Former U.S. Marine killed fighting in Ukraine; Russian missile strikes hit Kyiv amid UN chief’s visit


Two British aid workers captured by Russian forces, NGO says

Two British aid workers have been detained by Russian forces near Ukraine’s southern city of Zaporizhzhia, the U.K.-based non-profit Presidium Network said.

The group’s founder Dominik Byrne told the BBC on Friday that the two men “got through a Ukraine checkpoint to go south through Russian controlled area when we lost contact on Monday morning.”

Presidium said that the two volunteers were civilians working independently but as part of a mission in Ukraine to provide medical supplies, food and evacuation help.

Byrne said he was working “to get the support we need from the U.K. government and from the international community, as well as on the ground,” and that he was seeking “clarification about how they are and how safe they are” and whether they were being “treated properly.”

The U.K.’s Foreign Office “is doing all it can to support and identify these two people,” British trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan told Sky News on Friday.

— Natasha Turak

Britain sending experts to help Ukraine prosecute war crimes: Foreign secretary

The U.K. is sending experts to help Ukraine’s government collect evidence and prosecute Russian war crimes against civilians, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said. Ukraine says it is investigating more than 7,000 potential war crimes in the wake of Russia’s unprovoked invasion.

British Foreign Minister Liz Truss speaks during an interview with Reuters after visiting the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands in this screen grab taken from a video April 29, 2022. 

Piroschka Van De Wouw | Reuters

“Russia has brought barbarity to Ukraine and committed vile atrocities, including against women. British expertise will help uncover the truth and hold Putin’s regime to account for its actions,” Truss said. The foreign secretary is traveling to The Hague to meet with International Criminal Court President Judge Piotr Hofmanski and Dutch Foreign Secretary Wopke Hoekstra.

“The specialist team will assist the Ukrainian government as they gather evidence and prosecute war crimes and will include experts in conflict-related sexual violence,” a foreign office statement said.

— Natasha Turak

Former U.S. Marine reportedly killed fighting alongside Ukrainian forces

American citizen Willy Joseph Cancel was killed while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces in Ukraine, CNN has reported.

Cancel, a former U.S. Marine, was 22 years old and working for a private military contractor when he was sent by his company to fight in Ukraine, his mother Rebecca Cabrera said.

“He wanted to go over because he believed in what Ukraine was fighting for, and he wanted to be a part of it to contain it there so it didn’t come here, and that maybe our American soldiers wouldn’t have to be involved in it,” Cabrera told CNN in a phone interview.

Cancel entered Ukraine via Poland in mid-March and was killed on Monday, his mother said.

NBC has reached out to Cancel’s family and the State Department. Quoted by CNN, a State Department official said they are “aware of these reports and are closely monitoring the situation.”

“Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment,” the official added. “We once again reiterate U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine due to the active armed conflict and the singling out of U.S. citizens in Ukraine by Russian government security officials, and that U.S. citizens in Ukraine should depart immediately if it is safe to do so, using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options.”

More than 20,000 foreign fighters from 52 countries, many of whom are military veterans, have volunteered to fight against the Russian invasion in Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, which created the International Legion to serve that purpose.

— Natasha Turak

Should the West prepare for war with Russia? Strategists examine what could come next

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of the executive board of the General Procurator’s Office in Moscow, Russia April 25, 2022.

Valery Sharifulin | Sputnik | Reuters

Russia has repeatedly warned of the risks of nuclear war and of swift retaliation “if necessary” as its invasion of Ukraine continues and it faces stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces armed with advanced Western weaponry.

Moscow has warned NATO states to stop arming Ukrainian forces, and has made frequent reference to its war arsenal, which includes nuclear weapons. But strategists have told CNBC that Putin is playing on risk aversion in the West and that the chances of a nuclear war are remote.

One close Russia watcher said Western governments need to imbue their populations with a “war mentality” to prepare them for the hardships they could face as the economic fallout from the war continues.

Those include rising energy costs and disrupted supply chains and goods from Russia and Ukraine, among the world’s biggest “bread baskets.”

