People watch as smoke rises in the air after shelling in Odesa, 3 April 2022
AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris
Russian forces have now shifted their focus to the offensive in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine.
Heavy shelling and fighting have continued in the east as Russia’s army attempts to establish control over the region.
Follow the latest updates from Ukraine in our blog below or watch our TV coverage in the video player above.
Saturday’s key points:
The content of the article:
- 1 Saturday’s key points:
- 2 Russian-speaking Latvians protest Moscow invasion
- 3 Easter curfew extended to entire Ukraine amid fears Russian attacks could escalate
- 4 Cruise missiles fired at Odesa kill five, Ukrainian official says
- 5 Russian troops attacking Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Zelenskyy’s advisor claims
- 6 Lviv under new curfew rules from Easter weekend
- 7 Moscow extends ban on flights to cities bordering Ukraine to 1 May
- 8 Mykolaiv governor extends Easter curfew fearing Russian attacks
- 9 Civilians to try to evacuate from Mariupol on Saturday, Kyiv says
- 10 Zelenskyy criticises Russia over human rights abuses at home
Russian shelling of urban areas in the east of Ukraine continued on Saturday, with reports of at least two civilians dead in the eastern city of Popasna and another two in the Kharkiv region.
Moldova summoned the Russian ambassador in protest at a Russian general’s comments that Moscow wants to capture southern Ukraine to gain access to a breakaway Moldovan region.
UN accuses Russia of actions that ‘could amount to war crimes,’ claiming its armed forces have ‘indiscriminately bombarded and shelled populated areas’.
Ukrainian official says fighting has not stopped at the besieged Azovstal steel mill where the country’s fighters are holding out. Putin previously told Russian forces not to storm the industrial site and instead seal it off.
Russia FM blames Ukraine for halted peace talks, saying ‘they have put up with their destiny’.
At least 594 children have been killed or injured so far due to war in Ukraine, the country’s parliament says.
Russian-speaking Latvians protest Moscow invasion
Hundreds of protesters belonging to Latvia’s sizable Russian-speaking community have taken part in a large-scale demonstration in the Baltic nation’s capital, Riga, condemning the Kremlin regime and Moscow’s aggression on Ukraine.
Participants of Saturday’s rally entitled “The Russian Voice Against War” waved Ukrainian flags and posters with inscriptions such as “Stop the genocide in Ukraine” and “Complete Russian gas and oil embargo” at the central Freedom Monument, Latvia’s public broadcaster LSM reported.
Organizers said the protest aimed to demonstrate that many of Latvia’s Russian speakers are not aligned with Vladimir Putin. In a statement, they called Moscow’s actions “criminal”.
Ethnic Russians make up around 25% of the 1.9 million population in Latvia, a former Soviet republic.
Adding other national groups, like Belarusians and Ukrainians, the share of Russian speakers is about 30% of all citizens.
Earlier this week, Latvia’s Parliament unanimously declared the killings of civilians in areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces, including Bucha, Irpin and Mariupol, to be acts of genocide.
Easter curfew extended to entire Ukraine amid fears Russian attacks could escalate
A top Ukrainian official has announced a country-wide curfew for the night of the Orthodox Easter.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said in a video address Saturday that in the regions most affected by the invasion — Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson — the curfew will run from 7 pm Saturday until 5 am Sunday.
In other regions, including Kyiv, Odesa, Chernihiv and Lviv, the curfew will run from 11 pm Saturday until 5 am Sunday.
Ukrainian intelligence services stated earlier on Saturday that intercepted Russian troops communications raised the alarm that Russian attacks could escalate during Easter weekend, celebrated by Eastern Orthodox faithful on 24 April.
Russian soldiers were also reported to have been seen writing “Christ has risen” on shells, a claim that could not be independently confirmed.
Cruise missiles fired at Odesa kill five, Ukrainian official says
An adviser to Ukraine’s president says five people including a three-month-old infant were killed in a missile attack in the Black Sea port city of Odesa.
Ukraine presidential chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, provided the information Saturday.
An adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister earlier said Russian forces fired at least six cruise missiles at the city.
Anton Gerashchenko said in a Telegram post on Saturday that Ukrainian forces were able to shoot down several missiles, but at least one landed and exploded.
“Residents of the city heard explosions in different areas,” Gerashchenko wrote. “Residential buildings were hit.”
Russian troops attacking Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Zelenskyy’s advisor claims
An adviser to Ukraine’s presidential office says Russian forces are attacking a steel plant that is the last defence stronghold of Ukrainian forces in the strategic port city of Mariupol.
Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said during a briefing on Saturday that the Russian forces have resumed airstrikes on Azovstal and were trying to storm it.
“The enemy is trying to completely suppress resistance of the defenders of Mariupol in the area of Azovstal,” Arestovich said.
Arestovich’s statement came two days after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin that the whole of Mariupol, with the exception of Azovstal, had been “liberated” by the Russians.
Putin ordered the Russian military not to storm the plant and instead to block it off in an apparent attempt to stifle the remaining pocket of resistance there.
Moscow’s claim that Mariupol is now under Russian control could not be independently confirmed.
Ukrainian officials have estimated that about 2,000 of their troops are inside the plant along with about 1,000 sheltering in the facility’s underground tunnels.
Arestovich says the Ukrainian fighters are still holding on despite the resumed attacks and are even trying to counter them.
Lviv under new curfew rules from Easter weekend
The regional governor of Lviv, Maksym Kozytskyy, has announced a curfew starting on Orthodox Easter night.
Citing “new intelligence,” Kozytskyy said the curfew would run from 11 pm on Saturday to 5 am on Sunday, and then every day between those hours until further notice.
“Unfortunately, the enemy doesn’t have such a concept as a major religious holiday,” Kozytskyy wrote. “They are so beastly that they don’t understand what Easter is.”
Kozytskyy said the church leadership is in support of the decision and that all churches in the region will be postponing their Easter night services until the morning hours.
Moscow extends ban on flights to cities bordering Ukraine to 1 May
Temporary flight restrictions at 11 Russian airports have been extended until 1 May, the Federal Air Transport Agency stated on Saturday.
The agency also told the domestic air carriers to continue rerouting their flights using “alternative routes” to Moscow and Sochi, among others.
Civilian flights to the airports of the likes of Belgorod, Voronezh and Rostov-on-Don — all near the Ukrainian border — have been restricted since the beginning of the Russian invasion on 24 February.
With a few exceptions, European countries have closed their air space to Russian-owned or operated aircraft as part of sanctions triggered by the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine.
Mykolaiv governor extends Easter curfew fearing Russian attacks
Mykolaiv regional governor Vitaliy Kim asked the citizens to stay at home on Easter Saturday night and “not go anywhere today and tomorrow”.
“I ask everyone to stay home tonight. There is a possibility that the enemy is preparing something malicious,” Kim said on Telegram.
The region was shelled overnight on Friday, but there were no victims, Kim added.
Eastern Orthodox faithful across a number of countries including Ukraine and Russia celebrate Easter on 24 April.
Civilians to try to evacuate from Mariupol on Saturday, Kyiv says
A new attempt to evacuate civilians from the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, largely controlled by the Russian army, is scheduled for Saturday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
“Today we are trying again to evacuate women, children and the elderly,” she said on Facebook, adding that civilians had started gathering near a shopping centre in the city and hoped to start evacuating around 12 pm local time (10 am GMT).
Zelenskyy criticises Russia over human rights abuses at home
The Kremlin should take care of its own citizens and their own rights instead of waging war in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address on Friday.
“To be honest, the territory in which Russia should take care of the rights of Russian speakers in Russia itself,” Zelenskyy commented.
“Where there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of choice. Where there is simply no right to dissent. Where poverty thrives and where human life is worthless.”
Continuing with the critical tone, Zelenskyy added that the Russian dream used to be “to see Paris and die,” but that now “it is to steal a toilet [in Ukraine] and die.”