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April 1, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

What we covered

  • More than 6,000 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Friday, according to officials, but over 100,000 residents remain trapped in the besieged southern city of Mariupol, where local leaders say Russia is not allowing aid in.
  • Ukraine's President said Russian troops are "slowly but noticeably" moving out of the north of the country, adding preparations are underway for more potential Russian strikes in the Donbas region and Kharkiv.
  • A fire broke out at a fuel depot in Belgorod, a Russian city near the Ukrainian border, which the regional governor said was caused by an air strike from Ukrainian helicopters. CNN is unable to verify this claim. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense told CNN it had no information about the incident. 
  • Russia won't immediately cut off gas supplies under a new decree requiring payments in rubles, according to the Kremlin.
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11:37 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Zelensky: Sanctions against Russia are working but should be strengthened

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke in a taped interview with Fox News on Friday April 1. (From Fox News)

Sanctions against Russia are working but need to be strengthened, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a taped interview with Fox News on Friday.

“Sanctions definitely work, and Russia is definitely afraid of sanctions. It puts them out of comfort. It drops down their economy. But there’s a question of how sanctions are working. We are showing and telling the United States and European leaders, everybody must work together quickly,” Zelensky said.
“They must have an impact on the oligarchs, on the President of Russia and on all the parties and on the country in general. The United States should continue working on this if the US would like to have successful negotiations.”
Alleged helicopter attack: During the interview, Zelensky responded to Russian accusations that Ukraine mounted a helicopter attack on a fuel depot inside Russian territory Friday.
"I’m sorry I do not discuss any of my orders as commander in chief, the leader of this state. There are things which I only share with military armed forces of Ukraine and when they talk with me,” Zelensky said, when asked if he had ordered such an attack.
“You need to understand that on that territory that you mentioned they were placing their shooting systems and were firing missiles themselves.”
Some context: A huge fire broke out Friday at a fuel depot in Belgorod, a Russian city near the Ukrainian border — which Russia said was caused by an air strike from Ukrainian helicopters. CNN is so far unable to verify this claim and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry told CNN it has no information about the incident. 
No land-for-peace deal: Zelensky also said he would not be willing to trade Ukrainian territory in exchange for a peace deal with Russia.

“We do not trade our territory. So the question of territorial integrity and sovereignty is out of discussion,” Zelensky said.

9:54 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

US to provide $300 million more in security assistance to Ukraine. Here's what it includes

A U.S. Marine launches a Switchblade 300 10C system during a training exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California on Sept. 24, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alexis Moradian)

The United States will provide another $300 million in security assistance to Ukraine, the Pentagon announced Friday.

The new package means the US has now committed more than $2.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the start of the Biden administration, according to the statement from Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

The new package includes:
  • Switchblade suicide drones
  • Anti-drone systems
  • Armored vehicles
  • Night-vision equipment
  • Ammunition
  • And more
Not all requests fulfilled: Unlike presidential drawdowns, which pull from Defense Department stocks to provide to Ukraine, this package falls under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which means the weaponry and equipment will be procured from industry.

The new package comes as Ukraine has pushed for more advanced weaponry from the US and European nations. Much of the equipment provided to Ukraine fulfills those requests, but the US has not acquiesced to some of the biggest requests, such as aircraft.

The statement on security assistance is an unusual departure from past practice, in which the Pentagon and the administration have been discrete about the equipment provided. This time, the Pentagon laid out in some detail the systems and equipment that Ukraine will receive.

8:37 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Zelensky: Russian forces are "slowly but noticeably" moving out of northern Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a video address on Friday April 1. (Ukrainian Government/Facebook)

Russian troops are “slowly but noticeably” moving out of the north of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Friday.

“The occupiers are withdrawing forces in the north of our country. The withdrawal is slow but noticeable. Somewhere they are expelled with battles. Somewhere they leave positions on their own,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky also urged Ukrainians to remain cautious in the north as troops withdraw.

“We are moving forward. Moving carefully. And everyone who returns to this area must also be very careful. It is still impossible to return to normal life as it was. Even in the areas we return after the fighting. You will have to wait. Wait for our land to be cleared. Wait until you can be assured that new shelling is impossible,” he said.

