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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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By Reuters
Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now
Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

– U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin were to visit Kyiv on Sunday to discuss Ukraine’s request for more powerful weapons after two months of combat with invading Russian forces. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced the visit.

FIGHTING

* Senior Ukrainian negotiator and presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said Russian forces were continuously shelling Mariupol and urged Moscow to agree a “real Easter truce”.

* Russia’s defence ministry said its high-precision missiles struck nine Ukrainian military targets overnight, including four arms depots in the Kharkiv region where artillery weapons were stored.

* Eight people died in Russian attacks in Ukraine’s Luhansk region on Saturday, regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai wrote in a post on social media.

* Russia has deployed Iskander-M mobile battlefield missile launchers within 60 km (40 miles) of the Ukrainian border, Ukraine’s military said. The mobile system’s two ballistic missiles have a range of up to 500 km (300 miles) and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.

* Ukraine has repelled numerous Russian assaults along the line of contact in Donbas this week, a British military update said.

ORTHODOXEASTER

* Zelenskiy vowed in an Orthodox Easter message that no “wickedness” will destroy the country and prayed that God returns happiness to children and brings solace to grieving mothers.

* Ukrainian refugees filled churches across central Europe for Orthodox Easter in bittersweet celebrations, giving thanks for escaping a Russian invasion but dreaming of a return home to family members left behind.

* Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide, called overnight for the opening of humanitarian corridors in Ukraine where he said “an indescribable human tragedy is unfolding”.

* Pope Francis called for halt to attacks in Ukraine so aid can reach the exhausted population and urged leaders to “listen to the voice of the people”, who fear an escalation.

DIPLOMACY

* Turkey is ready to give all possible assistance during the negotiation process between Ukraine and Russia, President Tayyip Erdogan told Zelenskiy during a telephone call, the Turkish presidency said.

* United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Ankara before heading to Moscow next week to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and then to Ukraine for talks with Zelenskiy, a U.N. statement said on Saturday.

QUOTES

* “It’s my first Easter celebration not in Ukraine. It’s sad and my heart hurts because so many people have died. We pray everyday for our people and our children.” Diana Shyndak, a 23-year-old refugee from Kyiv, celebrating Orthodox Easter in Berlin.

* “I want to see the sun because in here it’s dim, not like outside. When our houses are rebuilt we can live in peace. Let Ukraine win because Ukraine is our native home,” said an unnamed boy speaking on a video released by the Azov battalion showing civilians holed up in a steel works in Mariupol.