Russia-Ukraine latest updates: US officials to meet Zelenskyy

Ukraine news from April 24: President Zelenskyy says he hopes to secure heavy weapons at talks with senior US officials.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy walks ahead of a press conference in a city subway under a central square in Kyiv
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reiterated calls for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to 'end the war' [Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asks for peace during an Easter Sunday address.
  • Senior Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak urges Moscow to agree to a “real Easter truce” to evacuate civilians from Mariupol.
  • Ukraine’s president criticises a decision by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to visit Moscow on Tuesday before heading to Kyiv.
  • Zelenskyy says Ukraine hopes to secure heavy weapons at talks with the US secretaries of state and defence in Kyiv on Sunday, but reiterated calls for a meeting with Putin to “end the war”.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 60

This live blog is now closed, thank you for joining us. Follow our continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine on our new live blog.

These were the updates on April 24:

Macron’s win ‘a mandate for France to support Ukraine fully’

Many experts view French President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election as good news for Ukraine.

“This is a mandate for France to support Ukraine fully. No more chats with Putin. No more ‘brotherly love’”, said Paul Massaro, policy advisor at the US Helsinki Commission.

“Macron’s resounding victory is a mandate for EU energy sanctions and BIG military support for Ukraine. What a legacy moment. With [German Chancellor Olaf] Scholz refusing to recognize reality, Macron could be the man to save Europe,” Massaro wrote on Twitter.

Blinken, Austin holding talks with Zelenskyy

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have arrived in Kyiv and are holding talks with Zelenskyy, Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to Zelenskyy, has said in a social media video.

Reuters was not able to independently verify whether the US officials had arrived in Kyiv.

Blinken arrives in Kyiv

Zelenskyy’s adviser says US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Kyiv.

Two people killed in Kharkiv Oblast: Kyiv Independent

Two people have been killed and 14 wounded in Kharkiv Oblast by Russian shelling, The Kyiv Independent has reported.

“According to governor Oleh Synehubov, one civilian was killed in Kharkiv, another one in the town of Chuhuiv,” it said on Twitter. “The official said that an 11-year-old child was among the injured.”

Bulgaria ‘secretly supplying ammo to Ukraine’: Journalist

Bulgarian journalist Christo Grozev notes on Twitter that a “Ukrainian heavy-transport Antonov plane just landed” in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, according to a flight-tracking website.

“Bulgaria has been secretly supplying ammo to Ukraine via a ‘third country’, in an attempt to prevent disintegration of the coalition government due to the Socialists’ adamant pro-Kremlin objection to arms exports,” Grozev wrote in a Twitter thread.

“Bulgaria has the all-important large caliber (152) shells in quantities that can support Ukraine’s defense for months. But secret supplies can only get Ukraine a streak, so Ukraine has been pushing for official sales. Maybe it worked. We’ll find out soon.”

Orthodox Easter celebration marred by war and division in Ukraine

Kyiv, Ukraine – Waiting for a priest to give an Easter blessing at St Michael’s Monastery, a golden-domed cathedral with sky-blue walls in central Kyiv, Olha Liforenko had some thoughts about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“When I look at Putin, I don’t see a human. I see nothing but dead meat,” the 75-year-old said.

Read the story by Al Jazeera’s Mansur Mirovalev here.

A Ukrainian couple lights candles on Holy Saturday in St. Michael's Monastery in Kyiv [Mansur Mirovalev/Al Jazeera]
A Ukrainian couple lights candles on Holy Saturday in St Michael’s Monastery in Kyiv [Mansur Mirovalev/Al Jazeera]

Ukraine proposes talks with Russia near besieged Mariupol plant

Ukraine has invited Russia to talks near the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are holding out in a city largely under Moscow’s control, Kyiv has said.

“We invited Russians to hold a special round of talks on the spot right next to the walls of Azovstal,” Zelenskyy aid Oleksiy Arestovych said.

