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Current updates Zelensky: Meeting in Kiev with American officials

Kyiv, Ukraine – The President of Ukraine said that he would meet with the US Secretary of State and the Minister of Defense on Sunday in Kiev.

President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke about the plans at a press conference on Saturday. He did not immediately provide more details on the visit of Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin.

The White House declined to comment on Saturday. The US State Department also declined to comment.

For weeks, Zelensky has been urging the Western Allies to send more weapons to Ukraine in the fight against the Russian invasion.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN WAR:

– Ukrainian counterattacks slowing the Russian offensive in the east

– Ukrainian village faces Easter without a church

– Sanctions have hit the Russian economy, although Putin says the opposite

– Refugees in the Czech Republic produce protective vests for volunteer fighters

– Possible mass graves near Mariupol shown on satellite images

– The UN chief of rights sees a “horror story” of human rights violations in Ukraine

– Watch all AP stories about the Russian war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

BERLIN – Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has rejected criticism of his work as a lobbyist for Russian energy companies since he left office in 2005 and told the New York Times: “I do not do mea culpa.”

In an interview with the newspaper published on Saturday, Schröder also claims that his longtime friend Russian President Vladimir Putin is interested in ending the war with Ukraine.

Schroeder allegedly criticized German officials, who now criticize his efforts to obtain Russian energy supplies for Germany, and said that “everyone has agreed to it for the last 30 years.”

He called the war in Ukraine a “mistake” and said the atrocities needed to be investigated, but added that he did not believe Putin himself had ordered the killing of civilians allegedly committed by Russian troops in Bukh.

Schröder, who met with Putin in Moscow last month on a private mission to mediate peace with Ukraine, said the Russian president was “interested in ending the war.”

“But it’s not that easy.” There are a few points that need to be clarified, “the New York Times quoted without further details.

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LONDON – The office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised that during a telephone conversation with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday afternoon he promised that there are more defensive weapons in Ukraine, which is the last chat between the two leaders who talk to each other regularly.

The British leader told Zelensky that the United Kingdom was sending other weapons, including vehicles, drones and anti-tank missiles.

Johnson also confirmed to Zeleny that the United Kingdom would reopen its embassy in Kiev next week. He also informed the Ukrainian leader about new markings of British sanctions against members of the Russian army and told him that the British government was helping to gather evidence of war crimes.

Both also discussed the UK’s work on long-term security solutions and financial support with international partners.

“The prime minister ended by reiterating the UK’s unwavering support for the people of Ukraine and pledging to continue working with international partners to provide the assistance needed to defend Ukraine,” Downing Street said in a statement.

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Kyiv, Ukraine – An adviser to the Ukrainian president said five people, including a three-month-old infant, had been killed in a rocket attack in the Black Sea port city of Odessa.

The Chief of General Staff of Ukrainian President Andriy Yermak informed about it on Saturday.

An adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister had previously said that Russian forces had fired at least six missiles at the city.

Anton Gerashchenko said in a Telegram post on Saturday that Ukrainian forces were able to shoot down several missiles, but at least one landed and exploded.

“City residents have heard explosions in various areas,” Gerashchenko wrote. “Residential buildings have been hit.”

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HELSINKI – Hundreds of demonstrators from Latvia’s large Russian-speaking community took part in a large-scale demonstration in the Baltic capital, Riga, which condemned the Kremlin regime and Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine.

Participants in Saturday’s rally entitled “Russian Voice Against War” waved Ukrainian flags and posters with signs such as “Stop the genocide in Ukraine” and “Complete Russian gas and oil embargo” at the Central Freedom Monument, Latvian public television LSM reported.

The protest organizers said the aim of the protest was to demonstrate that many Latvian Russian-speaking people were not in line with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a statement, they called Moscow’s actions “criminal.”

Ethnic Russians make up about 25% of Latvia’s 1.9 million inhabitants, the former Soviet republic. If we add other ethnic groups, such as Belarusians and Ukrainians, the share of Russian-speaking people is about 30% of all citizens.

