War in Ukraine: Latest developments

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Russian forces have pummelled Ukrainian cities from the air, land and sea (AFP/ARIS MESSINIS) (ARIS MESSINIS)
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Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

- Blinken to visit Ukraine -

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will visit Kyiv Sunday as the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its third month.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, who announced the visit, also issues a new call for a meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin "to end the war".

A US State Department official declines comment on the trip by two of President Joe Biden's top cabinet members.

- UN chief criticised -

Zelensky criticises a decision by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to visit Moscow on Tuesday, instead of travelling first to Kyiv.

Guterres will meet Zelensky on Thursday, but the Ukrainian leader argues there is "no justice and no logic" in his visiting Russia first.

- Eight killed in Odessa -

A Russian strike on a residential building on Saturday kills eight people, including a baby, and wounds at least 18 others in Ukraine's Black Sea city of Odessa, Kyiv says.

Nearby, a depot containing weapons delivered by the United States and European countries to Ukrainian forces is struck by a missile, Russia's defence ministry announces.

It is among 22 Ukrainian military sites Russia targetted Saturday, while Russian warplanes attacked 79 military sites, the ministry adds.

- Renewed offensives -

In its latest analysis, the US-based Institute for the Study of War says Russian forces do not appear to be pausing to refit or mass their troops as they redeploy and are likely to step up their offensives.

"Russian forces will likely increase the scale of ground offensive operations in the coming days, but it is too soon to tell how fast they will do so or how large those offensives will be," it says.

- Fighting in the east -

Authorities in two eastern Ukrainian regions report "fierce" fighting with Russian forces as hope fades for a truce over Orthodox Easter weekend.

The governor of the eastern Kharkiv region, Oleg Sinegubov, says Kyiv retook three villages near the Russian border after "fierce battles" in which two people had been killed.

- Russian gas exports -

A third of Russian gas exported to the European Union could be affected because of the war, says the head of Ukraine's state gas company Naftogaz.

"We estimate a third of the gas exported from Russia to the European Union via Ukraine will be lost if the (Russian) forces of occupation don't stop disrupting the working of the stations in the recently occupied territories," Yuriy Vitrenko writes on Twitter.

- Mariupol evacuation -

Ukrainian officials accuse Russia of having thwarted attempts to evacuate more civilians from Mariupol, the devastated port city now largely controlled by Russian forces.

- Poland major arms delivery -

Poland has supplied Ukraine with weapons to the value of $1.6 billion, says Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Reports in the Polish media say the package includes 40 tanks and around 60 armoured cars.

- Nearly 5.2 million flee -

The number of Ukrainians fleeing the country since Russia's invasion is now 5,163,686, the UN refugee agency says.


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