Ukrainians celebrate Easter in Mariupol

Ukrainians celebrate Easter Sunday in Mariupol
A priest sprinkles holy water on believers and boxes of Easter cakes and apples on Easter Day at the Svyato-Troitsky church in Mariupol, Ukraine [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]
Local residents gather at the Svyato-Troitsky church on Easter Day in Mariupol
Local residents gather at the Svyato-Troitsky church on Easter Day in Mariupol, Ukraine [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Russian forces fail to advance in Kharkiv Oblast: Reports

According to the latest update from Ukrainian forces, Russian troops intensified their offensive in Kharkiv Oblast in an attempt to advance, but were forced to retreat to occupied territories, The Kyiv Independent has reported.

Russia says village in Belgorod region shelled by Ukraine: TASS

Russia has said a village in its Belgorod region bordering Ukraine was shelled from across the frontier, state news agency TASS has quoted a local official as saying.

Vladimir Pertsev, the official, said there were no casualties or damage after one projectile landed in a field, according to TASS.

Ukraine blames Russia after Mariupol humanitarian corridor fails

No humanitarian routes have been established out of Mariupol, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said, blaming Russian forces for not holding their fire.

Vereshchuk said that the Ukrainian side would try again on Monday to establish safe passage out of Mariupol. She called for Guterres to demand a ceasefire and open up humanitarian corridors from Mariupol.

“This is what Guterres should talk about in Moscow, if he is preparing to talk about peace,” Vereshchuk said.

Almost 5.2 million Ukrainians flee war: UN

The number of Ukrainians who have fled the country since Russia’s invasion two months ago is approaching 5.2 million, the UN refugee agency has said.

The total figure of 5,186,744 is an increase of 23,058 over Saturday’s data, the UNHCR said.

More than 1,151,000 Ukrainians have left during April so far, compared with 3.4 million in the month of March alone.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine war Refugees DAY 60 April 24 5GMT

Luhansk region governor says Russian shelling kills civilians on Easter Sunday

An unspecified multiple number of civilians were killed by Russian shelling in Luhansk region on Sunday, local governor Serhiy Gaidai has said.

In a sombre video address commemorating Orthodox Easter Sunday, Gaidai said “today, once again, civilians have died. Our compatriots. The (Russians) do not hold anything sacred”.

UK urges France and Germany to do more for Ukraine

The UK has said “it would be good to see more from France and Germany” to support the Ukraine war effort, warning that a Russian victory has “always been a possibility”.

Minister Oliver Dowden told the BBC that the West should “continue to tighten the ratchet on Russia” as Moscow ramps up its offensives in the south and east of Ukraine.

“The West has to respond in turn and we are willing to do so,” he added. “There is a desire for us all to do it but it would be good to see more from France and Germany as well.”

EU’s von der Leyen in India with Ukraine on agenda

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will press India over its neutral stance on the Ukraine war after arriving in the country for trade, security and climate talks.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has not openly condemned the Kremlin or backed a United Nations Security Council vote that deplored Moscow’s “aggression”.

Von der Leyen’s itinerary began with visits to local climate change initiatives, where she praised India for its “ambitious” renewable power target and said the Ukraine war had thrown energy security issues into the spotlight.

Pope renews call for Easter truce in Ukraine

Pope Francis has appealed again for a truce in Ukraine over the Orthodox Easter weekend, “to ease the suffering of exhausted people”.

“Instead of halting, the war has become worse,” the leader of the Roman Catholic Church said as the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine flew among the faithful gathered on St Peter’s Square.

“It is sad that on these most holy and solemn days for Christians we hear more of the murderous noise of weapons than that of the bells announcing the resurrection” of Christ.

“I renew the appeal for an Easter truce, the smallest tangible sign of a willingness for peace,” he pleaded.

Pope Francis delivers his blessing as he recites the Regina Coeli noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican.
Pope Francis has used the Orthodox Easter weekend to appeal for a truce in Ukraine [Andrew Medichini/AP Photo]

Erdogan tells Zelenskyy Turkey ready to assist in negotiations

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

Erdogan said the evacuation of the wounded and civilians in Ukraine’s Mariupol must be ensured, adding that Turkey viewed the guarantor issue positively in principle. Ukraine has sought security guarantees from various countries during talks.

