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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine


Russia reportedly appoints new battlefield commander who oversaw brutal attacks in Syria

Russia has reportedly appointed a new commander to oversee its war on Ukraine, according to a U.S. official who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Russia has now turned to one of its most experienced military officers, Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, the official told AP.

Citing reports, NBC’s Molly Hunter explained on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd that the 60-year-old general has a record of brutality against civilians in Syria and is “apparently one of Putin’s favorites.”

“What we know is that he was the one who called in many of the airstrikes and is accused of calling in many of the airstrikes on residential buildings in Syria, on hospitals, accused of atrocities, of carrying out Russia’s scorched earth policies,” Hunter said.

“This really fills a power vacuum, that apparently Russia has been missing a key battlefield commander,” she added. “And this comes as this shift focuses to the east of the country.”

— Lauren Thomas

Ukrainian forces head home after weeks of specialized training on U.S. bases

AeroVironment Switchblade 600 Drone

Courtesy: AeroVironment

A small number of Ukrainian soldiers departed the United States today after receiving weeks of side-by-side training with American service members.

The Ukrainian troops were participating in a pre-scheduled training at the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, a program run by the U.S. Special Operations Command, in Biloxi, Mississippi, when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

The Ukrainians received training on patrol craft operations and communication systems, as well as additional advanced tactical training on systems the U.S. recently agreed to provide to Ukraine, including Switchblade drones.

The Switchblades, dubbed “kamikaze” drones, are equipped with cameras, navigation systems and guided explosives. The weapons can be programmed to strike targets that are miles away automatically, or can loiter above a target until engaged by an operator to strike.

Deploying Switchblades to the fight in Ukraine could be the most significant use of the weapons in combat, as it is not clear how often the U.S. military has used the killer drones on the battlefield.

— Amanda Macias

Austrian head of state Nehammer says he plans to meet Putin in Moscow

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on Twitter that he plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday.

This would be the first face-to-face meeting between Putin and a European Union leader since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

“I’m going to meet Vladimir #Putin in Moscow tomorrow,” Nehammer wrote. “We are militarily neutral, but [have] a clear position on the Russian war of aggression against #Ukraine. It must stop! It needs humanitarian corridors, ceasefire & full investigation of war crimes.”

Nehammer added that he has briefed other European “partners” regarding his visit, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as well as Ukrainian President Zelenskyy.

This comes after Nehammer visited Ukraine and met with Zelenskyy on Saturday.

Austria has been providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine during the war. Nehammer, a conservative, has said he wants to show Zelenskyy his support.

— Lauren Thomas

White House says President Biden wants India to oppose war

The White House said that President Joe Biden is planning to press Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a tougher stance on Russia’s Ukraine invasion.

The two will meet virtually on Monday, according to Press Secretary Jen Psaki, where they will discuss cooperation on a range of issues including ending the Covid-19 pandemic, countering the climate crisis and strengthening the global economy.

India’s neutral stance on the war in Ukraine has raised concerns around Washington while earning the praise of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He recently applauded India for not judging “the situation in its entirety, not just in a one-sided way.”

India has also recently purchased advanced Russian air defense systems, a move which could theoretically lead to U.S. sanctions.

In a statement released Sunday, Psaki said Biden will talk in the meeting about how Russia’s war on Ukraine is destabilizing the global food supply and commodity markets. She said Biden will also address the need to strengthen the global economy while “upholding a free, open, rules-based international order to bolster security, democracy, and prosperity.”

— Lauren Thomas

European Commission president says EU ‘has to do more’ for Ukraine

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the European Union “has to do more” for Ukraine as it fights Russia, including providing military supplies and potentially imposing additional sanctions.

“We have to deliver arms, weapons so the Ukrainian people can defend themselves. It’s really urgent right now. A lot has been done but more has to be done. We have to support the refugees in Ukraine, but also very important we have to financially support Ukraine,” she said.

Von der Leyen visited Bucha last week to witness aftermath of Russia’s invasion first hand.

— Jesse Pound

The search for bodies continues in Borodyanka

Editor’s note: Graphic content – The following post contains photos of dead civilians in Borodyanka.

Rescue workers search for bodies at an apartment building on April 9 in Borodyanka, Ukraine. The Russian military’s retreat from towns near Kyiv has revealed scores of civilian deaths and the full extent of devastation from Russia’s attempt to seize the Ukrainian capital. 