Earlier this week, the Latvian parliament unanimously declared the killing of civilians in areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces, including Bucha, Irpin and Mariupol, to be genocide.

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Kyiv, Ukraine – The top Ukrainian official has announced a nationwide curfew for Orthodox Easter night.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidency, said in a video on Saturday that in the regions most affected by the invasion – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye, Kharkov, Mykolaiv, Kherson – the curfew will apply from Saturday 19 hours to 5. I am on Sunday.

In other regions, including Kiev, Odessa, Chernigov and Lviv, the curfew will apply from 11 pm on Saturday to 5 am on Sunday.

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Kyiv, Ukraine – An adviser to the Ukrainian presidency said that Russian forces were attacking the steel plant, which is the last bastion of Ukrainian forces in the strategic port city of Mariupol.

Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said at a briefing on Saturday that Russian forces had resumed raids on Azovstal and were trying to attack him.

“The enemy is trying to completely suppress the resistance of Mariupol defenders in the Azovstal region,” Arestovich said.

Arestovich’s statement came two days after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that all of Mariupol, except Azovstal, had been “liberated” by the Russians.

Putin ordered the Russian army not to attack the power plant and instead blocked it in an apparent attempt to suffocate the remaining focus of resistance.

Ukrainian officials estimate that there are about 2,000 of their soldiers in the factory and about 1,000 are hiding in the underground tunnels of the facility.

Arestovich says that despite the renewed attacks, the Ukrainian fighters are still holding on and even trying to face them.

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LVIV, Ukraine – Lviv Regional Governor Maksym Kozytskyy has announced a curfew since Orthodox Easter Night.

Referring to the “new intelligence” Kozytskyy said that the curfew will apply from Saturday 23 hours to Sunday 5 am and then every day between these hours until further notice.

“Unfortunately, the enemy does not have such a concept as a great religious holiday,” Kozytskyy wrote. “They’re so bestial that they don’t understand what Easter is.”

Kozytskyy said that the church leadership supports this decision and that all churches in the region will postpone their Easter services until the morning hours.

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Kyiv, Ukraine – A video released by the Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard, part of a group currently hiding in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, shows women and children hiding underground. Some of them have been hiding in the power plant tunnels for up to two months.

“We want to see the calm sky, we want to breathe fresh air,” one woman said in a video released on Saturday. “You have no idea what it means for us to eat and drink sugary tea. It’s lucky for us. “

Another young girl in the video says that she and her relatives left home on February 27. Since then, they have seen “neither heaven nor sun.” “We really want to get out of here so that no one is hurt,” the girl begs.

Azov Deputy Commander Sviatoslav Palamar told the AP that the video was shot on Thursday. The video content could not be independently verified.

According to Ukrainian officials, about 1,000 civilians, including women and children, remain imprisoned in Azovstal, along with Ukrainian troops hiding there.

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Kyiv, Ukraine – Kharkiv Regional Governor Oleh Synehubov said two people had been killed and 19 others injured in Russian shelling.

Synehubov said in a Telegram messaging application on Saturday that Russian forces had fired 56 times at the region’s civilian infrastructure over the past day.

Kharkov, which is close to the front lines, has faced repeated shelling by Russian forces.

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Kyiv, Ukraine – Efforts to evacuate civilians to safer areas in Ukraine will continue on Saturday, the country’s officials said.

In a Telegram messaging app, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said another attempt would be made to evacuate women, children and the elderly from the strategic port city of Mariupol, which has been besieged by Russian forces for weeks and largely reduced to smoky wreckage by constant bombing. .

Earlier this week, the Kremlin said Mariupol had been “liberated,” with the exception of the Azovstal steelworks, the last outbreak of resistance where Ukrainian troops were hiding.

Vereshchuk said that “if everything goes according to plan”, the evacuation in Mariupol will begin at noon on Saturday. Many previous attempts to evacuate civilians from the city failed.

The governor of the eastern Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai, said in the Telegram that the evacuation train would depart from Pokrovsk in the east of the country on Saturday. Residents of Donetsk …