Russian ambassador to US says mission’s work ‘blockaded’

The working of the Russian embassy in Washington, DC is “blockaded”, with its bank accounts closed and staff receiving threats, state news agency RIA cited ambassador Anatoly Antonov as saying.

“The embassy is in essence blockaded by US government entities. Accounts of our two consulates in Houston and New York have been closed by Bank of America,” Antonov was quoted as saying.

“We receive threats both by phone and letters come … At some point even the exit from the embassy was blocked,” he added.

UN calls for ‘immediate stop’ in Mariupol fighting

The UN’s Ukraine crisis coordinator, Amin Awad, has called for an “immediate stop” to fighting in Mariupol to allow the evacuation of trapped civilians in the battered city “today”.

“The lives of tens of thousands, including women, children and older people, are at stake in Mariupol,” Awad said in a statement.

“We need a pause in fighting right now to save lives. The longer we wait the more lives will be at risk. They must be allowed to safely evacuate now, today. Tomorrow could be too late.”

The call was echoed by humanitarian organisations including the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has facilitated the safe passage of civilians.

Zelenskyy speaks of hope on Easter Sunday

Ukraine’s president has spoken of hope and victory for his nation during an Easter Sunday address.

Speaking from the ancient St Sophia cathedral, Zelenskyy said, “The great holiday today gives us great hope and unwavering faith that light will overcome darkness, good will overcome evil, life will overcome death, and therefore Ukraine will surely win!”

“The Lord and the holy heavenly light are on our side,” he said. “We are going through very difficult ordeals. Let us reach a just end on this path — the beginning of a happy life and prosperity of Ukraine.”

Zelenskyy said that “on Easter, we ask God for great grace to make our dream come true – this is another great day – the day when great peace will come to Ukraine.”

Faithfuls attend an Orthodox Easter service outside the damaged Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in Peremoha village, Ukraine.
Faithfuls attend an Orthodox Easter service outside the damaged Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in Peremoha village, Ukraine. [Oleg Petrasyuk/EPA-EFE]

Russia says it struck arms depots in Kharkiv region

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

The ministry also said its missile and artillery forces destroyed a further four such arms depots in the same region and hit a facility in Dnipropetrovsk region producing explosives for the Ukrainian army.

Two children killed in shelling in Ukraine’s Donetsk region: Governor

Two children have been killed in shelling by Russian forces, the governor of Ukraine’s Donetsk region has said, urging people to evacuate areas near the fighting.

Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram that the children, girls aged five and 14, had died in the Ocheretynsk community after the building where they lived was destroyed.

Ukraine negotiator says Russia continuously shelling Mariupol

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

“Russia is continuously attacking the Mariupol Azovstal. The place where our civilians and military are located, is shelled with heavy air bombs and artillery,” Podolyak said on Twitter.

He urged Russia to “think about the remnants of its reputation” and called for “a real Easter truce in Mariupol” alongside an immediate humanitarian corridor for civilians and special round of talks to facilitate the exchange of military and civilians.”

Christian Orthodox spiritual leader calls for an end to ‘fratricidal war’ in Ukraine

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

“We call once again for an immediate end to the fratricidal war, which, like any war, undermines human dignity,” Bartholomew said.

Swiss veto German request to re-export ammunition to Ukraine: Report

Switzerland has held up German arms deliveries to Ukraine by blocking the re-export of Swiss-made ammunition used in Marder infantry fighting vehicles that Kyiv would like to get, Swiss paper SonntagsZeitung has reported.

The Marder, made by German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall, uses ammunition manufactured in Switzerland, the paper said. Switzerland restricts the re-export of such war material to conflict zones.

Ukraine says 200 children killed in Russian invasion

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has killed 213 children and injured another 389, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office has said.