In eastern Ukraine, Zelensky said preparations are underway for more Russian strikes in the Donbas region and the country's second-largest city, Kharkiv.
“In the east of our country, the situation remains extremely difficult. The Russian militaries are being accumulated in Donbas, in the Kharkiv direction. They are preparing for new powerful blows. We are preparing for even more active defense,” Zelensky said.
"Humanitarian catastrophe": Zelensky added that 6,266 people were rescued through evacuation corridors in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia on Friday.

Zelensky also commented on a conversation he had with French President Emmanuel Macron, in which they discussed the humanitarian situation in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol.

“Europe has no right to react in silence to what is happening in our Mariupol. The whole world must react to this humanitarian catastrophe,” Zelensky said. 
9:16 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Bodies seen on street in Bucha, where Ukrainians have retaken territory from retreating Russians

Volunteers inspect a body left on a street in Bucha, Ukraine on April 1. (Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters)

Bodies are seen laying in the street where they fell in Bucha, a city on the northwestern outskirts of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, in new video posted to social media.

CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the video, which was taken on Friday.

In the video, a number of bodies are seen in the street. It's unclear from the video whether the bodies are civilians or the military.

However, it’s clear from the video one of them was killed while riding a bicycle.

There's been roughly five weeks of near constant, intense firefights taking place in Bucha, which is just south of Hostomel, the site of the Antonov Airport. Russian forces stormed the airfield on the first day of the war and have recently abandoned it in their retreat from the greater Kyiv area.

7:27 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

President of European Parliament meets with Ukrainian President during "heroic" visit to Ukraine

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola are seen prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 1. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service)

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola traveled to Ukraine and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who called it a "heroic" visit.

Metsola, the first leader of an EU institution to visit Ukraine since the Russian invasion began, posted a picture of her shaking hands with Zelensky on Twitter Friday.

"Courage, strength, resolve. With Zelensky in Kyiv. Slava Ukraini!" Metsola captioned the photo. 

Her visit was welcomed by the Ukrainian leader who, in a speech posted to social media on Friday, called it an "important moment" for the country. 

"You demonstrate heroism because it's heroic to come to Ukraine at this time. Of course, we defend Ukraine because it's our country and our life but to come from abroad, it's a very important step of support of our people," Zelensky remarked.

Last month, the Prime Ministers of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic also traveled to Ukraine and reaffirmed their support for the country amid the ongoing Russian invasion during a meeting with Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in the capital of Kyiv. 

Speaking in an address to the Ukrainian parliament on Friday, Metsola said she had come "as a representative of the European Parliament" to tell Ukrainians one thing: "We are with you. In good times and in less good times — we are with you."

Metsola made three promises to Ukraine during her speech: To hold those "responsible accountable for what they have committed here," to take care of Ukrainian families forced to flee their homes and to support Ukraine's European Union aspirations. 

"The European Union recognizes Ukraine’s European ambitions and your aspirations to be a candidate country for accession. And I stand before all of you here to say, that you can count on me, you can count on the European Parliament in supporting Ukraine’s path in achieving this goal. We know what blood was spilt to get here. And we will not let you down," Metsola stressed. 

In his speech, Zelensky lamented the fact that he couldn't come and personally address the European Parliament due to "understandable circumstances," adding though that he thought that "voice of Ukraine is being heard today."

"I am glad that in our relationships there are no hierarchy, no pathetic emotions. You have come, and this is a very important signal, we are very grateful and will never forget," Zelensky concluded.

6:16 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

More than 6,000 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Friday, official says

Evacuees arrive on a bus at the registration center in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on April 1. (Emre Caylak/AFP/Getty Images)

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine's minister of reintegration of temporarily occupied territories, said 6,266 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Friday.

The update came via a statement, in which Vereshchuk noted that the figure includes 1,431 people who moved from the southern cities of Berdiansk and Melitopol — in their own vehicles — to the Ukrainian government-held city of Zaporizhzhia, via evacuation corridors.

Of that number, she said, 771 people originally came from the besieged city of Mariupol.

