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Biden calls Russian atrocities 'genocide'

But Putin remains defiant, saying that “there is no doubt that we will achieve our goals.”

Coverage on this live blog has ended, please click here for the latest updates.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Russia was committing “genocide” in Ukraine.

“It has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian,” Biden said of the invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Tuesday marked the first time Biden has used the word “genocide” to refer to atrocities during Russia’s attack on Ukraine, although he has called Putin a war criminal.

Putin remains defiant in the face of growing condemnation over the invasion, saying, “There is no doubt that we will achieve our goals.”

Russian forces appear poised to intensify their attacks in eastern Ukraine, where the besieged city of Mariupol is located. Ukrainian forces have held out for weeks in the strategic city, but fears are growing for civilians trapped without basic supplies.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he takes the possibility of chemical weapons' being used "as seriously as possible" and urges the West to send more weapons to help lift the siege.
  •  The White House could announce a new $750 million military aid package for Ukraine as early as this week, U.S. officials said.
  • Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko has said more than 10,000 civilians have been killed in the key port city since Russia invaded.
  • Zelenskyy has accused Russian forces of leaving “thousands” of mines behind in the north before pulling out of the region.
  • See our full coverage here.

More than 720 civilians killed in Kyiv region, 200 missing, Ukraine says

Anna Tsybko

Phil Helsel and Anna Tsybko

More than 720 civilians have been killed in the Kyiv region of Ukraine since Russia attacked and occupied the area before withdrawing, the Ukrainian interior ministry said. At least 200 people are missing.

The mayor of the Kyiv suburb of Bucha said Tuesday that 403 bodies have been recovered there. Corpses in civilian clothes seen strewn in the streets of Bucha after Russian forces left have sparked international outrage.

Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk said that Tuesday morning, teams started recovering bodies that were found in a second mass grave. He said the 403 people had been murdered.

The more than 720 bodies identified were in Kyiv oblast, which is similar to a province, the interior ministry said. Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, tweeted Tuesday that six civilians were found shot to death in a basement in the Kyiv region, and she called it an atrocity carried out by Russia’s army.

Pentagon to meet with defense companies about Ukraine weapons needs

Mosheh Gains

The Defense Department will meet Wednesday with leaders of the top eight U.S. defense manufacturers to discuss capacity if Russia’s war against Ukraine goes on for years, a Pentagon official said.

The U.S. has been supplying military aid to Ukraine since the invasion began Feb. 24.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said she planned to meet with Raytheon’s CEO on Tuesday and had planned to meet with others at a roundtable Wednesday.

“What can we do to help them? What do they need to generate supply?” she said.

The White House is preparing to announce a new military aid package for Ukraine that could be worth $750 million, three senior administration officials said.

Zelenskyy tweets ‘true words’ after Biden accuses Russia of genocide

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted “true words of a true leader” after President Joe Biden said Tuesday that atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine amounted to genocide.

“Calling things by their names is essential to stand up to evil,” Zelenskyy wrote in the tweet, which was directed at Biden.

Biden used the word “genocide” in Iowa on Tuesday in reference to Russia’s attack on Ukraine and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian.”

Russia has been accused of committing war crimes in Ukraine, including after images of bodies of people in civilian clothes in Bucha after Russian forces left. Zelenskyy has said a missile attack on a railway station in Kramatorsk was a war crime. U.S. officials have also assessed that Russian forces have committed war crimes, citing indiscriminate attacks and attacks on civilian targets. Russia has denied targeting civilians and has tried to claim that the scene at Bucha was "staged."

Zelenskyy proposes exchange of Medvedchuk for Ukrainians held by Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy proposed in a video Tuesday exchanging pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk for Ukrainians held by Russia.

Zelenskyy said Medvedchuk, who had been under house arrest but escaped days after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, had been detained as he was trying to flee Ukraine.

Zelenskyy posted a photo earlier Tuesday appearing to show Medvedchuck in handcuffs and a military uniform, which Zelenskyy referred to as a disguise.

“Well, if Medvedchuk chose a military uniform for himself, he falls under the rules of wartime. I propose to the Russian Federation to exchange this guy of yours for our boys and girls in Russian captivity,” Zelenskyy said.

Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian politician, was one of the leaders of the now-disbanded Opposition Platform for Life Party. He became a state treason suspect last year in an alleged coal-buying scheme.

Putin says talks with Ukraine at ‘dead end’

Phil Helsel and Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that talks with Ukraine are at a “dead end” and that the invasion and the war he launched in February would continue.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators held talks in Istanbul last month. Putin accused Ukraine of changing positions and said an “inconsistency” created problems in reaching any agreement.

“Until it happens, the military operation will continue until its full completion and achievement of the targets set at the start of the operation,” Putin said in Belarus.

Ukraine negotiator David Arakhamia denied that Ukraine has changed its position. He said negotiations continue online.

“The Ukrainian side adheres to the Istanbul Communiqué and has not changed its position,” he said in a statement.

Biden suggests Putin is a ‘dictator’ who has committed ‘genocide half a world away’

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden bemoaned the spike in gas prices as being driven by a “dictator” who committed “genocide half a world away” in a speech Tuesday, apparently a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine.

In remarks in Iowa, the president blamed Putin for recent price hikes at the pump. “Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide half a world away,” he said.

Biden had stopped short on April 5 of labeling the atrocities in Bucha as "genocide" when reporters asked him whether Russian actions there fit that definition. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said then that the killings documented in Ukraine did not rise to the level of “genocide” as defined by the U.S. government.

The State Department has a lengthy internal process for determining whether mass killing amounts to genocide, including collecting evidence over time.

Read the full story here.

Biden may announce $750 million in military aid for Ukraine

Carol E. LeeCarol E. Lee is the Washington managing editor.

WASHINGTON — The White House is preparing to announce a new military aid package for Ukraine as early as this week, with equipment that appears specifically intended to help Ukrainian forces fight Russia in the eastern Donbas region, three senior administration officials said.

Two U.S. officials said the aid package could be worth $750 million. The package is likely to include new capabilities, such as unmanned surface vehicles — sometimes called sea drones or drone ships — and Mi-17 helicopters, according to a U.S. official and a senior defense official.

Read the full story here.

Pentagon, arms makers to discuss Ukraine security needs

Mosheh Gains

WASHINGTON — Defense Department officials will meet with eight U.S. defense contractors Wednesday to talk about Ukraine's future security needs, a Pentagon official said.

The meeting is part of ongoing dialogue to "ensure a resilient industrial base that is responsive to the department's needs," the official said.

"To continue to support this protracted conflict, we are engaging in strategically focused discussions with industry to ensure we are prepared as a nation to support the long-term needs of the Ukrainian people, our own national security needs and those of our allies and our partners," the official said.

Top pro-Russian politician in Ukraine seen in handcuffs

Veronika Melkozerova

Anastasiia Parafeniuk

Veronika Melkozerova and Anastasiia Parafeniuk
Viktor Medvedchuk, a top pro-Russian politician in Ukraine, wears handcuffs in a picture posted on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Telegram account.
Viktor Medvedchuk, a top pro-Russian politician in Ukraine, wears handcuffs in a picture posted on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Telegram account.@V_Zelenskiy_official via Telegram

A leading pro-Russian politician in Ukraine was shown in fatigues and handcuffs in a photo Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted Tuesday on Telegram.

Viktor Medvedchuck, one of the leaders of the now-disbanded Opposition Platform for Life Party, had been under house arrest until he escaped four days after the war started, and he had been on the run ever since.

He was considered one of the closest Ukrainian politicians to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he became a state treason suspect last year in an alleged coal-buying scheme.

Investigators and counterintelligence officers with Ukraine’s special forces conducted a “lightning-fast and dangerous multilevel special operation" to detain Medvedchuck at the instruction of Zelenskyy, ​​Ivan Bakanov, the chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine, said in a statement on social media. 

“No traitor will escape punishment,” Bakanov said.

Russian troops moving toward Donetsk and Slobozhansky

The Ukrainian armed forces said in a statement Tuesday that Russian troops were “moving to areas of concentration” in the direction of the Slobozhansky and Donetsk regions.

Both the threat of missile attacks throughout the country and the “intensification of actions of Russian troops” toward Donetsk and Luhansk remained high, according to the statement posted on Facebook.

Russia is looking to intensify its attack on the eastern part of the country as the fight for the city of Mariupol continues.

84,000 homes in Mariupol destroyed

Mariia Ulianovska

The Mariupol City Council posted on Telegram on Tuesday that the homes of 84,000 residents have been destroyed in Russia's attack on Ukraine.

The number represents 40 percent of the city's highrise buildings, it said.

"It takes $2.3 billion to build that much housing and create at least basic living conditions there," the council said.

Russia has launched more than 1,540 missiles, senior official says

Russia has launched more than 1,540 missiles to date during the invasion of Ukraine, a senior defense official told NBC News on Tuesday.

A convoy of vehicles that the U.S. assesses is intended to resupply Russian forces and is about 37 miles (67 km) north of Izyum, in eastern Ukraine, and moving, but it remains unclear exactly where it is going, the official said.

