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Latest Developments in Ukraine: April 4

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks to the media as he is surrounded by Ukrainian servicemen in Bucha, outside Kyiv, April 4, 2022.

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

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

11:00 p.m.: Russia is closer to defaulting on its debt after its sovereign bond coupon payments were stopped.

The bond coupon payments were not authorized by the U.S. Treasury to be processed by the bank JPMorgan, Reuters reported. The bank was supposed to process the payments from Russia and a payment agent would distribute funds to bondholders.

But the U.S. Treasury is no longer allowing these payments to move forward. “Today is the deadline for Russia to make another debt payment," a Treasury spokeswoman told Reuters. "Beginning today, the U.S. Treasury will not permit any dollar debt payments to be made from Russian government accounts at U.S. financial institutions. Russia must choose between draining remaining valuable dollar reserves or new revenue coming in, or default."

Russia still has a 30 day grace period to make the payments. The country has 15 international bonds outstanding with a face value of around $40 billion, Reuters reported.

9:33 p.m.: Russia's former president Dmitry Medvedev said on the social media app Telegram that Russia will expel diplomats from Western countries after Germany and France both announced Monday ordered a combined 75 Russian officials to leave.

"It will be symmetrical and destructive for bilateral relations," Medvedev, now the deputy head of Russia’s security council, said of the impending Russian expulsions.

7:48 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he will address the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday as it hears Ukraine's allegations that Russia troops murdered civilians in the Kyiv suburb Bucha.

In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy also warned that even worse atrocities may be discovered in other places Russian troops occupied.

"Now, there is information that in Borodyanka and some other liberated Ukrainian towns, the number of casualties of the occupiers may be even much higher," he said.

6:16 p.m.: The New York Times says that satellite images from Bucha, Ukraine refute Russia's claim that the bodies of civilians found in the streets of Bucha were placed there after Russian troops withdrew. Russia's defense ministry said on Sunday the bodies – some with their hands bound and with bullet wounds to the head – "are another hoax, a staged production and provocation by the Kiev regime for the Western media" and that no bodies were on the streets when Russian troops left March 30. But the Times posted a video that suggests the corpses found after Russian troops retreated can be seen in satellite images from March 19.

5:06 p.m.: US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Russia is "revising its war aims" to focus forces on Ukraine's south and east.

"Russia is repositioning its forces to concentrate its offensive operations in the eastern and parts of southern Ukraine, rather than target most of the territory," Sullivan said during a briefing Monday at the White House.

He said U.S. intelligence believes forces are starting to retreat from some areas around Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, but he also warned that doesn’t mean citizens there or other cities are safe from attacks, as Russia will likely continue to launch air and missile strikes at targets across the country.

"We should be under no illusions that Russia will adjust its tactics, which have included and will likely continue to include wanton and brazen attacks on civilian targets," he said.

3:57 p.m.: It's called the Sweet Home neighborhood — but its streets are now burned out, the windows in the buildings are shattered. Reporter Roman Sukhan visited the area during a tour of Irpin, near Kyiv, which has now been liberated from Russian forces. He has this story for Current Time, a co-production between Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA.

3:41 p.m.: The besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol is "on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe," with over 100,000 people still requiring evacuation, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said in a televised press briefing. Boichenko said that Russia was blocking all humanitarian aid headed to Mariupol, and that no evacuation buses had reached the city, CNN reported Monday. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Verashchuk said a total of 2,405 people were evacuated along a humanitarian corridor route running from Mariupol to the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia on Monday using the dwindling number of private vehicles left in the area. 1,553 of those came from Mariupol itself, The Associated Press reported.

3:25 p.m.: Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday that “the morale and the emotional state” of staff working at the country’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility were “very low,” Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement. Grossi has expressed concern about the stressful work conditions for personnel operating Ukraine’s nuclear facilities during the conflict, especially at the Zaporizhzhia and Chernobyl sites, which Russian forces controlled for five weeks before their withdrawal last Thursday, according to the statement.

3:03 p.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday praised the unity of NATO allies and partners, reflecting on the past 73 years of the alliance. He pledged that in the future, the U.S. would continue to work together with NATO to safeguard security and shared values. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Monday wished NATO a happy 73rd birthday, saying, “I have never seen the alliance more relevant than it is right now.”

2:50 p.m.: The World Health Organization released new figures Monday, saying that there have now been 85 verified attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine since Russian troops invaded February 24. The WHO condemned the attacks, calling health care a “fundamental human right.”

