Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he will meet with top US officials in Kiev on Sunday, as fierce fighting continues in the east and south of the country over Ukraine’s Easter weekend.
The White House has yet to confirm the visit, which Zelensky said would be attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
When a new day dawns in the capital, here’s what you need to know.
Expected visit: Zelensky said he expected “specific things and specific weapons” from world leaders visiting the country after announcing that he would meet Blinken and Austin in Kiev on Sunday. The potential visit would be the first by top US officials since the outbreak of war. The White House declined to comment on the potential trip.
Toll in Odessa: At least eight people, including a three-month-old baby, have been killed after Russian rocket attacks on the southwestern port city of Odessa, Zelensky said on Saturday.
Humanitarian crisis: An evacuation corridor from the besieged southern city of Mariupol was “thwarted” by Russian forces on Saturday, a Ukrainian official said. Ukrainian officials have said there are still more than 100,000 people in the bombed city, which the Russian government claims to control. Ukrainian fighters hold out in the massive Azovstal steel factory, where civilians have been sheltering for weeks and supplies are running out.
Moscow’s plan: Russia revealed that the aim of its invasion is to gain “complete control” over southern Ukraine and the eastern Donbas region and to establish a land corridor connecting Russia to Crimea, the peninsula it annexed in 2014 . A briefing from the British Ministry of Defense on Saturday said Russian forces had made no major gains in the past 24 hours, despite Ukrainian counter-attacks.
Forced deportations: Ukrainian officials on Saturday claimed that Russia forcibly deported some Mariupol civilians to Primorsky Krai in Russia’s Far East, some 8,000 kilometers (4,970 miles) from Ukraine. In early April, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk estimated that some 45,000 Ukrainian citizens have been forcibly deported to Russia since the start of the war.
Forced conscription: Ukrainian intelligence has also accused Russia of plans to employ Ukrainian civilians from the occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhya, according to an update from British military intelligence on Saturday. This would be contrary to international law, according to the British Ministry of Defence.