The toll does not take include causalities in areas where the conflict is active, the office said on Twitter.

UK says ‘poor Russian morale’ hindering advance in Donbas

Despite Russia making some territorial gains, Ukrainian resistance has been strong across all axes and inflicted a significant cost on Russian forces, the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.

“Poor Russian morale and limited time to reconstitute, re-equip and reorganise forces from prior offensives are likely hindering Russian combat effectiveness,” the update added.

Ukraine says Russia deploys Iskander-M launchers near border

Russia has deployed Iskander-M mobile battlefield missile launchers within 60km (40 miles) of the Ukrainian border, according to Ukraine’s military.

“Then enemy has increased the number of troops in the Belgorod region by transferring and concentrating additional units,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in its daily morning update.

“According to available information, Iskander-M launchers have been deployed 60km from the border with Ukraine,” it said, without providing more detail on the location of the systems.

The Iskander, a mobile ballistic missile system codenamed SS-26 Stone by NATO, replaced the Soviet Scud missile. Its two guided missiles have a range of up to 500km (300 miles) and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.

Poland’s defence aid to Ukraine tops $1.6bn

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says his country has supplied Ukraine with more than $1.6bn worth of weapons since the Russian invasion began.

Ukrainians “are fighting for us, for Europe, for freedom, for peace in Europe. And let everyone be aware of that”, he told reporters.

Polish media reports say the package includes 40 tanks and about 60 armoured cars.

Two Russian missiles shot down in Odesa: Council

Ukrainian forces have shot down two Russian cruise missiles that were flying in the direction of a port near the southern city of Odesa, according to officials.

In a Telegram post, the Odesa city council said the missiles were “launched from the Black Sea area by a Russian ship and were flying towards the port of Pivdennyi”.

Odesa map

Germany must support Ukraine without endangering its own security: Minister

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner has said Berlin must do everything in its power to help Ukraine win the war against Russia but without endangering its own security and NATO’s defence capability.

“We must do everything in our power to help Ukraine win, but the limit of the ethical responsibility is endangering our own security and endangering the defence capability of NATO territory,” Lindner said in a party conference speech in Berlin on Saturday.

“But what is possible … must be undertaken pragmatically and quickly, together with our European partners,” he said.

Lindner said he was in favour of supporting Ukraine with heavy weapons, but that Germany must not become a party to the war.

Vigil for Ukraine held in Toronto

Dozens of people in the Canadian city of Toronto have held a candlelight vigil for Ukraine.

The gathering in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square took place on the Orthodox Holy Saturday.

People attend a candlelight vigil for Ukraine on the Orthodox Holy Saturday, at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
People attend a candlelight vigil for Ukraine on the Orthodox Holy Saturday, at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 23, 2022 [Carlos Osorio/ Reuters]
A woman holds a candle as she sings the national anthem of Ukraine during a candlelight vigil for Ukraine on the Orthodox Holy Saturday, at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
A woman holds a candle as she sings the national anthem of Ukraine during a candlelight vigil for Ukraine on the Orthodox Holy Saturday, at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, Ontario, Canada [Carlos Osorio/ Reuters]

Ukraine says two Russian generals killed in Kherson

Ukraine’s military says it destroyed a Russian command post in Kherson, a southern city that fell to Russian forces early in the war.

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency posted a statement saying the command post was hit on Friday and two generals were killed and one was critically wounded.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, said in an online interview that 50 senior Russian officers were in the command centre when it came under attack. He said their fate was unknown.

The Russian military did not comment on the claim, which could not be confirmed.

Guterres to visit Ankara before trips to Moscow, Kyiv

The secretary-general of the UN will visit Turkey, an important mediator seeking an end to Russia’s war against Ukraine, before heading to Moscow and Kyiv, according to his office.

Guterres “will visit Ankara, Turkey, where, on 25 April, he will be received by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan”, the statement said.