Meanwhile, said Vereshchuk, a separate convoy of 42 buses from the city of Berdiansk — carrying Mariupol residents — had passed a key Russian checkpoint and was en route to Zaporizhzhia. Including additional buses from Melitopol, those convoys were carrying more than 2,500 people.

Additionally, the official said 10 buses had arrived from Zaporizhzhia to Berdiansk delivering 80 tons of humanitarian aid.

"Tomorrow morning they will continue the evacuation of Mariupol residents," she added. 

11:57 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

Russian forces withdraw from Antonov Airport, outside of Kyiv, satellite images confirm

A satellite image shows empty revetments at Antonov Airport in Hostomel, Ukraine on March 31. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

After weeks of literally digging in at the Antonov Airport in Hostomel, just 18 miles (more 28 kilometers) northwest from the Ukrainian capital, Russian forces there have suddenly disappeared, new satellite images show.

A satellite overview show's the abandoned Antonov airfield. (Maxar Technologies)

On Thursday, an official with the US Department of Defense told CNN they believed that the Russian military had likely left the airport. The new satellite images, taken on Thursday from Maxar Technologies, confirm they have.

Previous satellite images showed that, around military vehicles and artillery positions, the Russians had constructed protective earthen berms. Now, just the berms remain. 

The capture of the Antonov airfield was the first major victory notched by the Russians on the first day of the war — Feb. 24. A number of transport and attack helicopters ambushed the base, and the Ukrainian soldiers at it; CNN even witnessed some of the intense firefight at the base.

Since then, Ukrainian forces held strong against the Russian advance; they never made it closer to western Kyiv. Intense firefights took place along the Irpin River and the towns of Irpin and Bucha, just south of the air base and the surrounding village of Hostomel. 

And for weeks, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a number of videos praising the ease at which they claimed to have taken the air base. Russian state media echoed those claims, even traveling with troops around the airport as evidence for how safe the area was.

Now, the abandonment is just another example of Russia’s waning military success around the Ukrainian capital.

A satellite image shows an area where artillery batteries were seen previously. (Maxar Technologies)

At this time, it's unclear where the military and artillery vehicles went. Russia has previously claimed that it would decrease its military activity around Kyiv. All of the military forces and vehicles that were positioned west of Kyiv came from Belarus.

The Russians aren't saying if they returned to Belarus, and thick cloud cover is currently preventing any satellite imagery from tracking Russian troop movements in the area.

More empty revetments are seen near the airport. (Maxar Technologies)

8:02 p.m. ET, April 1, 2022

It's past midnight in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

A boy looks at a destroyed Russian tank after recent battles in Bucha, Ukraine on Friday, Apr. 1. (Oleksandr Ratushniak/AP)

If you are catching up on the latest developments in the Ukraine-Russia war, here's what you need to know.

Missile strikes in Odesa: Three Iskander missiles launched from the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea had struck a settlement in the Odesa region, said Maksym Marchenko, the head of the region's military administration, adding that there were casualties.
Ukraine recaptured Bucha: Ukraine has recaptured the town of Bucha near the capital of Kyiv Thursday, according to Bucha's Mayor Anatolii Fedoruk.
Mariupol evacuations: Buses carrying civilians evacuated from the besieged city of Mariupol left the coastal city of Berdyansk and arrived in the Ukrainian government-held city of Zaporizhzhia late Friday night local time. Around 2,000 civilians were on the buses, according to the Mariupol city council. Ukrainian authorities say more than 100,000 civilians still remain trapped in Mariupol.
Blaze at a fuel depot: A huge fire broke out at a fuel depot in Belgorod, a Russian city near the Ukrainian border, and Russia says an air strike from Ukrainian helicopters is to blame. CNN is so far unable to verify this claim and the Ukrainian defense ministry told CNN it has no information about the incident. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Friday that the purported strike could have a potential negative impact on negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow.
Heavy shelling continues: Ukrainian officials have continued to report heavy shelling in eastern Ukraine on Friday, particularly in the Luhansk region of the Donbas amid an apparent shift by Russia to redirect military efforts to the region. NATO's chief has warned Russian forces are repositioning rather than withdrawing, while Ukrainian and US officials say say Russians may be regrouping in Belarus.
Here's the state of the conflict: