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Zelenskyy makes impassioned plea, citing hundreds killed in Bucha

Pointing to atrocities Ukrainians say have been committed in Bucha, Zelenskyy has said fresh sanctions from the West would not be "enough" to respond..

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said fresh sanctions from the West would not be "enough" to respond to the atrocities Ukrainians say have been committed in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, where grisly images purportedly show slain civilians.

"There will definitely be a new sanctions package against Russia," Zelenskyy said in a video address Sunday night. "But I'm sure that's not enough," he said as he made an impassioned plea for a stronger international response to Russia's invasion.

Residents of Bucha have accused Russian forces of targeting civilians in a deadly campaign that Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk said left more than 300 people dead before troops pulled out of the city. Russia's Defense Ministry has denied the claims, calling them a "provocation," despite photographs and video showing damaged city streets strewn with dead bodies.

Meanwhile, in southern Ukraine, heavy fighting has continued in the besieged port city of Mariupol, according to Britain's defense ministry. It said as efforts to evacuate residents from the besieged city were set to continue Monday.

See full coverage here.

British foreign secretary to visit Poland, call for tougher sanctions on Russia

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will visit Poland on Monday to call for tougher sanctions on Russia, her office said, as major western countries work together to ramp up the pressure on President Vladimir Putin and end the conflict in Ukraine.

"Putin is yet to show he is serious about diplomacy. A tough approach from the UK and our allies is vital to strengthen Ukraine's hand in negotiations," Truss said.

"Britain has helped lead the way with sanctions to cripple the Putin war machine. We will do more to ramp up the pressure on Russia and we will keep pushing others to do more."

Truss is due to meet Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba in Poland's capital Warsaw later today and her Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau on Tuesday.

Britain, a former European Union member, has coordinated with international allies to impose sanctions on key Russian industries and Moscow's wealthy elites with the aim of crippling its economy in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia's chief investigator orders probe into Ukraine's Bucha claims

Russia's chief investigator ordered an official probe into Ukraine's accusations of Russian forces killing hundreds of civilians in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv. 

In a statement Monday, Russia's Investigative Committee said it was looking into Ukraine's claims, as well as images shared by Ukrainian officials that it said aimed to "discredit the Russian military personnel." 

Russia has rejected the claim that its forces killed civilians in Bucha, despite photos and video appearing to show dead bodies on city streets as its troops pulled out of Bucha and other cities near Kyiv. It has branded Ukraine's claims a "provocation." NBC News has not been able to independently verify the photos. 

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's deputy ambassador to the United Nations said in a tweet Sunday that Russia would also be requesting a meeting of the U.N.'s security council over what he called a "heinous provocation." 

Families arrive at the main train station as they flee the eastern city of Kramatorsk, in the Donbas region of Ukraine on Sunday.

Fadel Senna / AFP - Getty Images

Poland calls for commission to investigate Russian 'genocide'

Poland is calling for the creation of a specialist commission to investigate what it called "the crime of genocide" after reports emerged of alleged atrocities in recent days, including the killing of civilians. 

"Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel and Motyzhyn are the places we will remember. The Russians committed the crime of genocide. It must be properly documented and judged, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a speech Monday, referring to Russia as "a totalitarian, fascist state."

Morawiecki, whose government has repeatedly clashed with the European Union over Poland's legal reforms, called on E.U. leaders to "act decisively and implement actions that will finally break Putin's war machine."

7 dead, 34 injured in Kharkiv shelling, officials say

Seven people were killed and at least 34 injured, including three children, in renewed shelling of Kharkiv on Sunday, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukraine's prosecutor general's office said in a Telegram post Monday that an investigation was underway following the attack, which it said unfolded at around 6 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET) Sunday.

According to the office, Russian forces fired on residential buildings in the Slobidsky district of Kharkiv. NBC News was unable to independently verify the claim. 

Humanitarian corridor expected to open in Mariupol

A humanitarian corridor from the besieged port city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia is expected to be open on Monday, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said. 

In a video address shared on Telegram Monday, Vereshchuk said the corridor would be designated for private vehicles. She said 15 buses destined for Mariupol had already left Zaporizhzhia as well. 

