Ukraine war live updates: Zelenskyy to meet with top US officials in Kyiv

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy walks ahead of a press conference in a city subway under a central square in Kyiv on 23 April 2022

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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 and south 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.

09:37

Sunday’s key points:

    Ukraine’s president says he will meet with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin on Sunday.

    Russian shelling of urban areas in the east of Ukraine continued over the Easter weekend, with the death toll in the Luhansk region reaching eight by Sunday morning.

    Zelenskyy told the journalists gathered at a Kyiv metro station on Saturday that he would meet with Vladimir Putin if it meant the end of the war.

    However, Zelenskyy also emphasised that all negotiations would be over if Russian troops end up killing the besieged Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol.

    Moldova summoned the Russian ambassador in protest at a Russian general’s comments that Moscow wants to capture southern Ukraine to gain access to the breakaway region of Transnistria.

    Ukrainian officials say Russia continues to assault 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.

    OSCE said it was extremely concerned about the arrest of its monitors in Ukraine, declining to comment on how many were arrested, where or by whom. 

    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.

13:31

Civilians in Mariupol ‘must be allowed to evacuate now’, UN says

The United Nations on Sunday called for an “immediate” truce in Mariupol to allow the evacuation of some 100,000 civilians still trapped in this Ukrainian port city that Moscow claims it has under almost complete control.

“We need a pause in the fighting right now to save lives. The longer we wait, the more lives will be at risk. They must be allowed to evacuate now, today. Tomorrow will be too late,” UN coordinator in Ukraine Amin Awad said in a statement.

Kyiv said earlier on Sunday that Russian forces were continuing to shell the city on the Sea of Azov, which has been under siege since early March by the Russian army, including the Azovstal steel plant, the last pocket of resistance by Ukrainian fighters.

“The Russian enemy continues to fire at and blockade our units in Azovstal, including by air strikes,” the Ukrainian General Staff said in a statement.

13:00

OSCE concerned about arrest of its observers in Ukraine

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) says it is extremely concerned about the detention of several Ukrainian members of its monitoring mission in the country’s east.

In a brief statement Sunday, the Vienna-based body said that it is “using all available channels to facilitate their release.” A spokesperson declined to specify how many national mission members were detained, when or by whom.

Several OSCE observers have been killed or injured since the body’s 57 participating states established a mission to monitor the conflict in eastern Ukraine eight years ago. Russia recently vetoed an extension of the mission.

12:08

Zelenskyy advisor asks Moscow to announce Easter truce and let civilians leave Mariupol plant

A Ukrainian presidential adviser has urged Russia to allow civilians to leave a steel mill in Mariupol besieged by the Russian forces.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, appealed to Russia on Twitter to announce a truce in Mariupol on Orthodox Easter Sunday and immediately open a humanitarian corridor for civilians holed up at the giant Azovstal steel plant.

He also challenged Russia to conduct a round of talks to negotiate an exit for the Ukrainian defenders of the plant.

The Russian military is attacking the plant with heavy bombs and artillery barrage and is accumulating forces and equipment for an assault, Podolyak said.

11:27

Eastern Orthodox faithful in Ukraine celebrate Easter amid fears of Russian attacks

While some Ukrainians approached the Eastern holiday with defiance, others shared the concern of the authorities that Russian forces could increase the bombardment of Ukrainian towns and cities over the holiday weekend.

A number of local leaders tightened the curfew measures until a country-wide curfew was imposed on Saturday. Citizens were asked not to leave their homes unless necessary, while churches postponed all religious services until Sunday morning.

Read more here:

Ukrainians celebrate uneasy Easter as fear looms of Russian attacks

euronewsAs the Eastern Orthodox faithful celebrate Easter on Sunday, the holiday is a sombre occasion in the country at war.

09:52

Two Russian generals killed, one wounded in attack on Kherson command post, Ukrainian army claims 

The Ukrainian military said it destroyed a Russian command post in Kherson, a southern city that fell to Russian forces early in the war.

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency posted a statement on Saturday saying the command post was hit on Friday and two generals were killed and one was critically wounded.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said in an online interview that 50 senior Russian officers were in the command centre when it came under attack. He said their fate was unknown.

The Russian military did not comment on the claim, which could not be independently confirmed.

09:51

Several civilians killed in Russian bombardment of Donbas, authorities say

Russia has pressed its attacks in the eastern Donbas region, intensifying offensive and assault operations toward the cities of Popasna and Siverodonetsk in Luhansk, and Kurakhiv in Donetsk.

Luhansk region Governor Serhiy Haidai said Sunday that eight people were killed and two others were wounded in a Russian barrage Saturday.

The shelling comes as the Russians are pressing their offensive in a bid to gain full control over Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.

Moscow forces also shelled the Dnipro region west of Donbas, where at least one person was killed by a Russian missile, according to Dnipro regional Governor Valentyn Reznichenko.

09:24

Russian army continues assault on Mariupol plant

Russian forces have continued to pummel the besieged Azovstal plant, hitting it with airstrikes, including by long-range aircraft, Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesman for the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff, said Sunday.

Russia has been trying to take Mariupol for nearly two months, a city whose capture would deprive Ukraine of a vital port, free up Russian troops to fight elsewhere.

It would also establish a land corridor between the Russia-backed separatists-controlled parts of the Donbas and the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized in 2014.

Some 2,000 troops have been fighting tenaciously to hold on to the last remaining Ukrainian outpost in the city, the Azovstal steel plant, which also has civilians taking refuge in its labyrinthine tunnel system.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had given an order not to send troops in but instead to blockade the plant last week, but the assault resumed Saturday after the Ukrainian soldiers refused to surrender.

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