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April 3, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news | CNN

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Investigators and members of emergency services work at the site of an explosion in a cafe in Saint Petersburg, Russia April 2, 2023.
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Our live coverage for the day has ended. Follow the latest Ukraine news here or read through the updates below.

The preventive detention hearing for Daria Trepova, who was detained in connection with the explosion at a cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia, will take place on Tuesday at Basmanny District Court in Moscow, according to Russian state news agency Vesti.

Russian authorities detained Trepova, 26, claiming she was involved in the blast that killed well-known military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky at a café in St. Petersburg on Sunday.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC on March 1.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Monday described Russia assuming the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) presidency this month as “an April Fool’s joke.”

“But the truth of the matter is, it’s a rotating seat. We expect that they will behave professionally. But we also expect that they will use their seat to spread disinformation and to promote their own agenda as it relates to Ukraine, and we will stand ready to call them out at every single moment that they attempt to do that,” Greenfield added.  

Greenfield said she is not surprised if the Russians asked the foreign minister to come to UNSC headquarters in New York but also said council does work beyond Ukraine.

“We haven’t decided yet on what our attendance levels will be, but we intend to carry out the business of the Security Council during this month. The Security Council does more than Ukraine. We work on many issues, and we again expect that Russia will carry their presidency in a professional way, but when they don’t, we will stand ready to call them out,” Greenfield said. 

Vasily Nebenzya, Russian ambassador to the United Nations, dismissed concerns that Russia could fairly be the president of the Security Council for April during the ongoing war in Ukraine.

He said there were no complaints in February 2022 when Russia was last president of the council, while Russia invaded and pointed out that the US was president of the council in 2003 — the year Iraq was invaded. 

The ambassador said as long as world order is maintained, there will not be any change in UN procedures that might lead to a change in Russia’s status. 

Russia took over presidency on Saturday of the UN’s top security body, which rotates every month.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Newly published video shows moment of explosion that killed Russian journalist: The video shows the moments running up to an explosion that killed Russian military journalist Vladen Tartovsky in a St Petersburg café on Sunday. The 25-second video shows Tartovsky putting a statuette given to him at the event into a box after passing the microphone to another man. He places the statuette back into the box and then covers it with what appears to be paper wrapping. As he presses down the paper, there is an explosion.
  • More than 500 children have been killed in Ukraine since the war began, UNICEF says: At least 501 children have been killed in Ukraine since February 2022, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion, said Catherine Russell, executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “Another tragic milestone for Ukraine’s children and families,” Russell tweeted on Monday. Russell warned the real figure is “likely far higher” than the numbers verified by the UN agency.
  • Finland’s official accession to NATO is historic, alliance chief says: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said it will be historic when the military alliance raises the Finnish flag for the first time at its headquarters on Tuesday after it was announced that Finland was joining the alliance. “This is a historic week. Tomorrow we will welcome Finland as the 31st member of NATO, making Finland safer and our alliance stronger. We will raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at NATO Headquarters,” Stoltenberg said, speaking in Brussels Monday.
  • Ukraine receives first tranche of $2.7 billion from new IMF program, finance minister says: Ukraine has received the first tranche of $2.7 billion from a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) program, Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko tweeted Monday. The IMF regularly makes emergency loans to countries in crisis. On Friday, the IMF approved a new four-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) of around $15.6 billion as part of a $115 billion total support package for Ukraine. 
  • Ukraine war has cost $2.6 billion in damage to heritage and cultural sites, UNESCO says: The war in Ukraine has cost an estimated $2.6 billion of damage to heritage and cultural sites in the country, the UN cultural body UNESCO said in a recently published report. The report, which covers one year of war in Ukraine between February 24, 2022, and February 24, 2023, was a joint assessment conducted by the Ukrainian government, the World Bank, the European Commission and the United Nations.
  • Ukrainian military says dozens of enemy attacks along the front lines have been repelled: The Ukrainian military has reported little change to the front lines but heavy fire from Russian forces at various parts of the front line in the Donetsk region. The General Staff said that more than 45 enemy attacks had been repelled over the past day, with the focus on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Mariinka. It said there were 17 air strikes and more than 20 strikes by multiple launch rocket systems.
People walk past a portrait of Russian military journalist Vladen Tartovsky, who was killed in a cafe explosion in Moscow, Russia on Monday.