Meanwhile evacuation efforts continue in the Luhansk region, she said, including from the cities of Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna, Nyzhne and Rubizhne.

Russian forces 'reorganize' as offensive shifts to Donbas region, U.K. says

Russian forces continue to “consolidate and reorganize” as they refocus their offensive on the Donbas region in the east of Ukraine, Britain's defense ministry has said. 

The defense ministry said Russia has been moving troops, along with “mercenaries from the Russian state-linked Wagner private military company,” into the area in its latest intelligence update. 

In an earlier update, it said heavy fighting continued to take place in the besieged port city of Mariupol. 

It said the city continued to be subject to "intense, indiscriminate strikes," but said Ukrainian forces have maintained a "staunch resistance, retaining control in central areas." 

Ukraine prosecutor-general says 410 civilian bodies found near Kyiv

KYIV, Ukraine —Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian forces.

Iryna Venediktova, Ukraine’s prosecutor-general, says on Facebook that the bodies were removed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She says 140 of them have undergone examination by prosecutors and other specialists.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says Sunday that the mayor of the village of Motyzhyn, in the Kyiv region, was murdered while being held by Russian forces. Vereshchuk added that there are 11 mayors and community heads in Russian captivity across Ukraine.

In a video address on Sunday, Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the allegedly targeted killings of civilians in towns the Russians occupied and called them “freaks who do not know how to do otherwise.” He warned that more atrocities may be revealed if Russian forces are driven out of other occupied areas.

International leaders have condemned the reported attacks on the Kyiv-area towns after harrowing accounts from civilians and graphic images of bodies with hands tied behind their backs.

Zelenskyy has said the Russian attacks in Ukraine amount to genocide. Russia’s Defense Ministry has rejected the claims of atrocities against civilians in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv.

Zelenskyy decries war atrocities in new address, saying, 'Evil will be punished'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered his harshest rebuke yet Sunday as Russian forces retreated from the war-torn city of Bucha, Ukraine, leaving in their wake a mass of what appeared to be civilian fatalities.

"Today this appeal will be without congratulations. I do not want any extra words. Presidents do not usually record appeals like this. But today I have to say just that. To say after what opened in Bucha and our other cities, from which the occupiers were chased out. Hundreds of people were killed. Tortured, shot — civilians. Bodies on the streets. Mined territory," Zelenskyy said. "The bodies of the dead were mined." 

Zelenskyy switched from speaking Ukrainian and made a direct appeal in Russian, saying: "I want every mother of every Russian soldier to see the bodies of the killed people in Bucha, in Irpin, in Hostomel. What did they do? Why were they killed? What did the man who was riding his bicycle down the street do? Why were ordinary civilians tortured to death in an ordinary peaceful city? Why were women strangled after their earrings were torn out of their ears? How could women be raped and killed in front of children? Their bodies were mocked even after death. Why did they crush the bodies of people with tanks? What did the Ukrainian city of Bucha do to your Russia? How did all this become possible?" 

He added: "Russian mothers! Even if you raised marauders, how did they also become executioners? You couldn't help but know what's inside your children. You could not help but notice that they are deprived of everything human. No soul. No heart. They killed deliberately and with pleasure."

Speaking again in Ukrainian, Zelenskyy said that "evil will be punished" and that he had created a "special mechanism of justice" in Ukraine to investigate and prosecute every crime of Russian occupiers in the country.

"The essence of this mechanism is the joint work of national and international experts: investigators, prosecutors and judges. This mechanism will help Ukraine and the world to bring to justice those who unleashed or in any way participated in this terrible war against the Ukrainian people and in crimes against our people," he said.

British Prime Minister Johnson calls attacks in Ukraine 'despicable'

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Russia’s attack on Ukrainian civilians in towns on the outskirts of Kyiv “are yet more evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his army are committing war crimes in Ukraine.”

Johnson called the attacks in the towns of Irpin and Bucha “despicable” and says he “will do everything in my power to starve Putin’s war machine.” Johnson added that the U.K. will step up its sanctions and military support for Ukraine but did not provide details.

Other European leaders also condemned the reported attacks on Ukrainian civilians in response to images of bodies in the streets and some of the dead with their hands tied behind their backs.

Leaders in France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic and Poland expressed outrage at the images. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala called the images ”horrifying” and says Russia has been committing war crimes.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says international organizations should be given access to the areas to independently document the atrocities.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says his country will work with Ukrainian authorities and the International Criminal Court “to ensure these acts don’t go unpunished."

NATO leader condemns 'brutality' in Ukraine

BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the graphic images coming out of Bucha, Ukraine, after Russian troops withdrew show “a brutality against civilians we haven’t seen in Europe for decades.’’

He tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that “it’s absolutely unacceptable that civilians are targeted and killed" and that it's Russian President Vladimir Putin's responsibility to stop the war.

Stoltenberg says it’s “extremely important” that the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into potential war crimes in Ukraine and that those responsible are held to account.

His comments echoed those by other European leaders, who condemned alleged war crimes and civilian killings by Russian forces in Ukrainian towns, including Bucha near Kyiv, the capital.

Bucha residents say Russian troops killed civilians

BUCHA, Ukraine — Residents of the Ukrainian town of Bucha, near the capital of Kyiv, have given harrowing accounts of how Russian troops shot and killed civilians without any apparent reason.

Bodies of civilians lay strewn across the northern town, which was controlled by Russian soldiers for about a month.

At a logistics compound that residents say was used as a base by Russian forces, the bodies of eight men could be seen dumped on the ground, some with their hands tied behind their backs.

People react as they gather close to a mass grave in the town of Bucha, Kyiv oblast, Ukraine, on April 3, 2022.
People react as they gather close to a mass grave in the town of Bucha, Kyiv oblast, Ukraine, on April 3, 2022.Sergei Supinsky / AFP - Getty Images

Residents say Russian troops would go from building to building, take people out of the basements where they were hiding from the fighting, check their phones for evidence of anti-Russian activity and take them away or shoot them.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has rejected the claims of atrocities against civilians in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv as a “provocation.”

The ministry says that “not a single civilian has faced any violent action by the Russian military“ in Bucha.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told a U.S. television interview Sunday that Russian attacks in Ukraine amount to genocide.

Ukraine's foreign minister calls for war crime evidence collection, sanctions over Bucha 'massacre'

Ukraine's foreign minister called Sunday on international organizations, including the International Criminal Court, to come to the Kyiv region as soon as possible and collect evidence of any possible war crimes after Russian troops retreated from its cities and towns, leaving a path of destruction. 

In a tweet, Dmytro Kuleba called on the G7 to impose "devastating" new sanctions on Moscow and accused Russia of carrying out a deliberate "massacre" in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv, while sharing graphic images of bodies strewn on the streets and around town.  

Ukraine said on Saturday its forces had retaken all areas around Kyiv. 

"We are still collecting and looking for bodies, but the toll has already gone into the hundreds. Dead bodies lie on the streets," Kuleba said, according to a separate statement from his ministry. 

Russia's ministry of defense Sunday denied allegations of war crimes and atrocities in the town of Bucha.

Russian forces committing 'genocide,' Zelenskyy says

Zelenskyy accused Russia of genocide Sunday after Ukrainian authorities said they found bodies with their hands tied and bullets to the head after Russian forces withdrew from Bucha, a town neighboring Irpin, about 23 miles northwest of Kyiv.

Zelenskyy said "this is genocide" on CBS's "Face the Nation" when he was asked whether he believed the Western world would be able to hold Putin accountable for war crimes alleged to have been committed by Russian troops.

"We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities," he said. "We are the citizens of Ukraine, and we don't want to be subdued to the policy of Russian Federation."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg refrained from describing Russia's actions as genocide on CNN's "State of the Union."

The U.S. will "document everything that we see, put it all together, make sure the relevant institutions and organizations looking at this — including the State Department — have everything they need to assess what took place in Ukraine, who's responsible and what it amounts to," Blinken said.

Stoltenberg said Moscow's military has committed "a brutality against civilians we haven't seen in Europe for decades, and it's horrific, and it's absolutely unacceptable that civilians are [being] targeted and killed."

Russia's defense ministry denies Ukrainian allegations of war atrocities

BUCHA, Ukraine — Russia's defense ministry denied Ukrainian allegations of war atrocities Sunday as its military pulled out of Bucha, saying video and photographs showing dead bodies in Bucha were "yet another provocation" by Kyiv.