Read the full story.

— Holly Ellyatt

There will be ‘lessons learned’ over Ukraine war, UN deputy secretary-general says after criticism

The United Nations has faced scathing criticism over what many describe as its slow and ineffective response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In response to that, its Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed admitted that there will be “lessons learned” over the conflict, and that it came as “a big shock to the system.”

Press Briefing by Deputy Secretary-General Amina J Mohammed on the launch of the 2022 Financing for Sustainable Development Report, United Nations, New York City, New York, April 12, 2022.

Europanewswire | Gado | Getty Images

“Of course, there are things that we could have done to stop the war, but perhaps those are going to be lessons learned again, when the Security Council, the General Assembly leaders will look back and say, ‘what could we have done, and make sure that we prevent the next war, the next pandemic’,” Mohammed told CNBC.

“These are all things that we are learning. I think history tells us that we’re not very good learners when it comes to that.”

“I hope that the learnings will find ways to make us more accountable to put in the checks and balances that this doesn’t ever happen again, and that we are working towards peace,” Mohammed added.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Moscow to meet with Putin and later traveled to Kyiv, after being criticized for not playing a strong enough role in the conflict and for visiting Russia before Ukraine.

Read the full story.

— Tania Bryer and Natasha Turak

Difficult ‘if not impossible’ for Europe to substitute Russian gas in the short term, CEO says

Replacing Russian gas with other sources will be next to impossible in the near term, Alfred Stern, CEO of Austrian oil and gas company OMV, told CNBC.

“On the supply of gas for Europe, I think we should be rather clear, that in the short run it will be very difficult for Europe if not impossible to substitute the Russian gas flows,” Stern told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.”

Some countries have the possibility of drawing on alternate sources of the commodity, “but if you look at the total European picture, the quantities just work out in such a way that we will not be able to substitute in the short run the full quantity with European production or imports from other sources,” the CEO said.

“The capacity currently is not here, it can be built up over time, but in the short run this is not possible.”

The comments come days after Russia announced it was cutting off its gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, after the two countries refused a Russian demand to pay for the imports in rubles, since Moscow is cut off by sanctions from being paid in euros or dollars.

As the EU, which imports 40% of its gas from Russia, grapples with the reality of Moscow using its energy as a weapon, analysts and executives have warned of a recession in Europe if Russia fully turns off the taps.  

“It will be critical because it could have significant impact on our economy, on the running of industry, because we depend on the availability of energy for this,” Stern said. 

Russian strikes in Kyiv injure 10 people amid UN leader’s visit

Russian strikes in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Thursday hit residential buildings and wounded 10 people, Ukrainian emergency services said.

Witness reported large explosions in Kyiv’s northwestern Shevchenkivsky district that left windows blown out and parts of buildings blackened. It came as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov visited the city, and as Ukrainian residents begin to return.

“Shocked and appalled about the Russian missile strikes on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. Russia demonstrates again its blatant disregard for intl law by bombarding a city while @UN Secretary General @antonioguterres is present, alongside Bulgarian PM @KirilPetkov,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a tweet.

— Natasha Turak

Russia may be preparing to hold ‘sham referenda’ in Ukraine, U.S. ambassador says

Russia may be preparing to stage “sham referenda” in Ukraine’s south and east — in areas it has illegally seized since Feb. 24 — to legitimize its illegal invasion and assert control there, said the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Russia is planning to force Ukraine’s government to surrender, including dissolving all local municipal governments, while setting up new government structures in “liberated” territories under Russian control, ambassador Michael Carpenter said in a speech to OSCE.

He added that Russian officials and so-called separatists are developing plans for a new government and constitution.

“This planning includes a moratorium disallowing legitimate Ukrainian leaders and those supporting Ukraine’s legitimate government from any leadership positions,” Carpenter said.