The U.S. cannot confirm the use of chemical agents in the attacks on the now destroyed city of Mariupol, but it is still evaluating and monitoring reports, the official said.

The biggest challenge is that the U.S. is not there, making it more difficult to confirm the reports. The official said if “riot control agents” were used it would be harder to determine because it could impact a smaller group of people and may not get into the soil.

The official said the Russians have a propensity to use chemical agents in the past so the U.S. is taking the unconfirmed claims seriously.

Zelenskyy urges E.U. to impose tougher sanctions on Russian oil, banks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the European Union Tuesday to impose tougher sanctions on Russian oil and banks as the invasion of Ukraine continues.

 “We must do everything needed right now in the sixth package of sanctions. The European Union can do it and must do it,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to the Lithuanian government. “Oil must be sanctioned, all Russian banks must be sanctioned. Each E.U. state must set terms for when they will refuse, or at least substantially limit, Russian energy sources such as gas and oil.” 

“Only then will the Russian government understand they ended to seek real peace, that the war is turning into a catastrophe for them,” he said.

Russia's ruling party submits legislation to allow 'external management' of foreign companies

Dylan Duan

Russia's ruling party United Russia submitted legislation for approval by the lower house of parliament on Tuesday outlining a plan for the "external management" of foreign companies that have announced their withdrawal from Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

If approved, the legislation would allow the external management of companies found to be exiting Russia "without obvious economic reasons." The party said the proposal’s aim was to “protect the interest of Russians, preserve jobs and support the economy.”

It comes as a sweeping number of companies have suspended operations in Russia or announced plans to do so.

NBC News

Pastor prays for peace, but wonders at what price?

Gabe Gutierrez

Erika Angulo

Gabe Gutierrez and Erika Angulo
Pastor Vasyl Ostryi helps run the Irpin Bible Church.
Vasyl Ostryi outside the Irpin Bible Church where hundreds of Ukrainians sought shelter during the Russian attack on the city.Erika Angulo / NBC News

IRPIN, Ukraine — Vasyl Ostryi, 41, a pastor, helps run the Irpin Bible Church, which became a refuge for Ukrainians seeking shelter when the Russian shelling of the city northwest of Kyiv began.

Ostryi said it was “chaos” while hundreds of Ukrainians packed into the church’s underground bomb shelter for days and prayed for peace during the attacks. 

"People who want to make peace, they tried to do some steps," he said in English. "Russian soldiers and Russian Federation, they destroyed our cities, they destroyed our country."

Asked if he would agree to carve out the Donbas region for Russia in exchange for a cease-fire, he paused and continued in his native language, Ukrainian. 

"Can a person give up their hand, their arm for peace?" he said through a translator.

Ukraine says Russian cyberattack sought to shut down energy grid

Russian military hackers tried and failed to attack Ukraine’s energy infrastructure last week, the country’s government and a major cybersecurity company said Tuesday.

The attack was designed to infiltrate computers connected to multiple substations, then delete all files, which would shut that infrastructure down, according to Ukraine’s summary of the attack.

Read more on this developing story here.

Putin says situation in Ukraine is a 'tragedy,' but military operation going as planned

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the situation in Ukraine a "tragedy" on Tuesday, but defended Moscow's invasion as a "noble" mission that he said was going to plan.

"What is happening in Ukraine is a tragedy, but Russia had no choice," Putin said, speaking at a joint news conference with Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko following a visit to the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.

The Russian leader further maintained that his plans in Ukraine were on track, according to the Interfax news agency, despite his military's apparent failures on the ground.

Noting growing Western sanctions again Russia and Belarus, Putin said the two countries would “continue to jointly resist any attempts to slow down the development of our countries or artificially isolate them from the global economy.” Lukashenko reinforced that stance, saying: “No sanctions will lead Russia and Belarus astray.”

NBC News

Putin says Russia 'had no other choice' than to invade Ukraine, vows Moscow will achieve its goals

The Associated Press

Chantal Da Silva and The Associated Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his government "had no other choice" but to launch what Moscow has described as a "special military operation" in Ukraine. However, he said “there is no doubt that we will achieve our goals.”

Speaking during a visit to the Vostochny space port in Russia’s Far East on Tuesday, Putin reiterated Moscow's claims that its invasion is aimed at protecting those living in regions of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed rebels.

Putin claimed Ukraine was turning into an "anti-Russian bridgehead" where "sprouts of nationalism and neo-Nazism were being cultivated," reiterating accusations that Ukrainian officials and western allies have dismissed as a baseless pretext for war.

'Danger was always there' with Putin, Obama says

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Former President Barack Obama said in an exclusive interview on NBC's "TODAY" show that the threat from Russian President Vladimir Putin always existed, but suggested his current behavior wouldn't have been anticipated a decade ago.

NBC's Al Roker asked the former president if the Russian president is the same Putin he dealt with during his two terms in the White House.

"He has always been somebody who's wrapped up in this twisted distorted sense of grievance and ethnic nationalism — that part of Putin, I think, has always been there," Obama said.

"What we’ve seen with the invasion of Ukraine is him being reckless in a way that you might not have anticipated eight, 10 years ago, but the danger was always there," he added.

Poland arrests a Russian national suspected of spying

Poland has arrested a Russian national and charged him with espionage, officials announced Tuesday.

In a statement published online, a spokesperson for the Polish minister coordinator of special services said evidence gathered by the country's military counterintelligence suggested the man had "collected information" on the military readiness of the Polish armed forces and NATO troops at the behest of Russian special services.

The spokesperson said the man, who had been living in Poland for 18 years, was initially detained April 6 and will be held in custody for at least three months.

It comes after Poland expelled 45 Russian diplomats suspected of working for Russian intelligence back in March. Moscow responded with the expulsion of 45 Polish diplomats earlier this month.

Japan approves new sanctions, including asset freezes on Putin's daughters 

Ayumi Fujimoto

Arata Yamamoto

Ayumi Fujimoto and Arata Yamamoto

Japan’s Cabinet approved additional sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, moving to freeze the assets of 398 individuals, including Russian President Vladimir Putin's two daughters.

Putin's daughters, Katerina Tikhonova and Mariya Vorontsova, were named on the list alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s wife, Mariya Lavrova, and Ekaterina Vinokurova, his daughter.

The new measures also aim to freeze the assets of major banks and a number of other organizations, in addition to banning new investments and Russian imports, including vodka and auto parts.

Nokia to exit Russian market, as efforts to keep network continue

Dylan Duan

Nokia said it will exit the Russian market in an announcement Tuesday.

"It has been clear for Nokia since the early days of the invasion of Ukraine that continuing our presence in Russia would not be possible," the telecommunications company said. "Over the last weeks we have suspended deliveries, stopped new business and are moving our limited R&D activities out of Russia," it said, referring to research and development.

Nokia said it would continue to provide "the necessary support" to maintain networks, however, and would be applying for relevant licenses to enable that support in compliance with current sanctions. 

The company said providing such support is in line with concerns raised by Western governments about the risk of a failing telecommunication network infrastructure in Russia and the importance of ensuring access for Russians to "outside perspectives."

“This is the most responsible course of action for Nokia to take as we exit the Russian market,” the company said.

Russia cannot be isolated, Putin says during a meeting with Lukashenko

Dylan Duan


Dylan Duan and Reuters

Russia cannot be isolated, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday during a news briefing held with his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko.

Putin toured the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a space port in Russia's Far East, with Lukashenko during the visit. The trip came 61 years after the then-Soviet Union's Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.

Putin touted the success of the Soviet space program as proof Russia could achieve success despite challenging conditions.

“The sanctions were total, the isolation was complete but the Soviet Union was still first in space,” he said, according to Russian state television.

“We don’t intend to be isolated,” Putin reportedly said. “It is impossible to severely isolate anyone in the modern world — especially such a vast country as Russia.”

U.K. says all 'options are on the table' if chemical weapons were used in Mariupol

Dylan Duan

The United Kingdom has warned that all "options are on the table" if Russia has used chemical weapons in its attacks on the besieged port city of Mariupol.

Speaking with Sky News on Tuesday, British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said the British government has not been able to verify unconfirmed reports on the potential use of chemical weapons in Mariupol, but was investigating the matter.

NBC News could not verify the reports. They were denied by a leader of Russian-backed separatist forces in the region.

Heappey warned that if chemical weapons "are used at all, then (Russian President Vladimir Putin) should know that all possible options are on the table in terms of how the West might respond."

Heappey did not elaborate on what the potential options were. He said it was "useful to maintain some ambiguity" over what the response would be.

NBC News

Japan 'seriously concerned' about the possibility of nuclear weapon use in Ukraine

Arata Yamamoto

Arata Yamamoto and Chantal Da Silva

The Japanese government has said it is "seriously concerned" about the possibility of nuclear weapons being used during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“As the only country to have experienced nuclear warfare, we will continue to call on nations never to use nuclear weapons as a threat, much less actually use it,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a news conference Tuesday.

The comments came after he was asked to respond to reports on possible "procedures" Russia has in place around the use of nuclear weapons.

Matsuno said he would refrain from commenting on the “details of the operations of other countries’ armed forces.”

Russian speaker raises possibility of stripping ‘traitors’ of citizenship

Russia’s State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin raised the possibility Monday of taking away the citizenship of Russians who speak out against what Moscow calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

In a Telegram post, Volodin said there was currently no procedure in place to strip "such citizens of the Russian Federation” of their citizenship and ban them from entering Russia. "But perhaps it would be right," he added.

Volodin used the example of Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian TV employee who interrupted a widely viewed evening news broadcast by holding a “No war” sign last month, saying she got a job at a German newspaper as a reward for her on-air "trick" from the State Department. He did not provide any evidence for his claim.

"Now she will work for one of the NATO countries, justify the supply of weapons to Ukrainian neo-Nazis, sending mercenaries who will fight against our soldiers and officers, and the sanctions imposed against the Russian Federation," Volodin said, referring to Ovsyannikova.

9 humanitarian corridors agreed for Tuesday

Ayumi Fujimoto

Mariia Ulianovska

Ayumi Fujimoto and Mariia Ulianovska

Nine humanitarian corridors have been agreed to open Tuesday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

An evacuation route will be opened from the besieged port city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, but only for those using private transport. Routes to Zaporizhzhia are also expected to open from Berdyansk, Tokmak and Enerhodar, she said in a Telegram post. 

Vereshchuk said buses from Zaporizhzhia were also waiting to pass a checkpoint in Vasylivka.

Evacuation routes to Bakhmut are also expected to be open Tuesday for those fleeing a number of cities, including Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna, Hirske and Rubizhne. 

Russian-backed forces deny using chemical weapons in Mariupol, Interfax reports

Russian-backed separatist forces did not use chemical weapons in their attacks on Mariupol, a separatist commander has said, according to the Interfax news agency.

The assertions from separatist commander Eduard Basurin came after the British and the Australian governments said they were investigating unconfirmed reports Russian forces may have used chemical agents while attacking Mariupol. NBC News has not been able to verify the reports.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said that officials were working to verify the reports.

Malyar said that "according to preliminary data, it could have been phosphorus munitions" that were possibly used. NBC News could not verify that claim. The deputy defense minister said "official information" would be provided later.

Mariupol mayor says more than 10,000 civilians have died in the besieged port city

The Associated Press

Chantal Da Silva and The Associated Press

More than 10,000 civilians have died in Mariupol since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the mayor of the besieged port city has said.

Speaking with The Associated Press, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said that bodies are now "carpeted through the streets" of the besieged city. He said that the death toll in Mariupol alone could surpass 20,000. NBC News was unable to independently verify the reported death toll.

More than 100,000 civilians remain trapped in an increasingly dire humanitarian situation in the strategic city as they continue to be blocked from access to water, heat, medicine and other essentials. Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of blocking attempted humanitarian convoys and hampering efforts to evacuate residents.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine to intensify in the weeks ahead, U.K. says

Fighting in eastern Ukraine is expected to intensify "over the next two to three weeks" as Russia continues to refocus its efforts there, the British defense ministry has said. 

In an intelligence update Tuesday, it said Russian attacks remained focused on Ukrainian positions near Donetsk and Luhansk, with further fighting unfolding around Kherson and Mykolaiv.

It also noted a "renewed push" toward Kramatorsk, where a recent attack on a railway station left dozens of people dead. Russia has denied responsibility for the attack and has consistently denied targeting civilians in its assault on Ukraine.

It said Russian forces have continued to withdraw from Belarus as they look to redeploy to support operations in eastern Ukraine.

Nearly half of the children in Ukraine face hunger, U.N. official says

Nearly half of the children who remain in Ukraine in the midst of a brutal war following Russia’s invasion are at risk of not having enough food, a UNICEF official said Monday.

Manuel Fontaine, the agency’s emergency programs director, gave the troubling statistic in a United Nations speech in which he also said that two-thirds of Ukraine’s children have been displaced.

“Of the 3.2 million children estimated to have remained in their homes, nearly half may be at risk of not having enough food,” he said. Children and families are under attack in the country, he said.

Fontaine said in a statement that “the war continues to be a nightmare for Ukraine’s children.” More than 11 million people have been displaced, either inside the country or forced to flee to neighboring countries, he said. Many are women and children.

Scenes of war in Mariupol
A mother and daughter stand outside their destroyed home in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 3, 2022.Maximilian Clarke / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images file