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Latest Developments in Ukraine: April 2

update

Ukrainian servicemen stand while checking bodies of dead civilians for booby traps in the formerly Russian-occupied Kyiv suburb of Bucha, Ukraine, April 2, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

Recap of April 2
FIGHTING
* Ukraine regains control of Kyiv region.
* Bodies of 20 civilians found in Bucha, near Kyiv.
HUMANITARIAN
* Aid convoys were not able to reach the besieged city of Mariupol again Saturday, the Russian defense ministry said and blamed "destructive actions" by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Interfax news agency said.
DIPLOMACY
* Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Saturday her country should make a decision on NATO this spring
SANCTIONS
* Lithuanian president Gitanas Nauseda tweeted that from April, the country will no longer use Russian gas.
* EU’s Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said further sanctions on Russia will not affect the energy sector, according to The Kyiv Independent.
* The future of the International Space Station hangs in the balance, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space program, said Saturday, after the United States, the European Union, and Canadian space agencies missed a deadline to lift sanctions on Russian enterprises and hardware.

For the latest developments of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, all times EDT:

9:23 p.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. says that Russian air activity is concentrated toward southern and eastern Ukraine. It went on to say that Ukraine "continues to provide a significant challenge to Russian air and missile operations."

7:47 p.m.: Authorities in Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova, denied as “absolutely untrue” claims Saturday by Ukraine that Russian troops based there are preparing for “a demonstration of readiness for the offensive and, possibly, hostilities against Ukraine.”

“The information disseminated by the General Staff of Ukraine is absolutely untrue,” Transnistria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, The Associated Press reported, adding that leaders have repeatedly “declared the absence of any threat to Ukraine.”

Transnistria is a Russia-backed region of Moldova that broke away after a short civil war in the early 1990s and is unrecognized by most countries. An estimated 1,500 Russian soldiers are stationed there.

7:02p.m.: At least 17 colleges and universities in at least five U.S. states will jointly offer honorary degrees to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during commencement ceremonies this spring, The Associated Press says.

After Zelenskyy declined a request to speak virtually to the graduates, Alfred University President Mark Zupan said the institutions instead decided to award honorary degrees in absentia to recognize Zelenskyy’s leadership during Russia’s war in Ukraine.

6:33 p.m.: In his late-night address Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces aimed to seize the east and south of the country and again complained Western nations had not provided Kyiv with enough anti-missile systems, according to a Reuters report.

In the nightly video, Zelenskyy also praised forces defending the besieged port of Mariupol, saying their resistance was allowing other cities to gain valuable time.

Natalia Churikova, editor in chief of Radio Ukraine, is seen at its studio in Prague, Czech Republic, March 31, 2022.
Natalia Churikova, editor in chief of Radio Ukraine, is seen at its studio in Prague, Czech Republic, March 31, 2022.

6:05 p.m.: At a studio in Prague, a staff of 10 people from beginners to veteran broadcasters, are broadcasting news, information a music for about 300,000 Ukrainians who are now living in the Czech Republic, according to The Associated Press.

"It was for my people. For people who really needed help, who really needed support, something that would help them start a new life or restart their lives here after they have lived through very bad things trying to escape from Ukraine," said Natalia Churikova, an experienced journalist with Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, who took the job as editor in chief.

5:24 p.m.: The future of the International Space Station hangs in the balance, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space program, said Saturday, after the United States, the European Union, and Canadian space agencies missed a deadline to lift sanctions on Russian enterprises and hardware.

Rogozin implied on Russian state TV that the Western sanctions, some of which predate Russia’s current military operations in Ukraine, could disrupt the operation of Russian spacecraft servicing the ISS with cargo flights. Russia also sends manned missions to the space station.

4:48 p.m.: Aid convoys were not able to reach the besieged city of Mariupol again Saturday, the Russian defense ministry said and blamed "destructive actions" by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Interfax news agency said.

Interfax quoted Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the director of the Russian National Center for Defense Management, as saying the ICRC had shown its inability to provide any help in preparing to evacuate civilians from the city.

4:10 p.m.: Ukraine's railways are struggling with a backlog of grain railcars on the country's western border as traders look for alternative export routes after Russia's invasion blocked off the main Black Sea ports, Reuters reports, citing analyst APK-Inform.

Ukraine was the world's fourth-largest grain exporter in the 2020/21 season, according to International Grains Council data, with most of its commodities shipped out via the Black Sea.

3:48 p.m.: Odesa residents came out to enjoy a few hours of sunshine Saturday afternoon, one day after a Russian ballistic missile attack.

Odesa residents Anna Moravinets and Maria Bugai each told The Associated Press they felt safe despite the ongoing conflict and had confidence in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Regional leader Maksim Marchenko said at least three Russian Iskander missiles were fired late Friday at the Odesa region. They did not hit the critical infrastructure they targeted in Odesa, Ukraine's largest port and the headquarters of its navy.

FILE: Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin attends an EU summit at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, March 10, 2022
FILE: Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin attends an EU summit at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, March 10, 2022

3:18 p.m.: Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Saturday her country should make a decision on NATO this spring and that “both joining (NATO) and not joining are choices that have consequences. We need to assess both the short-term and long-term effects. At the same time, we must keep in mind our goal: ensuring the security of Finland and Finns in all situations.”

Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer border with Russia, the longest by any European Union member.

2:51 p.m.: A Russian group that monitors political arrests says 208 people were detained in demonstrations held Saturday across the country protesting Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

The OVD-Info group said demonstrations took place in 17 Russian cities, from Siberia to the more densely populated west. More than 70 people were detained in Moscow and a similar number in St. Petersburg, the organization said.

A destroyed building is pictured in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on April 2, 2022, where town's mayor said 280 people had been buried in a mass grave and that the town is littered with corpses.
A destroyed building is pictured in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on April 2, 2022, where town's mayor said 280 people had been buried in a mass grave and that the town is littered with corpses.

2:15 p.m.: Almost 300 people have been buried in a mass grave in Bucha, a commuter town outside Ukraine's capital Kyiv, its mayor toldAgence France-Presse Saturday after the Ukrainian army retook control of the key town from Russia.

"In Bucha, we have already buried 280 people in mass graves," Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said by phone. He said the heavily destroyed town's streets are littered with corpses.

1:57 p.m.: Ukraine regains control of 'whole Kyiv region,' deputy defense minister said, according to Agence France-Presse.

12:19 p.m.: Lithuanian president Gitanas Nauseda tweeted that from April, the country will no longer use Russian gas.

11:44 a.m.: Bodies of at least 20 men in civilian clothing were found lying on a single street Saturday after Ukrainian forces retook the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, from Russian troops, Agence France-Presse journalists report.

10:02 a.m.: An international arrest warrant should be issued for Vladimir Putin, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court tells Swiss newspaper Le Temps.

9:38 a.m.: About 620,000 Ukrainians have returned to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion, and the numbers of women and children going back are increasing, the State Border Guard Service spokesman says, as reported by The Kyiv Independent.

9:27 a.m.: Police in Kyrgyzstan detained about 20 activists who were protesting against Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to AFP.

8:50 a.m.: EU’s Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said further sanctions on Russia will not affect the energy sector, according to The Kyiv Independent.

8:45 a.m.: Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the chief of staff of Ukraine's president, took to Twitter to call for an all-out embargo on Russian energy.

8:44 a.m.: Latvian President Egils Levits discussed the military assistance of Latvia and other Western countries to Ukraine with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. According to his tweet, Latvia will also continue to urge NATO members to widen military assistance to Ukraine.

8:34 a.m.: Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said the government “is ready to contribute to the peace process and act as a guarantor of Ukraine’s neutrality,” The Kyiv Independent reports.

8:00 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted that he held talks with Latvian President Egils Levits about countering Russian aggression, and its war crimes.

7:45 a.m.: The body of Ukrainian photojournalist Maks Levin was found Friday, nearly 3 weeks after he went missing covering fighting outside Kyiv. Levin, who contributed to international outlets and news agencies including Reuters and The Associated Press was last heard from March 13, while heading to Moschchun, a village near Kyiv, where fighting had intensified. In 2014, Levin was injured covering fighting in the Donetsk region during what was then one of the largest Russian military operations. He later produced a documentary, “After Ilovaisk,” about the experience. In an interview published just days before his disappearance, Levin told VICE News, “I will stay on the front line as long as I am physically able.” He is survived by his wife and four children. Levin is the sixth journalist confirmed to have been killed during the war. According to preliminary findings, Levin "was fatally shot twice with small-arms fire, by servicemen" of the Russian military, according to a Facebook post by Ukraine's prosecutor general. An investigation is ongoing.

5:54 a.m.: Al Jazeera reported that Pope Francis is considering traveling to Kyiv. He said a plan to do so is "on the table."

5:26 a.m.: The New York Times, citing the governor of Ukraine's Luhansk region, said that intense fighting in Lysychansk and Toshkivka had damaged or destroyed 31 buildings.

4:54 a.m.: UNESCO says at least 53 culturally important sites have been damaged in Ukraine since the Russians invaded, the BBC reported.

4:27 a.m.: Speaking to Fox News, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he wouldn't consider ceding territory to Russia as part of a peace deal.

3:05 a.m.: The latest dispatch from the U.K.'s defense intelligence said that Ukraine continues to advance as Russian forces withdraw. Ukrainian forces are currently moving from Irpin toward Bucha and Hostormel.

1:37 a.m.: The BBC reported that China has denied circumventing sanctions on Russia. Wang Lutong of China's foreign minister said that by continuing to trade with Russia, China aimed to help the global economy. The comments come the day after the European Union warned China not to support Russia's war with Ukraine and interfere with sanctions.

12:40 a.m.: New details have emerged about Belarusians fighting for Ukraine against Russia as part of a broader struggle to free their own country from Russian domination and the rule of Moscow-backed autocrat Alexander Lukashenko.

Speaking exclusively to VOA in a Tuesday phone interview, the deputy commander of the largest pro-Ukraine Belarusian fighting force said its numbers have almost reached the size of an average Ukrainian battalion, which he said has about 450-500 troops. VOA's Igor Tsikhanenka and Michael Lipin have the story.

12:01 a.m.: The Red Cross will try once more to evacuate people from Mariupol on Saturday, Reuters reported. The aid agency attempted to lead a convoy out Friday but was forced to turn back, saying unsafe conditions made the trip impossible.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters

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