Zelenskyy threatens to exit peace talks over Mariupol, referendums

Ukraine’s president has said Kyiv will withdraw from negotiations if Russian troops kill Ukrainians holed up in a steel plant in Mariupol or conduct referendums for independence in other occupied territories.

“If our men in Mariupol are killed, and if these pseudo-referendums are organised in the south, then Ukraine will withdraw from all negotiations,” Zelenskyy said during a news briefing.

“I believe that this will not facilitate diplomatic settlement of the situation. This will definitely hinder the end of the war. This will be definitely a wrong step taken by Russia.”

Zelenskyy urges Asian nations to support Ukraine

Ukraine’s president has urged countries in Asia to change their treatment of Kyiv, noting that the Russian invasion of his country has affected its ability to export grain to the rest of the world.

“We managed to change, with our unity and strength, the treatment of Ukraine by many European countries. I would very much like countries in Asia to change their treatment of Ukraine, too,” Zelenskyy told reporters.

“Do I sense that they have? No. Have they changed it? I think their people have, for sure. The people of these states know us well. And I feel that the leaders of these countries are getting there.”

Zelenskyy added that the Russian invasion has prevented Ukraine from exporting some 90 million tonnes of grain, noting this could result in rising prices and shortages in some places.

“This can mean starvation,” he said. “This is what Russia has done. We are seeing now that it is not just a war in Europe, it is a war on other continents because of these steps of disrespect towards all life and towards international law.”

Ukraine under curfew for night of Orthodox Easter

Ukraine is under a countrywide curfew for the night of the Orthodox Easter.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said in a video address that in the regions most affected by the invasion – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson – the curfew will run from 7pm on Saturday until 5am on Sunday.

In other regions, including Kyiv, Odesa, Chernihiv and Lviv, the curfew will run from 11pm on Saturday until 5am on Sunday.

Germany’s ex-chancellor rejects criticism over his links with Russia

Germany’s former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has rejected criticism of his work as a lobbyist for Russian energy companies since leaving office in 2005, telling The New York Times: “I don’t do mea culpa.”

In an interview with the newspaper, Schroeder called the war in Ukraine “a mistake” and said atrocities need to be investigated. But he said he did not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin himself ordered killings of civilians such as those allegedly committed by Russian troops in Bucha.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin are depicted in this graffiti exchanging a kiss at the East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany April 2, 2022.
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Putin are depicted in this graffiti exchanging a kiss at the East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany. The slogan reads in German and Russian: ‘Dear God, help me to survive this love’ [File: Anne Barth/Reuters]

Schroeder, who met Putin in Moscow last month on a private mission to broker peace with Ukraine, claimed the Russian president “is interested in ending the war”.

“But that’s not so easy. There are a few points that need to be clarified,” The New York Times quoted him saying, without elaborating.

Poland, Ukraine sign deal on railway transport

Poland and Ukraine have signed an agreement increasing cooperation in the railway transport sector, aiming to help Kyiv maintain its trade exchange with foreign countries as the Russian invasion affects its ports.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Poland’s premier Mateusz Morawiecki met on Saturday in Krakow, Poland.

Shymhal said the agreement signed with Poland provides for the creation of a joint logistics company by the two countries, which will “dramatically increase the rail transportation of Ukrainian exports” to the European Union and “world markets through Europe”.

Ukraine asks IAEA for equipment to operate nuclear power plants

Ukraine has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency for “a comprehensive list of equipment” it needs to operate nuclear power plants during the war with Russia, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said.

This includes radiation measurement devices, protective material, computer-related assistance, power supply systems and diesel generators, he said in a statement.

“We will coordinate the implementation of the assistance that the IAEA and its member states will provide, including by delivering required equipment directly to Ukraine’s nuclear sites,” he said.

Ukraine has 15 operational reactors at four plants of which seven are currently connected to the grid, including two at the Zaporizhzhia facility which is currently controlled by Russia.

Putin attends midnight Orthodox Easter mass in Moscow

Putin has attended an Easter mass conducted by the Russian Orthodox Church, which has strongly backed the Kremlin leader’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Putin, dressed in a dark blue suit, a white shirt and a dark purple tie, stood to one side in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral, holding a lit red candle, live images of the midnight service showed.