Newly published video shows the moments running up to an explosion that killed Russian military journalist Vladen Tartovsky in a St Petersburg café on Sunday.

Tatarsky died when a blast tore through the cafe where he was appearing as a guest of a pro-war group called Cyber Front Z. Prior Russian media reports suggested that Tatarsky may have been killed by a device hidden in a figurine presented to him by a woman before the blast.

The 25-second video shows Tartovsky putting a statuette given to him at the event into a box after passing the microphone to another man.

He places the statuette back into the box and then covers it with what appears to be paper wrapping. As he presses down the paper, there is an explosion.

In the last two seconds of the video, Tartovsky is pixillated, but the rest of the scene is not.

More to know: The well-known Russian blogger was killed in what appeared to be an audacious attack on a high-profile pro-Kremlin figure, officials said.

Authorities said they were treating the case as suspected murder.

At least 32 people were injured in the blast, with 10 people in serious condition, state media Ria Novosti reported, citing the Russian Ministry of Health.

Vasily Nebenzya speaks at the UN headquarters in New York on February 22.

Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya on Monday scoffed at concerns that his country could fairly be the president of the Security Council for April during the war in Ukraine.

Nebenzya pointed out that the US was president of the council in 2003 — the year Iraq was invaded. 

He said there were no complaints in February 2022 when Russia was last president of the council, while Russia invaded. 

The ambassador said as long as world order is maintained, there will not be any change in UN procedures that might lead to a change in Russia’s status. 

Russia took over presidency on Saturday of the UN’s top security body, which rotates every month.

Ukraine has received the first tranche of $2.7 billion from a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) program, Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko said in a tweet Monday.  

The IMF, which regularly makes emergency loans to countries in crisis, on Friday approved a new four-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) of around $15.6 billion as part of a $115 billion total support package for Ukraine.  

The program aims to “anchor policies that sustain fiscal, external, price and financial stability and support economic recovery, while enhancing governance and strengthening institutions to promote long-term growth in the context of post-war reconstruction and Ukraine’s path to EU accession,” the IMF said in a statement

The program also helps Ukraine to carry out “more ambitious structural reforms,” it said.

The Extended Fund Facility (EFF) loan is the first major conventional financing program approved by the IMF for a country involved in a large-scale war, Reuters reported.

The risks to the arrangement are “exceptionally high,” said Gita Gopinath, first deputy managing director of the global lender.  

“The success of the program depends on the size, composition, and timing of external financing on concessional terms to help close fiscal and external financing gaps and restore debt sustainability on a forward-looking basis under the baseline and downside scenarios,” she added.  

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday assured Moldova of Berlin’s support on its path to accession to the European Union as Moldovan and American officials allege Russia of trying to weaken the government in Chisinau.   

“Moldova is part of our European family. In the summer, we granted it candidate status. And I very much welcome how resolutely Moldova has tackled the necessary reforms that are indispensable for EU accession,” Scholz told a news conference in Bucharest, Romania alongside Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Moldovan President Maia Sandu. 

“Moldova can be sure of our support on this path. I assured the President [Sandu] of this once again today. Moldova does not stand alone, but receives massive international support,” the German chancellor continued.  

Scholz expressed “great concern” about reports of alleged Russian attempts to destabilize Moldova and said Germany would do its “utmost” to support Moldova in arming itself against “attempts of destabilization by Russia.” 

In February, Moldova’s President Sandu accused Russia of planning to use “saboteurs who have undergone military training and are disguised as civilians” to destabilize the country — claims which were rejected by Russia’s foreign ministry as “unfounded.”  

According to White House officials, the US believes that Russia is working to weaken the Moldovan government, as it continues to seek closer ties with the European Union. 

“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of any state is inviolable. This requirement of the Helsinki Final Act and other agreements under international law was also signed by Russia. And it is still valid. Therefore, we do our utmost to support Moldova in arming itself against attempts of destabilization by Russia,” Scholz said. 

Speaking at the same event, Sandu said that “it is very important, and I am happy that Moldova is a dialogue partner with Romania and Germany. The projects we are involved in together are very useful for our people and will strongly lead us to the accession (to the European Union).” 

CNN’s Radina Gigova, Anna Chernova and Natasha Bertrand contributed reporting to this post.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke during a press conference to present the next North Atlantic Council (NAC) Ministers of Foreign Affairs meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on April 3.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that the alliance has not seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced late last month Moscow’s plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus.   