A Ukrainian soldier in front of a residential building destroyed by a Russian artillery strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Russia is likely to intensify ongoing deportations of Ukrainians, said the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Alex Chan Tsz Yuk/SOPA Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

He added that the plans are “straight out of Russia’s playbook” of orchestrating “so-called referenda in the Ukrainian regions of Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk — each time with faked high percentages of public support” and installing puppet regimes there.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and the country has been supporting a separatist rebellion in the Donbas — made up of Ukrainian cities Luhansk and Donetsk — since 2014.

Carpenter added that Russia is likely to intensify ongoing deportations of Ukrainians.

“We should expect Russia to intensify its ongoing forced transfers of local populations from areas of Ukraine’s south and east to Russia or Russia-controlled parts of the Donbas via so-called “filtration camps,” Carpenter said.

— Chelsea Ong

Ukraine plans an operation to get civilians out of Mariupol’s blockaded steel plant

A view shows a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 26, 2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Ukraine says it has a plan to evacuate the roughly 1,000 civilians who are holed up in the massive Azovstal steel plant complex in the besieged city of Mariupol.

“An operation is planned today to get civilians out of the plant,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said, without further elaboration.

The site has become one of the last significant holdouts of Ukrainian forces in an otherwise Russian-occupied city.

Mariupol, a strategic port city in Ukraine’s south and just 30 miles from the Russian border, has seen some of the most brutal bombardment of the entire Russian campaign, and has been cut off from electricity, food, and most humanitarian aid since the start of March. Satellite imagery has revealed what Western and Ukrainian officials believe are mass graves just outside the city.

Russia’s defense ministry has in past days said it was opening a humanitarian corridor for civilians to leave the steel plant. But multiple previous attempts have failed, with Kyiv blaming Russian forces for not holding their fire to allow safe passage. Moscow, meanwhile, blames Ukrainian forces for the failure.

— Natasha Turak

Battle for Donbas is Russia’s main focus, but Ukrainian resistance is limiting its gains: UK MoD

Ukrainian soldiers rest at their position near Lyman, eastern Ukraine, on April 28, 2022, amid Russian invasion of Ukraine. (

Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP | Getty Images

The battle for Donbas is Russia’s primary focus, as it aims to take over Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the U.K. Ministry of Defence wrote in its daily intelligence update Friday.

So far, significant Ukrainian resistance is hampering Moscow’s progress, it added.

In the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts (or administrative districts), “fighting has been particularly heavy around Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, with an attempted advance south from Izium towards Slovyansk,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.

“Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian territorial gains have been limited and achieved at significant cost to Russian forces.”

— Natasha Turak

Ukraine’s prosecutor identifies 10 Russian soldiers accused of Bucha atrocities

A grave digger arranges flowers atop the grave of a woman as her husband and son watch on April 20, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine. Ukraine’s prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova has identified 10 Russian soldiers she previously accused of atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

John Moore | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukraine’s prosecutor general has identified 10 Russian soldiers she said were involved in the atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, according to the Associated Press.

Iryna Venediktova appealed to the public on Facebook to help gather evidence against those soldiers whom she said were “involved in the torture of peaceful people.” They were from Russia’s 64th Separate Motorized Rifle Ground Forces Brigade whose work President Vladimir Putin recently honored, the AP said.

“During the occupation of Bucha, they took unarmed civilians hostage, killed them with hunger and thirst, kept them on their knees with hands tied and eyes taped, mocked and beat them,” she reportedly said, adding that the soldiers threatened to shoot the civilians and looted houses.

On Thursday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Bucha, calling for an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine.

— Chelsea Ong

U.S. Embassy in Kyiv says staffer was killed in war in Ukraine

A woman walks past the closed United States Embassy to Ukraine on April 25, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

John Moore | Getty Images

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv says one of its employees was killed in the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

“Volodymyr, who took leave from his job as an Embassy bodyguard to rejoin the army and defend Ukraine,” the U.S. mission in Kyiv wrote.

“We will never forget his kind spirit, dedication, and bravery. Our deepest condolences go to his family and friends,” the embassy wrote in a tweet.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told lawmakers Wednesday that the Biden administration is working on reopening the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.

— Amanda Macias

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