital following the shelling of the city of Mykolaiv. 

"On the shelling of the city: 14 were taken to the hospital. 11 hospitalized, among them a child of 15 years with injuries of moderate severity. surgery tomorrow," he said on Telegram. "One died, not saved." 

It was not clear from the statement if the person who died was among those delivered to the hospital.

3:12 p.m. ET, April 3, 2022

Here's what a CNN team on the scene of a mass grave in the Ukrainian town of Bucha saw 

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen, Vasco Cotovio, Daria Markina and Byron Blunt in Bucha

People stand near a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine on April 3.
People stand near a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine on April 3. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

A mass grave has been discovered in the town of Bucha, in the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, a CNN team found. 

Bodies were first buried in the grave, on the grounds of the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints, in the first days of the war, residents told CNN.

CNN saw at least a dozen bodies in body bags pilled inside the grave. Some were already partially covered. 

According to residents, more bodies are already buried on site. They said they belong mostly to civilians killed in the fighting around Bucha.

Residents told CNN that around 150 people are buried there. 

The mayor of Bucha said in public remarks on Saturday that there could be up to 300 victims buried on site.

CNN was unable to independently verify those numbers or the identities and nationalities of those buried in the grave.

The earth on the church grounds appeared to have been recently moved so it is feasible that a larger number of bodies is buried there. 

Bucha has seen some of the heaviest fighting since the war started. 

Destroyed Russian vehicles line the streets and most houses have been damaged in some way, with a large portion of the buildings there completely destroyed.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen, producer Vasco Cotovio, producer Daria Markina and photojournalist Byron Blunt also saw people at the site of the mass grave crying and looking for the bodies of lost loved ones.

Listen to CNN's eyewitness account:

12:09 p.m. ET, April 3, 2022

Ukrainian city of Chernihiv mostly destroyed, mayor says

From CNN staff

A man rides his bicycle near damaged residential buildings in Chernihiv, Ukraine on March 4.
A man rides his bicycle near damaged residential buildings in Chernihiv, Ukraine on March 4. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

The northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv is about 70% destroyed following an assault by Russian troops, Vladyslav Atroshenko, the city’s mayor, said Sunday.

The “consequences” of the attack by Russia in Chernihiv are “severe,” similar to the aftermath in other badly damaged cities and towns like Bucha, where bodies of civilians were found in the streets, as well as in Kharkiv and Mariupol, he said. 

The most urgent issues facing residents is a “concentration of Russian troops on the Belarusian border,” and concerns the city will be hit with more missiles and air bombs, Atroshenko added.

“Russians move around Ukraine like at home. And the fact that they left does not mean that they will not come back tomorrow. It takes about an hour and a half for them to get to us ... Today we can say it is quiet, there is cleaning, there is demining," he said.

A city market is damaged in Chernihiv, Ukraine, on March 30.
A city market is damaged in Chernihiv, Ukraine, on March 30. (AP)

1:20 p.m. ET, April 3, 2022

Ukrainian president reacts to images from Bucha: "This is genocide" 

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Anastasia Graham Yooll in London

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday, April 2.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday, April 2. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

"This is genocide," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday, speaking after images emerged of civilian bodies strewn across the streets of Bucha, northwest of the capital of Kyiv, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the area.

When asked during an appearance on CBS News' "Face the Nation" program if Russia is carrying out genocide in Ukraine, Zelensky replied: "Indeed. This is genocide."

 "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," he continued. 

Ukraine doesn't want to be "subdued to the policy of the Russian Federation," Zelensky said, adding that this "is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated."

"This is happening in the Europe of the 21st century. So, this is the torture of the whole nation," the president stressed to viewers. 

The alleged atrocities in Bucha have drawn international outrage, with Western leaders calling for war crimes investigations and fresh sanctions on Russia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the State Department would help document any atrocities the Russian military committed against Ukrainian civilians. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the deaths of civilians in Bucha a “brutality" and said “I strongly welcome” an investigation by International Criminal Court, which has opened an investigation into war crimes in Ukraine.

Russia's response: The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed the extensive footage was "fake," saying "not a single local resident suffered from any violent actions," during Russia's occupation of Bucha. "In the settlements of the Kiev region, Russian military personnel delivered and issued 452 tons of humanitarian aid to civilians," it said in a statement.

A separate statement claimed the footage was staged. "Stories about Bucha appeared in several foreign media outlets at once, which looks like a planned media campaign," the statement said. "Taking into account that the troops left the city on March 30, where was the footage for four days? Their absence only confirms the fake."

The Russian government has consistently responded to allegations of civilian casualties inflicted by Russian forces with blanket denials. After the Russian air force bombed a maternity hospital on March 9, Russian officials attempted to cast doubt on widespread media reports, with one Russian diplomat accusing a victim of the bombing — a woman who escaped from the bombing, bloodied and still pregnant — of being an actor and not a real victim.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm the details around the men's deaths. CNN had requested comment from the Russian defense ministry regarding allegations of the execution of civilians in the Kyiv region and other parts of Ukraine.

CNN's Nathan Hodge, Chandelis Duster and Jeremy Herb contributed reporting to this post.

11:30 a.m. ET, April 3, 2022

State Department spokesperson suggests US will take additional actions against Russia "very soon"

From CNN's Sarah Fortinsky

US State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during a news conference on March 10, in Washington, DC.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during a news conference on March 10, in Washington, DC. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

State Department spokesperson Ned Price hinted at additional US action against Russia coming “very soon” when asked about Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky's request for greater G7 sanctions in response to the latest atrocities in Bucha.  

"When it comes to our sanctions, we've always said that we will continue applying pressure on President Putin, on the Kremlin, on all of those around him including oligarchs and cronies who are empowering this war of choice against Ukraine, until and unless the Kremlin deescalates, until and unless the violence diminishes, and until and unless these kinds of atrocities come to an end. So I suspect you will very soon see additional pressure applied,” Price told MSNBC Sunday. 

"When it comes to these images out of Bucha, we have already assessed that Russia's forces have committed war crimes. What we're doing, we are collecting information. One, to shine a spotlight on precisely what they're doing, but two, to ensure that all of those who have perpetrated these atrocities and all of those who ordered these atrocities are held to account. That's our mission," he continued.

Shocking images came to light from Bucha, Ukraine Saturday by Agence France-Presse of at least 20 civilian men dead and lining a single street. The photos were released the same day Ukraine declared the town liberated from Russian troops. Accounts of alleged Russian atrocities are emerging as its forces retreat from areas near Kyiv following a failed bid to encircle the capital.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm the details around the men's deaths and has requested comment from the Russian defense ministry regarding allegations of the execution of civilians in the Kyiv region and other parts of Ukraine.

Asked about peace talks, Price said, "We have not seen any indication yet that the Russians are truly serious about deescalating this war." 

Price also dismissed reports that the Russian ruble is recovering from the sanctions, saying, "This is almost entirely artificial. The ruble is on life support with draconian measures that the Kremlin has been forced to take to artificially prop up the value of the ruble.”

Price noted that the government is preventing Russians and others from selling rubles “precisely to establish this floor and ensuring that the value we see reflected on the market isn't actually the actual worth of the ruble today.”

“When it comes to the Russian economy, 30 years of economic integration have been undone in the past five weeks alone,” Price said.

11:21 a.m. ET, April 3, 2022

US will provide $50 million to Moldova to assist with Ukrainian refugees

From CNN's Richard Roth

Ukrainian refugees cross the border into Moldova on March 30.
Ukrainian refugees cross the border into Moldova on March 30. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images)

The US will provide $50 million to help Moldova assist with the impacts of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, including supporting programs training and equipment for border management, and efforts to counter human trafficking, according to a news release.

The US mission said the funding will also provide assistance “to improve accountability and transparency in the justice sector, and combat corruption and cybercrime,” the release said.

“Today, I was able to see firsthand the way your government and the Moldovan people have come together to embrace Ukrainian refugees — most of them women and children — who have been forced to leave behind everything they have and people they love to flee to safety,” UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at a joint news conference with the Moldovan prime minister.

“You have welcomed them with open arms. And for this, your hospitality and generosity are now known around the world. I want you to know that, in all your efforts, you have a committed partner in the United States. We know that this assistance will go far in your hands,” she continued.

The US funding will also support “key lines of effort of the Moldova Support Conference, taking place April 5 in Berlin, to advance international support for Moldova's resilience and reform agenda,” the US mission said. 

According to the US mission, more than $178 million has been provided inside Ukraine, and over $123 million has been given to neighboring countries and the EU to support humanitarian efforts and the host of millions of refugees.

10:30 a.m. ET, April 3, 2022

NATO chief warns attacks in Ukraine will continue: This is not a "real withdrawal of Russian forces"

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks with CNN on Sunday.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks with CNN on Sunday. (CNN)

This is not a "real withdrawal of Russian forces," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, warning that attacks in Ukraine will continue.  

"What we see is not a real withdrawal. But we see that Russia is repositioning its troops and they are taking some of them back to rearm them, to reinforce them, to resupply them. We should not in a way be too optimistic because the attacks will continue," Stoltenberg told CNN's Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash on Sunday. 

Stoltenberg was speaking in the wake of reports from the Ukrainian government Saturday that the entire Kyiv region had been "liberated" from Russian forces. "Irpin, Bucha, Gostomel and the whole Kyiv region was liberated from the invader," Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said in a Facebook post. 

CNN has not confirmed that the entire Kyiv region has been cleared of Russian troops by Ukrainian forces, but the Ukrainian military has in recent days regained control of suburbs around the capital, which has remained under government control. The Russian military has said it is "de-escalating" around Kyiv. 

NATO is also "also concerned about potential increased attacks especially in the in the south and in the east," the alliance's chief said. 

"So, this is not a real withdrawal but more a shift in the in the in strategy. Focusing more on the on the south and east," he added. 

CNN's Nathan Hodge contributed reporting to this post.