“We monitor very closely what Russia does. But so far, we haven’t seen any changes in their nuclear posture that requires any change in our nuclear posture,” the NATO chief said, while answering questions from reporters on the topic at a news conference in Brussels.  

Stoltenberg described Putin’s announcement as a “pattern of dangerous, reckless nuclear rhetoric.”  

“President Putin tries to use nuclear weapons as a way to prevent us from supporting Ukraine… intimidation, coercion to stop NATO Allies and partners for supporting Ukraine in their right to defend their own country,” he said.   

NATO’s chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that Western allies have delivered more than $70 billion in military aid to Ukraine over the last year since the Russian invasion started.  

“There are no signs that President Putin is preparing for peace. He is preparing for more war,” Stoltenberg warned, speaking at a news conference in Brussels.  

“We do not know when this war will end. But when it does, we will need to put in place arrangements so that Ukraine can deter future aggression. And history does not repeat itself. We cannot allow Russia to continue to chip away at European security,” he said. 

Stoltenberg added that allies have delivered 65 billion euros (around $70.7 billion) in military aid, and said he welcomed the recent arrival of modern battle tanks and other armored vehicles in Ukraine.  

“This can make a real difference on the front lines and allow the Ukrainian forces to liberate more territory,” he said.  

The NATO head affirmed that the alliance’s support is for the “long haul” and said, “we will discuss how we can step up our support, including by continuing to strengthen Ukraine’s armed forces and supporting the transition from Soviet-era to NATO equipment and doctrine.”   

Stoltenberg also said allies must address other threats and challenges, citing instability, terrorism, and the growing influence of Iran, Russia, and China. He urged allies to invest more in defense to tackle all these wide range of issues. 

Norway and Denmark will cooperate to donate 8,000 artillery rounds to Ukraine, the Norwegian government announced in a statement on Monday. 

“Norway donates the shells, while Denmark donates the associated fuzes, propellant bags and primer cartridges,” the statement said.   

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reacted to the announcement, saying in a tweet that he was grateful for the donation. 

“Grateful to the Danish and Norwegian governments led by @Statsmin and @jonasgahrstore for the joint initiative to transfer an additional batch of artillery shells to Ukraine. Timely military assistance from partners is the key to bringing our joint victory closer!” Zelensky said. 

The rounds will be “standard NATO 155 mm artillery ammunition and will supplement the Danish donation of 19 Caesar self-propelled howitzers,” Norway’s statement added. 

Norway’s artillery shells will be delivered from the country’s armed forces’ own stock, according to the statement. 

Norwegian defense minister Bjørn Arild Gram said “Ukraine has a significant need for artillery ammunition. Norway will contribute where we can. It is important for both Europe’s and Norway’s security that Ukraine succeeds in standing up to Russia’s attack.”  

“The Ukrainians still have a great and urgent need for ammunition for their fight for freedom against Russia. Denmark, together with other EU and NATO countries, is in the process of accommodating with a number of different military contributions. Our cooperation with Norway is an important example of this,” the Danish acting defense minister, Troels Lund Poulsen, said in the statement. 

A Ukrainian tank is seen near the frontline area amid the Russia-Ukraine war, in Bakhmut, Ukraine, on April 02.

The Ukrainian military has reported little change to the front lines but heavy fire from Russian forces at various parts of the front line in the Donetsk region.

The General Staff said that more than 45 enemy attacks had been repelled over the past day, with the focus on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Mariinka.

It said there were 17 air strikes and more than 20 strikes by multiple launch rocket systems.

“In the Bakhmut direction, the enemy is trying to take full control over the city of Bakhmut and continues to storm it,” the General Staff said.

West of the city, Ukrainian defense forces repelled about 20 enemy attacks, according to the General Staff.

Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukrainian Land Forces, posted on Telegram that in Bakhmut he had met with “soldiers and commanders who destroyed the myth of invincibility of the Wagner fighters and Russian paratroopers.”

“The enemy is weakening and trying to cover up its failures with new fakes about the capture of Bakhmut,” Syrskyi said.

Syrskyi referenced the possibility of a future counter-offensive, saying that “the forward movement of our entire army depends on what every soldier is doing right now on their section of the front.”

Some of the most intense fighting is to the northwest and west of the city of Donetsk – as the Russians continue months-long efforts to dislodge Ukrainian defenses in Avdiivka and Mariinka. The General Staff said that some 20 assaults had been repelled.

“There are also some operational successes of our military in the Donetsk area. Our military have taken some positions. They have taken a more strategic and favourable position,” said Oleksii Dmytrashkivskyi, spokesperson for the military in that zone.

He also noted that Russian special forces had been introduced in the area.

“The enemy is trying to attack our positions between Avdiivka and Marinka. These attempts do not stop. It should be noted that the enemy has suffered quite significant losses,” Dmytrashkivskyi said.

He also claimed that the Russians “don’t have the same amount of equipment and, as they themselves say, they are on a ‘diet’ of ammunition for assaults.”

Social media video showed both sides engaged in heavy fire in the Avdiivka area, which the Russians have surrounded on three sides. 

Denis Pushilin, the leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, claimed that Russian forces were still advancing in the Avdiivka direction. 

“It is still premature to speak of encirclement, but the situation is being created, if not critical, then extremely difficult for the enemy… After clearing Kamianka, our units are moving further. There are difficulties both with the terrain, which must also be overcome, and there are also similarities with weather conditions. But these difficulties are mutual — both for the enemy and for us,” Pushilin said.

Firefighters work at the site of a House of Culture hit by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine on August 18, 2022.

The war in Ukraine has cost an estimated $2.6 billion of damage to heritage and cultural sites in the country, the UN cultural body UNESCO said in a recently published report

The report, which covers one year of war in Ukraine between February 24, 2022, and February 24, 2023, was a joint assessment conducted by the Ukrainian government, the World Bank, the European Commission, and the United Nations.

UNESCO was in charge of the part of the report dedicated to culture and tourism.  

“As of February 24, 2023, the total damage cost from identified assets is estimated at $2.6 billion,” the report said in its assessment of damage related to culture and tourism.  

Some $1.7 billion of that cost was distributed to “historic cities, buildings, and sites imbued with recognized cultural/social values,” $650 million to tourism facilities, $143 million to “movable cultural properties and collections, repositories of culture,” and $150 million to “buildings/workshops/ateliers dedicated to cultural and creative industries,” according to UNESCO. 

The most impacted region in Ukraine was Kharkivska, which has suffered 30% of the total damage to its cultural assets, the report added. 

UNESCO said that losses are estimated at around $15.2 billion, which includes revenue losses from tourism, art, sports, entertainment, recreation, cultural education, and creative and cultural industries.  

“The war has significantly impacted the diversity and richness of culture and cultural heritage in Ukraine, causing damage to cultural infrastructure and assets, reducing livelihoods for cultural creators, bearers and practitioners, limiting access to culture, and impeding the exercise of cultural rights,” the report said.  

UNESCO’s head Audrey Azoulay is currently in Ukraine, the organization told CNN on Monday. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attends a news conference before a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium, on April 3.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said it will be historic when the military alliance raises the Finnish flag for the first time at its headquarters on Tuesday. 

“This is a historic week. Tomorrow we will welcome Finland as the 31st member of NATO, making Finland safer and our alliance stronger. We will raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at NATO Headquarters,” Stoltenberg said, speaking in Brussels Monday.

“It will be a good day for Finland’s security, for Nordic security, and for NATO as a whole,” Stoltenberg added.

Finland is set to become a member of the alliance on Tuesday, with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö traveling to Brussels to attend an accession ceremony at NATO headquarters.

Stoltenberg also spoke about Sweden’s bid to join NATO, saying Finland’s accession is “in itself something we should celebrate” but is also good for Sweden. 

“It makes Sweden more integrated into NATO and makes Sweden even more safer,” Stoltenberg said, adding “at the same time we celebrate and enjoy that Finland is now full-fledged member, we should continue work to finalize the Swedish accession process.”

CNN’s Laurent Kent contributed to this report.

At least 501 children have been killed in Ukraine since February 2022, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion, said Catherine Russell, executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“Another tragic milestone for Ukraine’s children and families,” Russell said in a tweet on Monday. 

Russell warned the real figure is “likely far higher” than the numbers verified by the UN agency.

Additionally, almost 1,000 Ukrainian children have been injured, “leaving them with wounds and scars - both visible and invisible - that could last for life,” she added.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's General Director Rafael Grossi addressing the media on the results of his visit to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Dnipro, Ukraine, on March 29.

The head of the United Nations nuclear agency, International Atomic Energy Agency, will travel to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad in the Baltics Wednesday to discuss the safety of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, a spokesperson for the agency told CNN. 

“IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi will visit Kaliningrad on Wednesday as part of his ongoing consultations aimed at ensuring the protection of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant during the military conflict,” the spokesperson said Monday.

The plant has been occupied by Russian forces since March of last year and is now run by the Russian atomic agency, Rosatom. 

The situation at the nuclear plant has not improved, according to the IAEA chief, who visited the facility last week and cited increased military activity in the area. 

Grossi during the visit said he was trying to formulate “realistic, viable proposals” that would be acceptable to both sides. 

Twelve Ukrainian prisoners have been returned home from captivity – 10 military and two civilians, Ukraine says.

Five of them were seriously wounded, according to the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

The soldiers were captured in various parts of the front lines, it added.

On March 24, “Ukraine voluntarily and unconditionally returned to Russia all five severely wounded prisoners who were transportable,” the headquarters said, but added that Russia had released “only five seriously wounded Ukrainians, not all of them, as required by the international conventions signed by Russia.”

The Russian decision showed “a blatant lack of interest in establishing further exchanges for particularly vulnerable categories of prisoners and civilian hostages,” the headquarters said. 

Since the beginning of the invasion in February last year, 2,005 Ukrainians have been released from captivity, according to the headquarters.

Municipal workers clean an area near the site of an explosion at the "Street Bar" cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia, on April 3.

Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin said Monday that he “gave” the St. Petersburg cafe, where an explosion killed Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky on Sunday, to the Cyber Front Z group, which hosted an event at the cafe. 

When asked to confirm whether he was the owner of the cafe, Prigozhin didn’t deny it, in comments published Monday by his holding company Concord on its VK social media page. 

“Indeed, I gave the cafe to the patriotic movement Cyber Front Z, and they held various seminars there,” Prigozhin said.

Russia’s independent news outlet Fontanka is reporting that the cafe belongs to Prigozhin, on the basis of the Concord company’s ownership mentioned on the cafe’s receipt. 

Prigozhin is the founder and sole owner of Concord, according to public records.

CNN has not been able to independently verify Prigozhin’s claims and whether he is the legal owner of the cafe.

In the same post, Prigozhin is also commenting on who may be behind the blast. 

“I do not know the details of the incident now, I was only informed that, unfortunately, Vladlen Tatarsky died. I don’t know about the rest of the details,” Prigozhin said.

“Most likely, this tragedy happened at the seminar. As for the death of Darya Dugina, yes, everything is similar,” he said referencing the death of the daughter of ultra-nationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin, who was killed by a car bomb on the outskirts of Moscow last year. 

“But I would not blame the Kyiv regime for these actions. I think that there is a group of radicals that is hardly related to the government. That’s what I would call it,” Prigozhin said. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has declined to make any comment about the explosion that killed Russian military journalist Vladlen Tatarsky in St. Petersburg on Sunday.

Zelensky said while on a tour of the northern Chernihiv region, “About St. Petersburg. I’m not thinking what is going on in St. Petersburg, or in Moscow. They have to think. Russia have to think about their cities. I’m thinking about our country. And our cities.”

Russia has arrested an anti-war activist named Daria Trepova in connection with the explosion that killed Tatarsky and injured at least 32 others at a cafe on Sunday.

Trepova’s husband Dmitry Rylov told the independent Russian publication The Insider that he is convinced his wife “was really just set up and used.”

Some more context: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said Ukraine may be behind the explosion. “There is evidence that the Ukrainian special services may be involved in the planning of this terrorist attack,” Peskov said. However, no evidence has yet been presented about who carried out the bombing.

Ukraine has said little about the explosion, beyond blaming in-fighting in Russia.

Two independent organizations in Russia — the Libertarian party and Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation — have denied any association with Trepova.

Reporter for U.S. newspaper The Wall Street Journal Evan Gershkovich in an undated handout image.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has filed an appeal against his arrest, according to the Russian state news agency TASS.

The agency cited the press service of the Lefortovo court in Moscow, where he was taken into custody last week.

“The court received a complaint from Gershkovich’s defense against the choice of a preventive measure in the form of detention,” TASS reported. 