2:36 p.m.: Tens of thousands of Russian IT workers and entrepreneurs have fled their homeland since the start of the war with Ukraine. The exodus continues — and it could have deep repercussions for Russia’s long-term economic growth and cybersecurity, experts say. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

2:23 p.m.: Sergiy Gaiday, the governor of Ukraine's eastern Lugansk region, said on Monday that Russian forces "are preparing for a full-scale big breakthrough," and urged residents to leave the region as soon as possible, Agence France-Presse reported. “Please don’t wait for your homes to be bombed,” he said.

2:16 p.m.: Western leaders should examine their own consciences before accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of war crimes, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday. He said Moscow would hold a news conference later in the day to demonstrate that Western accusations that its soldiers killed civilians in Northern Ukraine were false, Reuters reported.

2:02 p.m.: VOA’s Megan Duzor takes a look at four ways that war in Ukraine could end.

1:47 p.m.: Three Russian activists in the Urals city of Perm have been charged with "discrediting the Russian Federation's armed forces" for allegedly publishing at home copies of an online magazine that has been covering the war Moscow launched against Ukraine last month. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story.

1:26 p.m.: The horrific images and stories coming out of Ukrainian towns like Bucha in the wake of the withdrawal of Russian troops has led to international denunciations, including comments from U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “a war criminal” who should be brought to trial. But the path to holding the Russian president and other top leaders criminally responsible is long and complex, The Associated Press reported.

1:14 p.m.: Food prices across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are soaring because of the war in Ukraine, the World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley said Monday.

1:08 p.m.: British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba briefed the media Monday in Warsaw, Poland, about alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine. “What we have seen on the streets of Irpin and Bucha are scenes we will never forget,” Truss said. “We have seen butchery, evidence of rape and sexual violence, as well as the indiscriminate killing of civilians,” she said. Kuleba added, “I can tell you without exaggeration but with great sorrow that the situation in Mariupol is much worse.” Truss pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice and said British police are providing technical assistance in the investigations.

1:00 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden called Monday for a war crimes trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin, condemning him for the atrocities allegedly committed by Russian troops that have been discovered in recent days in Bucha, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. "This guy is brutal and what's happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone's seen it," Biden said, referring to Putin as Biden returned to Washington after a weekend in his home state of Delaware. "Yes, I'm going to continue to add sanctions." VOA’s Ken Bredemeier has the story.

12:57 p.m.: Metro stations in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv have served as important safe havens during 40 days of war, especially when the city came under rocket fire. On Monday, metropolitan authorities opened some of the stations and allowed media to visit. VOA’s Malik Mansur reported that the capital city’s administration and a variety of charity organizations are providing humanitarian assistance to thousands of residents who have taken refuge in the subway, some living in train cars. Medical, psychological, and other services were being provided underground, to assist this sector of the population.

12:28 p.m. : The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said on Monday the discovery of dead civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha raised questions about possible war crimes. "Reports emerging from this (Bucha) and other areas raise serious and disturbing questions about possible war crimes, grave breaches of international humanitarian law and serious violations of international human rights law," Bachelet said in a statement, saying she was horrified by the reports. On Monday, her office also released an update stating that 3,527 civilian casualties in Ukraine have been officially recorded since Russia began its invasion February 24, of which 1,430 were killed and 2,097 injured.

12:23 p.m. : Images of dozens of bodies lying in the streets of the village of Bucha, near Kyiv, have been seen around the world, prompting accusations of war crimes against Russian forces. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Levko Stek traveled there shortly after its liberation by Ukrainian forces, witnessed the carnage in the streets, and spoke to residents about what happened there. At the time of publication, RFE/RL could not independently verify all of the accounts.

GRAPHIC WARNING: Viewers may find the content of this video disturbing.

12:11 p.m. : A senior U.S. defense official speaking with the media Monday called the discovery of dead civilians in Bucha, Ukraine, following Russia’s withdrawal from the area “sickening” and “disgusting” and added that further investigations should be conducted into the circumstances of the killings. He said the U.S. is moving quickly to help Ukraine with security assistance. VOA’s Pentagon Correspondent Carla Babb tweeted his comments.

11:58 a.m.: A team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was stopped during an attempt to reach Mariupol, Ukraine, to evacuate civilians and is now being held in the nearby town Manhush, a spokesperson told Reuters on Monday. ICRC spokesperson Jason Straziuso told Reuters the team was being held by police, without giving further details. "It's not a hostage situation," he added.