Ukrainian Rescuers worked to clear the rubble after the collapse of buildings destroyed by russian army in Borodyanka city near Kyiv, Ukraine, 09 April 2022.

Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ukrainian Rescuers worked to clear the rubble after the collapse of buildings destroyed by russian army in Borodyanka city near Kyiv, Ukraine, 09 April 2022.

Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ukrainian Rescuers remove the body of a resident of apartments blocks destroyed by russian army in Borodyanka city near Kyiv, Ukraine, 09 April 2022.

Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Rescue workers remove a body from the rubble of a destroyed apartment building, on April 9, 2022 in Borodianka, Ukraine. 

Alexey Furman | Getty Images

Rescue workers clear the rubble of an apartment building on April 9, 2022 in Borodianka, Ukraine. 

Alexey Furman | Getty Images

Rescue workers carry the body of a man who was found among the rubble of a destroyed apartment building, on April 9, 2022 in Borodianka, Ukraine. 

Alexey Furman | Getty Images

A woman crying next to a body of a person found under the rubble after the collapse of buildings destroyed by russian army in Borodyanka city near Kyiv, Ukraine, 09 April 2022.

Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Firefighters rest while clearing debris from a building that collapsed due to shelling in Borodyanka, a town in Kyiv Oblast.

Laurel Chor | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Chornobyl nuclear plant carries out second shift change of the war

A satellite image shows a closer view of a sarcophagus at Chornobyl nuclear power plant, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine, March 10, 2022.

Maxar Technologies | Reuters

Ukraine has carried out the first staff rotation in three weeks at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced.

This is just the second shift change at the plant since Russia attacked the plant in late February.

Ukraine also told the agency that equipment the plant’s analytical laboratories used for radiation monitoring was damaged, disabled or stolen, according to a press release.

— Jesse Pound

Zelenskyy says Ukraine’s survival depends on more support from U.S.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy told “60 Minutes” he has doubts about whether the United States will meet his request for supplies and weapons for the next phase of the war against Russia, according to a preview of the interview released by CBS.

“All depends on how fast we will be helped by the United States. To be honest, whether we will be able to survive depends on this,” Zelenskyy said. “I have 100% confidence in our people and in our armed forces, but unfortunately I do not have the confidence we will be receiving everything we need.”

The Ukrainian leader also said he believes Russia is increasing its military equipment near the front as the fighting shifts toward the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine.

— Jesse Pound

U.S. needs to be more aggressive in helping Ukraine, McConnell says

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks during an interview with Reuters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2021.

Joshua Roberts | Reuters

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday” that the Biden administration has still not been as aggressive as he would like in helping Ukraine win the war and expel Russian forces.

“I think the administration has been better, but they’ve had to be pushed every step of the way to be more aggressive, sooner,” the Kentucky Republican said.

“I think they’re getting better, but they still don’t understand the goal. The goal is for Ukraine to win,” McConnell added.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier on the show that U.S. leaders are in regular contact with their Ukrainian counterparts to get weapons and supplies into the country.

“We are assessing, reviewing, every single day, the requests from the Ukrainian military and Ukrainian leadership… If we can’t meet what they need, we’re working with our allies and partners,” Psaki said.

— Jesse Pound

U.S. lawmakers arrive in Poland

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers arrived in Poland to meet with American forces, allies and Ukrainian refugees.

Led by House leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the group included House Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. and Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Texas; Michael Turner, R-Ohio; Ken Calvert, R-Calif.; French Hill, R-Ark.; Kathleen Rice, D-New York; Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla.; Mike Garcia, R-Cal. and Michelle Fishbach, R-Minn.

“We are here—as representatives of the United States—to ensure we are doing what is right to support Ukrainians as they defend themselves and their democracy,” McCarthy said in a release.

The leaders traveled to Warsaw to meet with the Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Poland, as well as the U.S. Ambassador to Poland. In Northeast Poland, they met with Ukrainian officials, refugees and U.S. soldiers.

The group said more stops will be announced in the coming days.

— Jessica Bursztynsky

War is having a limited impact on Europe vacation bookings, experts say

The war in Ukraine does not appear to be making a major dent in European travel, according to travel agents and experts.

