Russian forces resume airstrikes on Mariupol steel plant, Ukrainian presidential adviser says

Russian forces have resumed airstrikes on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said on Saturday.

“The enemy is trying to strangle the final resistance of the defenders of Mariupol in the Azovstal region,” Arestovych said in a speech on state television.

“They have resumed airstrikes on the territory of the factory,” he said, adding that Ukrainian troops would try to carry out assault operations in the area.

“Our defenders are holding on despite the very difficult situation and are even making counterattacks,” Arestovych said.

NBC News could not verify his claims.

Lugansk under constant shelling by Russian forces, governor says

The Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine is under constant bombardment by Russian forces, its governor said on Saturday.

“Here, the bombardments do not stop. It happens constantly, even we can’t say it’s only day or night, they are constant 24 hours a day, they bombard all our towns, villages and villages with artillery, mortars and aviation,” Serhii Gaidai said in a TV interview on Ukraine’s Rada parliamentary TV channel.

The governor added that there were “constant attempts to break through the defense line”, but Ukrainian troops were holding the line.

NBC was unable to verify its claims.

Video shows ‘refugee women and children in Azovstal bunker’

Bucha deaths account for a third of victims in Kyiv region, mayor says

The number of bodies discovered in Bucha represents a third of all deaths in the Kyiv region since the start of the Russian invasion, the city’s mayor said on Saturday.

“The number we have today is 412,” Anatoliy Fedoruk said in a statement posted on his Facebook page and translated by NBC News. “This means that every third victim in the Kyiv region is from Bucha,” he added.

Fedoruk said investigators discovered another mass grave near a church in the town. He added that 117 bodies including those of 30 women and two children were found.

“There are deaths, bullets and torture by the occupiers, there are charred bodies of civilians,” Fedoruk wrote, adding that authorities were helping people identify the bodies and give their relatives a proper burial. .

NBC News was unable to verify this claim, and Russia has repeatedly denied that its forces were targeting civilians.

Mariupol humanitarian corridor to open on Saturday, Ukrainian deputy PM says

A humanitarian corridor is planned for civilians to be evacuated from the besieged city of Mariupol on Saturday, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said on Saturday.

“Today we are again trying to evacuate women, children and the elderly,” Iryna Vereshchuk said in a message on her Telegram channel which was translated by NBC News.

Ukrainian troops chased Russian forces from parts of Kharkiv, regional governor says

Ukrainian troops in Kharkiv launched a successful counterattack against Russian forces that drove them out of four regions in and around the city, the regional governor said on Saturday.

“There were fierce battles,” Oleh Syniehubov said in a video posted on his Telegram channel and translated by NBC News. “Our units drove out the Russian troops from the settlements: Bezruki, Slatino, Prudyanka, Dergachiv direction, and secured their positions!”

He added that Russian troops continued firing at civilian infrastructure in and around the city on Friday. Two people died and 19 were injured, he said.

NBC News was unable to verify his claims.

Syniehubov also warned that no night gatherings would be allowed to celebrate Orthodox Easter Sunday.

“We cannot allow crowds, safety comes first,” he said.

‘Our happy life has come to a halt’: Families recount early hours of Russian invasion of Ukraine

Bucha residents are working to find and bury their dead amid scenes of recent atrocities

BUCHA, Ukraine — After hiding for weeks in the basement of her apartment complex in this community just outside Kyiv with her mother and son, Inna Leschenko, 45, rushed on March 19 to find drinking water. She never returned home.

Leschenko died after being hit by shrapnel when Russian forces shelled the area. Her family waited until she was safe, then retrieved her body from the yard hundreds of meters away. They later buried her there on a small grassy island bordered by sidewalks.

Once Ukrainian forces liberated the town, the police exhumed Leschenko and took her to the morgue. His mother, Mariya Kovalenko, 66, identified his remains on Friday and eventually buried it about a month after his death.

Kovalenko sobbed as she clutched a photo of Leschenko that she had kept in a plastic shopping bag to protect it from the heavy drizzle that fell on Friday. There was at least some comfort in knowing that she would be able to bury her daughter properly.

“I came here three days ago and we found her,” she said.

Read the full story here.

Ukrainian counterattacks hamper Russian progress, UK says

Russia hasn’t made any major gains in the past 24 hours due to Ukrainian counterattacks, according to the British Ministry of Defence.

Ukraine’s air and sea defense has reduced Russia’s ability to take control of either area, the ministry said in a Saturday morning update.

Their resistance has also slowed Russian attempts to fully seize the devastated port city of Mariupol, the ministry said.

“Despite their declared conquest of Mariupol, heavy fighting continues to unfold, frustrating Russian attempts to capture the city, further slowing their desired advance into Donbass,” the ministry said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed “success” over Mariupol, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has insisted that Russia does not control the city.

Defense officials and military leaders from more than 20 countries will meet for talks on Ukraine’s defense

The Pentagon says US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will convene defense officials and military leaders from more than 20 countries in Germany next week to discuss Ukraine’s immediate and long-term defense needs. .

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday that about 40 countries, including NATO members, were invited and responses are still coming in for Tuesday’s session at Ramstein Air Force Base. He did not identify which nations have agreed to attend, but said more details would be provided in the coming days.

The meeting comes as Russia prepares for what is expected to be a major offensive in eastern Ukraine.

The agenda will include an updated assessment of the Ukrainian battlefield as well as a discussion of efforts to maintain a steady flow of weapons and other military aid, Kirby said. It will include consultations on Ukraine’s defense needs after the war, but should not consider changes in the US military posture in Europe, he said.

Russia says 1 dead, 27 missing, nearly 400 rescued after ship sinks

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that one serviceman died, 27 others were missing and 396 were rescued after a fire on the guided-missile cruiser Moskva last week.

The statement comes a week after the sinking of the ship.

Shortly after the incident, the ministry said the entire crew of the vessel, which was believed by media to be around 500 people, had been rescued. The ministry did not provide an explanation for the conflicting reports.

Ukraine said it hit the cruiser with a missile strike.