11:51 a.m.: The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, on Monday shared video from the destroyed Ukrainian town of Irpin on Twitter. He said the ICRC team that reached the area over the weekend saw “heart-breaking scenes” and he called on all parties to “protect civilian life and dignity.”

11:41 a.m. : Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat. Sanctions against Russia and the war in Ukraine are driving up global wheat prices. VOA correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the Western U.S. state of Wyoming on what those higher prices mean for U.S. farmers.

11:23 a.m.: Russia's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Gennady Gatilov said Monday that an initiative by the U.S. and others to remove his country from the U.N. Human Rights Council would be unlikely to enjoy majority support, Reuters reported. "Washington exploits the Ukraine crisis for its own benefit in an attempt either to exclude or suspend Russia from international organizations, including the Human Rights Council here in Geneva," Gatilov said. Earlier Monday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said "Russia's participation on the Human Rights Council is a farce," adding, "And it is wrong, which is why we believe it is time the U.N. General Assembly vote to remove them."

10:52 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal on Monday and said he would call for a war crimes trial, as a global outcry mounted over civilian killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, Reuters reported.

10:48 a.m.: A senior U.S. defense official Monday said that Russian troops are largely consolidating themselves in Belarus before likely redeploying to the Donbas region. He said there is still a bitter fight underway for the southern city of Mariupol, that Russians forces have shifted to a “more defensive posture” around Kherson, that airstrikes are focused on the Izyum area, and he confirmed that Russia did strike an oil facility in Odesa. VOA’s National Correspondent Jeff Seldin followed the briefing and shared details on Twitter.

10:45 a.m.: The United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, spoke Monday on Twitter about the “harrowing images” showing atrocities committed against civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha. This month, the U.K. is president of the U.N. Security Council, and will call a meeting Tuesday on Ukraine, to discuss the mounting evidence of war crimes, she said.

10:17 a.m.: A professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies on Monday discussed on Twitter whether alleged atrocities committed in Ukraine by Russian forces amount to genocide. Associate Professor Eugene Finkel, who teaches university courses on genocide, explained why he thinks Russia’s invasion did not start with clear genocidal intent, but has now evolved into one.

10:06 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke on national television Monday from the town of Bucha outside Kyiv, where hundreds of civilians were found dead after Russian troops retreated last week, The Associated Press reported. Zelenskyy said the evidence of these atrocities makes it harder to hold talks with Russia. “It’s very difficult to conduct negotiations when you see what they did here,” Zelenskyy said, adding that in Bucha and other places “dead people have been found in barrels, basements, strangled, tortured.” The Kyiv Independent shared photos from Zelenskyy’s visit to Bucha on Twitter.

9:46 a.m. : U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield explained why the United States, in collaboration with Ukraine and other Member States, will seek Russia’s suspension from the U.N. Human Rights Council. In comments posted on Twitter Monday, she said that images of devastation in Ukraine “require us to now match our words with action.” She said the U.N. should not allow Russia “to use its seat on the Council as a tool of propaganda to suggest they have legitimate concern about human rights.” Last week the president of the U.N. General Assembly was asked at a press briefing if this is possible and she said it is. A Member State can be suspended through a two-thirds majority vote, and that happened in 2011 in the case of Libya, according to VOA’s U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer.

9:31 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin, who embarked on what he calls a "special operation" in Ukraine partly to counter the expansion of the NATO alliance, may soon have a new NATO neighbor. Finland has an 810-mile border with Russia. Finland's leaders have discussed possible membership with "almost all" NATO's 30 members and will submit a review to parliament by mid-April, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told Reuters.

9:23 a.m.: A group of Russians and Ukrainians who immigrated to the U.S. and live in Los Angeles have flown to Hungary to help Ukrainian refugees there. Marina Ratina, ex-producer of the popular cartoon series “Masha and the Bear,” is among them. VOA’s Angelina Bagdasarvan has the story.

US-Based Volunteers Establish Clinic for Ukrainian Refugees in Hungary
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9:11 a.m.: Military conscripts in the Russian-backed Donbas region have been sent into front-line combat against Ukrainian troops with no training, little food and water, and inadequate weapons, six people in the separatist province told Reuters. The new accounts are a fresh indication of how stretched military resources at the Kremlin's disposal are.