Jennifer Griscavage, founder of Runway Travel, said she is having a busy bookings season, especially for countries that are not bordering on the war zone.

“Italy, Greece and France in particular have been very popular,” Griscavage said.

Audrey Hendley, president of Global Travel and Lifestyle Services at American Express, said the eastern European countries that are closer to the conflict are not major travel destinations in typical years.

— Kenneth Kiesnoski, Jesse Pound

Zelenskyy and Germany’s Scholz discussed additional sanctions on Russia

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz looks on before the weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin, Germany April 6, 2022.

Lisi Niesner | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he discussed further sanctions on Russia with his German counterpart Olaf Scholz.

The two spoke of the possibility of new sanctions via phone, as well as additional defense and economic support for Ukraine, Zelenskyy reported via Twitter.

A separate conference call between Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials focused on the development of a sixth package of EU sanctions for Russia.

— Natasha Turak

Russia confirms prisoner exchange with Ukraine

A Ukrainian serviceman stands past a handcuffed Russian soldier in Kharkiv on March 31, 2022.

Fadel Senna | AFP | Getty Images

Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova confirmed on Sunday that Russia and Ukraine had carried out a prisoner exchange on Saturday.

Moskalkova said that among those returned to Russia were four employees of state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, soldiers and some other civilians.

“Early this morning they landed on Russian soil,” Moskalkova said in an online post.

On Saturday an exchange of truck drivers between Russia and Ukraine was also conducted, Moskalkova said, with 32 Russian truck drivers, 20 Ukrainians and a number of Belarus nationals exchanged.

— Reuters

Jake Sullivan downplays genocide label, says focus should be on the crimes

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks to the media about the war in Ukraine and other topics at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2022.

Leah Millis | Reuters

Editor’s note: Graphic content. The following post contains a photo of civilian casualties in Bucha.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan deemphasized the importance of labelling Russia’s atrocities on Ukrainians as “genocide.”

“The label is less important,” Sullivan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” It shouldn’t distract from the fact that “these acts are cruel and criminal and wrong and evil and need to be responded to decisively.”

The U.S. is still determining whether the actions in Ukraine constitute genocide, Sullivan later said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I think we can all say that these are mass atrocities. These are war crimes. These are shocking and brutal acts that are completely unacceptable, beyond the pale for the international community. So whatever label one wants to affix to them, the bottom line is this, there must be accountability,” Sullivan said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Image depict deaths) Criminalists get from the mass grave the bodies of civilians killed by the Russian army in Bucha, outside of Kyiv, Ukraine April 8, 2022.

Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Before the war began, the Kremlin had planned to target civilians who opposed the invasion, U.S. intelligence has shown. That’s led to “broad-scale war crimes” across the Eastern European nation.

Some Russian troops may also be acting out of frustration, Sullivan told ABC News.

“They had been told they were going to have a glorious victory and just ride into Kyiv without any opposition with the Ukrainians welcoming them,” Sullivan said. “And when that didn’t happen, I do think some of these units engaged in these acts of brutality, these atrocities, these war crimes even without direction from above.”

“But make no mistake, the larger issue of broad-scale war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine lies at the feet of the Kremlin and lies at the feet of the Russian president.”

— Jessica Bursztynsky

UN says 69 children are among the 1,793 civilians killed in Ukraine

Candles, a children’s clothing and shoes are seen during a demonstration organized by the Ukrainian Association in Finland, to honor the memory of the children killed in Mariupol, Ukraine, in Helsinki, on April 10, 2022.

Jussi Nukari | AFP | Getty Images

The United Nations has confirmed 1,793 civilian deaths and 2,439 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor on Feb. 24.

Of those killed, the UN has identified at least 69 children.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights adds that the death toll in Ukraine is likely higher, citing delayed reporting due to the armed conflict.

The international body said most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as missiles and airstrikes.

— Amanda Macias

Russia declares missile strikes in Ukraine’s Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiv regions

Russia’s military declared missile strikes on Ukraine’s eastern Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv regions and southern Mykolaiv region Sunday. Russian defense ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement:

“During the night in the village of Zvonetske — Dnipropetrovsk region — high-precision sea-based missiles destroyed the headquarters and base of the Dnipro nationalist battalion, where reinforcements from foreign mercenaries arrived the other day.”