The Russian leader crossed himself several times during the ceremony. When Patriarch Kirill announced “Christ has risen”, Putin joined the other members of the congregation with the reply “Truly he is risen”. He otherwise did not speak.

At an outdoor service in Moscow on Saturday, Kirill said he hoped the conflict in Ukraine would end quickly but did not condemn it. His statements backing Russia’s intervention, which has been condemned by Kyiv and Western nations as an act of aggression, have splintered the worldwide Orthodox Church.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Moscow's Mayor Sergei Sobyanin hold candles as they attend the Orthodox Easter service at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow
Putin, left, and Moscow’s Mayor Sergei Sobyanin attend an Orthodox Easter service at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow [Maxim Shemetov/Reuters]

Russia accused of planning to conscript Ukrainians in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia

The Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate and General Staff have accused Russia of planning to conscript Ukrainian civilians from the Russian occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, according to the British Ministry of Defence.

“This would follow similar prior conscription practices in the Russian-occupied Donbas and Crimea,” the ministry said on Twitter.

“Article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states “the occupying power may not compel protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces”, and “no pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment is permitted'”, it added.

Six civilians killed in Ukraine’s Luhansk: Governor

Six civilians died in Russian shelling in the village of Girske in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, its governor has said.

“The village of Girske suffered heavy Russian shelling the entire day,” Sergiy Gayday said on Telegram. “Six inhabitants of the village died.”

Zelenskyy says baby among eight killed in Odesa

Ukraine’s president has said Russian missile attacks killed eight people in the city of Odesa, including a three-month-old child.

He fought back tears at one point during the press conference in a Kyiv metro station, saying that he shared the pain of every Ukrainian who had lost children in Russia’s war.

A Ukraine official had earlier reported that five people were killed after Russian forces fired at least six cruise missiles at Odesa.

OSCE working to secure release of staff held in Ukraine

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe says it is trying to secure the release of a number of Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) staff members detained in eastern Ukraine.

“The OSCE is extremely concerned that a number of SMM national mission members have been deprived of their liberty in Donetsk and Luhansk. The OSCE is using all available channels to facilitate the release of its staff,” its media office said, giving no more details.

In an address to the 157-member body on Friday, the UK’s deputy ambassador to the Vienna-based OSCE, Deirdre Brown, criticised Russia for refusing to extend the SMM’s mission in Ukraine beyond March, and said the UK had “received alarming reports that Russia’s proxies in Donbas are threatening mission staff, equipment and premises and that Russian forces have taken SMM staff members captive”.

Zelenskyy to meet Blinken, Austin in Kyiv

Ukraine’s president says he hopes to secure heavy weapons at talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin in Kyiv on Sunday, supplies that he said were vital for Ukraine to eventually retake Russian-occupied territory.

“As soon as we have [more weapons], as soon as there are enough of them, believe me, we will immediately retake this or that territory, which is temporarily occupied,” he told reporters.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a news conference at a metro station in Kyiv
During a news conference in Kyiv, Zelenskyy again called for a meeting with his Russian counterpart to ‘put an end to the war’ [Gleb Garanic/Reuters]

Zelenskyy slams UN chief’s ‘illogical’ plan to visit Moscow before Kyiv

Ukraine’s president has criticised a decision by UN chief Guterres to visit Moscow on Tuesday before heading to Kyiv on Thursday.

“It is simply wrong to go first to Russia and then to Ukraine,” Zelenskyy told reporters in the Ukraine capital. “There is no justice and no logic in this order,” he added.

“The war is in Ukraine, there are no bodies in the streets of Moscow. It would be logical to go first to Ukraine, to see the people there, the consequences of the occupation,” he said.

Zelenskyy also called for a meeting with Russian leader Putin in an effort to “put an end to the war”.

Read more here.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Saturday, April 23 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies