UK: Russian forces reported to have withdrawn from Kyiv-area airport
Russian forces are said to have withdrawn from an airport near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv where there has been fighting since the Feb. 24 invasion, the British defense ministry said Saturday.
Russian forces have withdrawn from Hostomel airport, which is northwest of the capital, the United Kingdom said in an intelligence update.
Ukrainian forces have also re-taken some villages and "secured a key route in eastern Kharkhiv after heavy fighting," the U.K. assessment said.
Kharkhiv is in northeastern Ukraine near the Russian border.
Zelenskyy: Troops shell retreating Russians
LVIV, Ukraine – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian troops retaking areas around Kyiv and Chernihiv are not allowing Russians to retreat without a fight, but are “shelling them. They are destroying everyone they can.”
Zelenskyy, in his Saturday night video address to the nation, said Ukraine knows Russia has the forces to put even more pressure on the east and south of Ukraine.
“What is the goal of the Russian troops? They want to seize the Donbas and the south of Ukraine,” he said. “What is our goal? To defend ourselves, our freedom, our land and our people.”
He said a significant portion of the Russian forces are tied up around Mariupol, where the city’s defenders continue to fight.
“Thanks to this resistance, thanks to the courage and resilience of our other cities, Ukraine has gained invaluable time, time that is allowing us to foil the enemy’s tactics and weaken its capabilities,” Zelenskyy said.
Lithuania says it's the first European country to fully nix Russian natural gas
Lithuania on Saturday declared it has completely cut off Russian natural gas imports, becoming the first European Union nation to fully nix supplies from Russia's state-owned fuel supplier, Gazprom, its Ministry of Energy said in a statement.
The country has been headed toward freedom from Russian natural gas since before the February invasion of Ukraine, the ministry said. Citing data from a transmission system operator, the ministry said it had no traces of the Russian fuel in its pipelines.
"We are the first EU country among Gazprom's supply countries to gain independence from Russian gas supplies, and this is the result of a multi-year coherent energy policy and timely infrastructure decisions," said Minister of Energy Dainius Kreivys said in the statement.
Lithuanians are dependent on liquified natural gas imported through the Klaipėda Oil Terminal, the ministry said, and other imports are "enough" to satisfy its heating and cooking needs. If necessary, the country could also open gas delivery through Latvia and, starting in May, Poland, the ministry said.
200 arrested across Russia at anti-war demonstrations, watchdog group says
A Russian group that monitors political arrests says 208 people were detained in demonstrations held Saturday across the country protesting Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
The OVD-Info group said demonstrations took place in 17 Russian cities, from Siberia to the more densely populated west. More than 70 people were detained in Moscow and a similar number in St. Petersburg, the organization said.
Video released by another group that monitors protests, Avtozak, showed some detainees being led to police prisoner transports as they smiled and carried flowers. Others were shown to be more harshly forced into the transports, bent over with their arms pinioned behind them.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government has cracked down heavily on dissent, even before Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Zelenskyy and UK Prime Minister discuss war, peace negotiations
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with U.K.'s Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday to discuss ongoing peace negotiations.
Johnson "congratulated Ukraine's brave armed forces for successfully pushing back Russia's invading army in a number of areas, but recognized the huge challenges that remain and the immense suffering being inflicted on civilians," a Downing Street spokesperson said.
Johnson updated Zelenskyy on last week's military donor conference and said he would continue to help with defensive support.
"President Zelenskyy also updated on the status of peace negotiations and welcomed further UK involvement in these diplomatic efforts," the spokesperson said. "Both leaders agreed on the importance of continuing to ratchet up sanctions to increase the economic pressure on Putin's war machine, so long as Russian troops remain on Ukrainian territory."
Johnson and Zelenskyy said they would remain in close contact.
Ukrainian negotiator: Draft peace treaty documents at stage to allow direct talks between Putin, Zelenskyy
Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said in an interview on Ukraine's Rada TV channel Saturday that draft peace treaty documents between Ukraine and Russia were at an advanced enough stage to allow for direct talks between Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and there was a high probability that such a meeting could take place in Turkey.
According to Arakhamia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan "called both us and Vladimir Putin yesterday, and he seemed to confirm for his part that they were ready to organize a meeting in the near future."