8:42 a.m.: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Monday that the United States will ask the U.N. General Assembly to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, Reuters reported. Thomas Greenfield is traveling in Romania, where she met with Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca to discuss a “shared resolve to assist Ukraine,” she said on Twitter. She also visited the World Central Kitchen operation in the capital Bucharest, and in a tweet thanked chef Jose Andres and his team for providing meals to Ukrainian refugees.

8:34 a.m.: In a quiet corner of the French Riviera, La Ciotat Shipyards said it is writing bills for mooring fees for the superyacht Amore Vero, but it doesn't know who to send them to.

Customs agents seized the 86-meter vessel as its crew prepared to sail out of harbor on the night of March 2, two days after the European Union added Igor Sechin, the head of Russian state oil company Rosneft, to its sanctions list for the war in Ukraine. France's Finance Ministry says the yacht belongs to a company controlled by Sechin. But Sechin denied this. Reuters has the story.

FILE - Superyacht "Amore Vero", said to be owned by Rosneft boss, is seen at La Ciotat Port near Marseille city, France, March 21, 2022.
FILE - Superyacht "Amore Vero", said to be owned by Rosneft boss, is seen at La Ciotat Port near Marseille city, France, March 21, 2022.

8:27 a.m.: Drug shortages persist in Russia, weeks after the start of the war in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported Monday. Experts and health authorities in Russia say the drug shortages are temporary — due to panic-buying and logistical difficulties for suppliers because of sanctions — but some remain worried that high-quality medicines will keep disappearing in the Russian market.

8:19 a.m.: The U.S. State Department on Monday launched its new Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy (CDP), according to an official statement. As “a key piece” of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s modernization agenda, “the CDP bureau will address the national security challenges, economic opportunities, and implications for U.S. values associated with cyberspace, digital technologies, and digital policy,” the statement said. The CDP bureau includes three units: International Cyberspace Security, International Information and Communications Policy, and Digital Freedom, it said.

8:08 a.m.: Russia maintained gas flows through key pipeline routes into Europe on Monday, despite uncertainty over payment terms and as European leaders called for more sanctions against Moscow after war crimes allegations in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

7:52 a.m.: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Monday that he had spoken with his counterpart, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and he expressed gratitude for China’s “solidarity with civilian victims” of the conflict. “We both share the conviction that ending the war against Ukraine serves common interests of peace, global food security, and international trade,” Kuleba said on Twitter.

7:47 a.m.: The international community continues to express shock and outrage following the emergence of evidence that Russian forces appear to have committed atrocities against civilians in Ukraine, as Moscow dismissed the reports as a “provocation.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

7:21 a.m.: The local governor said Monday that a “significant accumulation” of Russian troops and military equipment have been seen in Luhansk Oblast ahead of what is expected to be a major military offensive there, The Kyiv Independent reported.

7:10 a.m. : Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 410 civilians were found in towns around the capital, Kyiv, that were recaptured from Russian forces in recent days. In Bucha, northwest of the capital, Associated Press journalists saw 21 bodies. One group of nine, all in civilian clothes, were scattered around a site that residents said Russian troops used as a base. They appeared to have been shot at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs. In Motyzhyn, to the west of Kyiv, AP journalists saw the bodies of four people who appeared to have been shot at close range and thrown into a pit. Residents said the mayor, her son, and her husband – who had been bound and blindfolded – were among them, AP reported.

This image contains sensitive content which some people may find offensive or disturbing.
The body of a person, with hands tied behind his or her back, lies in a street, amid Russia's invasion on Ukraine, in Bucha, near Kyiv, April 3, 2022. According to local residents, the person was shot by retreating Russian soldiers.
The body of a person, with hands tied behind his or her back, lies in a street, amid Russia's invasion on Ukraine, in Bucha, near Kyiv, April 3, 2022. According to local residents, the person was shot by retreating Russian soldiers.
This image contains sensitive content which some people may find offensive or disturbing - Click to reveal
The body of a person, with hands tied behind his or her back, lies in a street, amid Russia's invasion on Ukraine, in Bucha, near Kyiv, April 3, 2022. According to local residents, the person was shot by retreating Russian soldiers.

6:54 a.m.: The European Union said Monday it will hold discussions about a new round of sanctions on Russia, following the reported atrocities in Ukrainian towns that have been occupied by Russian forces, VOA News reported. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement that the EU “will advance, as a matter of urgency, work on further sanctions against Russia.” Borrell said, "The massacres in the town of Bucha and other Ukrainian towns will be inscribed in the list of atrocities committed on European soil.”

6:29 a.m.: As he marked Mine Awareness Day on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called attention to the challenges facing Ukraine, saying it will take decades to clear the country of unexploded ordnance, landmines, and cluster munitions.

6:14 a.m.: Some Russian troops remained in the northern Ukrainian region of Chernihiv on Monday after pulling back from around the region's main city of Chernihiv, regional governor Viacheslav Chaus said. Russia said last week it would sharply scale back military activity around Chernihiv and the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, Reuters reported.

6:00 a.m.: U.S. federal agents and Spain’s Civil Guard are searching a yacht owned by a Russian oligarch on Monday at the Mediterranean island. The law enforcement officers boarded the yacht at the Marina Real in the port of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Associated Press reporters at the scene saw police going in and out of the boat on Monday morning.

A Civil Guard source told The Associated Press that the yacht named Tango is a 78-meter (254-feet) vessel that carries Cook Islands flag and that, a specialized website that tracks the world’s largest and most exclusive recreational boats, values it at $120 million. The source was not authorized to be named in media reports and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

Civil Guards stand by the yacht called Tango in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, April 4, 2022.
Civil Guards stand by the yacht called Tango in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, April 4, 2022.

5:00 a.m.: British foreign secretary Liz Truss plans to visit Poland on Monday to call for tougher action to tackle Russian aggression and to support Ukraine in peace talks, her office said in a statement according to Reuters.

“Putin is yet to show he is serious about diplomacy. A tough approach from the UK and our allies is vital to strengthen Ukraine's hand in negotiations,” Truss said.

4:30 a.m.: Four million people have fled Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion, according to U.N. data. The vast majority are women and children — populations that are especially vulnerable to human trafficking. Lesia Bakalets has the story, narrated by Anna Rice. VOA footage by Andrey Degtyarev.

Ukrainian Refugees Targeted by Human Traffickers
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3:30 a.m.: In its battleground intelligence report, the U.K. defense ministry said Monday that Russian troops are consolidating and reorganizing their offensive into the Donbas region. The report said Russia is also moving mercenaries from the Wagner Group into the area.

3:00 a.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that more sanctions on Russia were needed after Ukraine accused Russian forces of the killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, Reuters reported.

Macron told France Inter radio that there were “very clear clues” indicating that Russian forces were responsible for war crimes in Ukraine. Russia on Sunday denied its forces were responsible for the deaths of civilians in the town of Bucha and said Ukraine had staged a performance for the Western media.

2:20 a.m.: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the country will conduct a probe into alleged atrocities against civilians by Russian troops involving international investigators, The Associated Press reported.

Zelenskyy said in an address that “the world has seen many war crimes,” adding that “the time has come to make the war crimes committed by Russian troops the last such evil on Earth.” He said that a special justice mechanism will be created to investigate the Russian atrocities with participation of international prosecutors and judges.

1:45 a.m.: Media watchdog groups are expressing concern over the fate of journalists who have disappeared in Ukraine after a Ukrainian photojournalist was found dead Saturday. VOA’s Sirwan Kajjo has this story.

1:30 a.m.: The U.N. Security Council will discuss Ukraine on Tuesday — as scheduled — and will not meet on Monday as requested by Russia, said Britain's mission to the United Nations, which holds the presidency of the 15-member council for April, Reuters reported.

Russia had requested the Security Council convene on Monday to discuss what it called a “provocation by Ukrainian radicals” in the town of Bucha after Kyiv accused Russian troops of killing civilians there.

1:00 a.m.: Grandmothers, mothers and children account for most of those fleeing Russia’s war on Ukraine. Each refugee has a story as well as hopes for the future. VOA’s Celia Mendoza reports from Medyka, Poland. Julia Riera contributed.

Generations of Ukrainian Women Flee War, Share Their Stories
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12:35 a.m.: Russian forces appear to be withdrawing from the region of Sumy Oblast in northern Ukraine, a local official says.

The regional governor confirmed the troop movement in a post on his Telegram page, CNN reported. “Our troops were chasing them out of the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions and inflicting losses, Konotop area is not 100% free of the Russians. The Ukrainians are gradually finishing them off,” Dmytro Zhyvytsky, head of the regional administration in the Sumy region wrote.

Sumy is near the Russian border and was the site of heavy fighting early in the invasion.

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