No date for hearing the appeal has been set.

Gershkovich is currently being held in a pre-trial detention center at the notorious Lefortovo prison until May 29. He faces up to 20 years in prison on espionage charges. 

It is the first time an American journalist has been detained on accusations by Moscow of spying since the Cold War.

Pope Francis has called for prayers for “the war-torn people” of Ukraine in a tweet on Monday, just days after he was discharged from a hospital after being treated for a respiratory infection.  

Here’s what he said: 

Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia's Wagner mercenary force, speaks in a video message that was allegedly filmed near the city administration building in Bakhmut, Ukraine, in this still image from an undated video filmed through a night vision device and released on April 3.

Ukrainian officials have dismissed the claim made Sunday by Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin that “in legal terms” Russian forces hold the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut.

Prigozhin made the claim while raising a Russian flag in Bakhmut in honor of the murdered military journalist Vladlen Tatarsky. He said the flag was being raised at the site of the council building. Video later surfaced of a flag being raised amid some rubble.

Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the Eastern Grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, told CNN that “all administrative buildings in Bakhmut have been destroyed. I don’t even know which one he was talking about.”

“At night, he put some kind of a rag on some remnant of something, it was shown on some incomprehensible video from a thermal imager,” Cherevatyi said. The reality was that “they have not been able to capture Bakhmut for nine months.”

By contrast, the official said Ukrainian forces only raised the flag once enemy units are expelled and stabilization measures are undertaken. 

Cherevatyi said that a significant part of Bakhmut remains completely under the control of the Ukrainian defense forces, so this is “just more wishful thinking” on Prigozhin’s part. 

“We are able to deliver everything we need there, including ammunition, medicine, food, and to take the wounded out of there,” he told CNN, adding that “the situation is very difficult but under our control and there are no signs of a systemic breakthrough or any significant operational success.”

The Russians failed to surround Bakhmut and made no battlefield breakthroughs while still suffering heavy losses, Cherevatyi said.

“Over the past 24 hours alone, 154 occupiers were killed in the Bakhmut sector, primarily Wagner fighters, 144 were wounded, and one was taken prisoner,” the official said.

Chervatyi said that so far Wagner’s units continue to be the main Russian striking force in Bakhmut, but “because of significant losses, they are unable to act entirely on their own in this area today…We can see that airborne troops and motorized infantry units are being deployed.”

He said the Wagner chief tried to create the illusion of self-sufficiency, but had failed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also spoke about the battlefield Monday, alluding to the expectation that Ukrainian forces might soon launch a counteroffensive.

NATO allies are “united in [their] determination to stay the course and support Ukraine for as long as it takes,” NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference Monday.  

The secretary general warned that “any provision of lethal aid by China to Russia” would be a “major mistake,” but also highlighted that NATO has not seen any changes in Russia’s “nuclear posture” that requires any response from NATO.  

“We do not know when this war will end, but when it does, we will need to put in place arrangements so that Ukraine can deter future aggression and history does not repeat itself,” Stoltenberg said. “We cannot allow Russia to continue to chip away at European security.” 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference prior to the meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Brussels, Belgium, on April 3.

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called for the “immediate release” of US national Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was arrested in Russia on spying charges last Friday.

“I join the United States in their call on Russia to release the American journalist Evan Gershkovich,” Stoltenberg said in a news conference Monday. “His arrest is of concern. It is important to respect freedom of the press, the rights of journalists, and the rights to ask questions and to do their jobs. Therefore, we call on his immediate release.” 

Russian authorities detained Gershkovich last week and accused him of spying, signaling a significant ratcheting of both Moscow’s tensions with the United States and its campaign against foreign news media, which has been under intense pressure since President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. The Wall Street Journal categorically rejected those allegations, saying in a statement that it “vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter.”

Russia has arrested an anti-war activist named Daria Trepova in connection with the explosion which killed prominent blogger Vladlen Tatarsky and injured at least 32 others at a cafe in St. Petersburg on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Finland is set to officially become a member of the NATO military alliance at an accession ceremony in Brussels on Tuesday.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Russia arrests suspect over St. Petersburg explosion: A suspect has been detained in connection with the explosion that killed ultranationalist military blogger Tatarsky at a cafe in St. Petersburg on Sunday. Officials claim that Trepova worked with agents of the Ukrainian special services and associates of the jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.