“High-precision air-launched missiles in the area of the settlement of Stara Bohdanivka, Mykolaiv region and at the Chuhuiv military airfield [in Kharkiv region] destroyed launchers of Ukrainian S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems identified by reconnaissance,” the statement added.

A couple hugs while walking past a building that was heavily damaged by shelling, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, April 10, 2022. 

Alkis Konstantinidis | Reuters

CNBC was unable to independently verify the claims, but Ukrainian military spokespeople said there has been frequent shelling in the Dnipropetrovsk region for the past 24 hours.

Moscow says it is not targeting civilians, despite well-documented evidence to the contrary.

— Natasha Turak

Satellite images show convoy of armed forces heading towards Donbas region

Satellite images from Maxar Technologies show a convoy of military forces heading south toward the Donbas region on April 8.

Maxar works with U.S. government agencies to provide commercial satellite imagery. The following images are from Maxar and have not been independently verified by NBC News.

A satellite image shows armoured vehicles at the northern end of a military convoy moving south through the Ukrainian town of Velykyi Burluk, Ukraine, April 8, 2022. 

Maxar Technologies | Reuters

A satellite image shows armoured vehicles and trucks of a military convoy moving south through the Ukrainian town of Velykyi Burluk, Ukraine, April 8, 2022. 

Maxar Technologies | Reuters

A satellite image shows armoured vehicles and trucks at the southern end of a military convoy moving south through the Ukrainian town of Velykyi Burluk, Ukraine, April 8, 2022. Picture taken April 8, 2022. 

Maxar Technologies | Reuters

— Maxar Technologies via Reuters

Nine humanitarian corridors in eastern Ukraine agreed for Sunday

A young girl sits on a suitcase before the train leaves the eastern city of Kramatorsk, in the Donbas region on April 3, 2022.

Fadel Senna | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced an agreed nine humanitarian corridors for Sunday via a Telegram post. The news comes as thousands of people desperately try to flee Ukraine’s east in anticipation of a major battle in the Donbas.

One corridor will run in the Donetsk region from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, by private vehicle only. Three other corridors have been established to the Zaporizhzhia region from Berdiansk, Tokmak and Energodar, running by both bus and private transport. Five corridors will be open in the Luhansk region, Vereshchuk detailed.

There is no corridor from the southern city of Melitopol, which is under Russian control.

— Natasha Turak

Russia seeks to rebuild troop numbers with retired soldiers, U.K.’s MoD says

Russia’s military is aiming to increase its troop strength with soldiers discharged in the last decade after suffering heavy losses in its invasion of Ukraine, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence said in its daily intelligence update on Twitter Sunday.

“In response to mounting losses, the Russian armed forces seek to bolster troop numbers with personnel discharged from military service since 2012,” the bulletin read.

“Efforts to generate more fighting power also include trying to recruit from the unrecognised Transnistria region of Moldova,” it added.

NBC could not immediately verify the report.

— Natasha Turak

Zelenskyy renews call for immediate embargo on Russian oil, says Ukraine can’t wait

Ukraine’s president has renewed calls for the “whole civilized world” to immediately ban Russian oil as “Ukraine does not have time to wait.”

In his nightly address, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “Action must be taken immediately… And the oil embargo should be the first step.”

It must be carried out “at the level of all democracies, the whole civilized world,” he said. “Then Russia will feel it. Then it will be an argument for them — to seek peace, to stop pointless violence.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses nation as Russia’s offensive enters day 45 in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 09, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Zelenskyy has been pressing world leaders to impose a full embargo on Russian energy for weeks now.

“Oil is one of the two sources of Russian self-confidence, their sense of impunity,” he said in the late night address. “Another source — gas — will also be shut down over time. It’s just inevitable.”

But the Ukrainian leader stressed the urgency, saying that “Ukraine does not have time to wait. Freedom does not have time to wait.”

Joanna Tan

Zelenskyy calls on other countries to follow UK on increasing aid

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walk at the Independence Square after a meeting, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine April 9, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Western nations to increase their support for the embattled country after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged more military and financial aid.

The two leaders met in Kyiv earlier in the day, leading Britain to increase support for the country.

“It’s time to impose a full embargo on Russian energy, to increase the supply of all weapons to us,” Zelenskyy said.

—Jessica Bursztynsky

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