In Russia's first public comment about the allegations, the defense ministry described photos and videos from Bucha as "another staged performance by the Kyiv regime for the Western media."

"During the time that Russian armed forces were in control of this settlement, not a single local resident suffered from any violent actions," it said.

Russia has denied targeting civilians and rejected allegations of war crimes in what it calls a "special military operation" to "demilitarize" and "de-Nazify" Ukraine.

On Saturday, Reuters saw bodies in a mass grave and still lying on the streets, while on Sunday the mayor of Bucha, Anatoliy Fedoruk, showed reporters two corpses with white cloth tied around their arms, one of which appeared to have been shot in the mouth.

White House chief of staff: Russia's retreat likely 'strategic redeployment' by Putin

White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Sunday that Ukrainians are "winning the war around Kyiv and the northern part of the country" but that the war has not been won.

Russia's retreat from those areas is likely due to "a strategic redeployment by Putin and Russia’s military commanders," Klain said on ABC’s “This Week."

“There’s a lot of evidence that Putin is simply taking his troops out of the northern part of the country to redeploy them to the eastern part of the country,” Klain said. “There have been victories for the Ukrainians so far, but this war, sadly, is far from over.”

Photos: Communal workers carry the body of a civilian man killed by Russian shelling in Bucha, Ukraine

Communal workers carry body bags to a van following Russian shelling of the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 3, 2022.
Communal workers carry the body of a civilian man killed by Russian shelling in Bucha, Kyiv oblast, Ukraine, on on April 3, 2022.
Communal workers carry the body of a civilian man killed by Russian shelling in Bucha, Kyiv oblast, Ukraine, on on April 3, 2022.Sergei Supinsky / AFP - Getty Images

French, German leaders join growing condemnation of alleged war crimes in Ukrainian towns, including Bucha near Kyiv

PARIS — French and German leaders have joined in growing international condemnation of alleged war crimes and civilian killings committed by Russian forces in Ukrainian towns, including in Bucha, near Kyiv.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed shock Sunday about the “terrible and horrifying footage that has reached us this weekend from Ukraine.

“Dozens of shot civilians have been discovered in Bucha. ... Streets littered with bodies. Bodies buried in makeshift conditions. There is talk of women, children and the elderly among the victims,” he said. He added that international organizations should be given access to the areas to independently document the atrocities.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian condemned “in the strongest terms” the alleged “massive abuses.” He said France will work with Ukrainian authorities and the International Criminal Court “to ensure these acts don’t go unpunished and that those responsible are being sent to trial and convicted.”

Firefighter work to extinguish a fire at an oil refinery following a missile attack near the port city of Odesa, Ukraine, on April 3, 2022.
Firefighter work to extinguish a fire at an oil refinery following a missile attack near the port city of Odesa, Ukraine, on April 3, 2022.Nacho Doce / Reuters

NATO chief: This is 'not a real withdrawal'

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday said Russia is shifting its strategy in Ukraine, explaining that Putin's retreat from Kyiv is not a sign that he is withdrawing from the country.

“What we see is not a real withdrawal," Stoltenberg said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "What we see is that Russia is repositioning its troops, and they are taking some of them back to rearm them, to reinforce them, to resupply them. But we should not in a way be too optimistic because the attacks will continue."

His remarks came after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned of a Russian buildup of forces in the east of his war-torn country, in a video posted to Telegram on Saturday. In an intelligence briefing, British defense officials said Moscow's naval forces have continued to blockade areas on Ukraine's southern coast, preventing resupply by sea.

There is concern about "potential increased attacks, especially in the south and in the east. So this is not a real withdrawal but more a shift in the strategy, focusing more on the south and the east," Stoltenberg added.

Blinken warns Putin could still use ‘airpower and missiles’ on Kyiv as Russia retreats

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that Russia's original plan to take over Ukraine has been dealt a "devastating setback" after Ukraine said its forces had retaken the region around Kyiv.

"They may be focusing on the east, but let's keep in mind they still have the ability to wreak massive death and destruction, including in places like Kyiv, with airpower and missiles," Blinken said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "And at the same time, they may be regrouping. They may be recalibrating."

In a video posted to Telegram on Saturday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia was building up forces in the east of the country and called on Western countries to provide more anti-missile systems. Russia wants to "capture both the Donbas and the south of Ukraine," he said.

The U.S. has a strong interest in ending the violence, Blinken said, and "the way to do that is to give Ukraine the strongest possible hand to put as much pressure as we possibly can on Russia, while we're strengthening our own defenses."

"That's exactly what we've been doing," he added. "Time is certainly not on Vladimir Putin's side, because, as I said, a sovereign, independent Ukraine has demonstrated it's going to be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is on the scene."

Pope prays for end to ‘sacrilegious’ war in Ukraine

Pope Francis prayed Sunday for an end to the “sacrilegious” war in Ukraine and for the world to show kindness and compassion to refugees as he concluded a two-day visit to Malta that was dominated by his concern for the devastation unleashed by Russia’s invasion.

Francis asked for prayers for peace in Ukraine, a day after he blasted Russia’s invasion as “infantile” and based on “anachronistic claims of nationalistic interests.”

He urged the faithful to “think of the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in the martyred Ukraine, which continues to be bombarded in this sacrilegious war. May we be tireless in praying and in offering assistance to those who suffer.”

Russian naval forces block Ukraine's resupply by Black Sea, U.K. military intelligence says

Russian naval forces continue to blockade the Ukrainian coast on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, preventing resupply by sea, British military intelligence said Sunday.

In its latest assessment of the situation, the U.K.'s defense ministry tweeted that Russia still retains the capability to attempt an amphibious landing, but such an operation is likely to be increasingly high risk given the time Ukrainian forces have had to prepare. 

"Reported mines within the Black Sea pose a serious risk to maritime activity," it added.

The report said the origin of the mines was unclear and disputed, but their presence was almost certainly the result of Russian naval activity in the area, demonstrating how its invasion of Ukraine is affecting neutral and civilian interests.

NBC News could not immediately verify the report.

Community leaders are being held in Russian captivity, Ukraine says

Eleven community leaders from six regions remain in Russian captivity, Ukraine's deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said Sunday. 

They include officials from Kyiv, Kherson, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv and Donetsk regions, Vereshchuk said in a statement shared on the Telegram messaging app.

She added that Ukraine had informed "the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations and all possible organizations" about their situation. Ukraine had also alerted the organizations about other missing people, Vereshchuk said.  

"We demand that they do everything possible to free our civilians, mayors, priests, journalists and activists," she continued. "They are being held illegally and forcibly, and they have the right to be fought for. We do it and we encourage others to do it." 

Humanitarian corridors set to open Sunday, Ukraine's Deputy PM says

More evacuations out of Ukraine's war-ravaged cities are planned for Sunday, Ukraine's deputy prime minister said in a message on the Telegram messaging app. 

"We continue to evacuate people from Mariupol to Zaporizhia," Iryna Vereshchuk said. "There are currently 17 buses near Berdyansk - 10 of them are for the evacuation of Mariupol residents and local residents. If they are not allowed into the city, we ask people to come to the checkpoint at the entrance to Berdyansk - there they will be waiting for you."

Another seven buses accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross will try to get closer to Mariupol, she added.

People will also be allowed to leave from Mariupol to Zaporizhia in their private cars.

In the Luhansk region, evacuations are planned from the towns of Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna, Rubizhne, and the village of Nyzhne, Vereshchuk said.

Peace talks are not ready for leaders' meeting, Russia's chief negotiator says

Russia said on Sunday that peace talks with Ukraine had not progressed enough for a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"The draft agreement is not ready for submission to a meeting at the top," Russia's chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said in a post on the Telegram messaging app. 

On Saturday, the head of the Ukrainian delegation, David Arakhamia, said in an interview on Ukraine's Rada TV channel that draft peace treaty documents between Ukraine and Russia were at an advanced enough stage to allow for direct consultations between the leaders. 

Arakhamia added that Zelensky and Putin "with a high degree of probability" will be meeting in Turkey.

The two sides have held periodic talks since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24, but there has been no breakthrough and they remain far apart on the question of territory.

Human Rights Watch documents apparent war crimes in Ukraine

Russian forces were accused of "apparent war crimes" in a Sunday report by Human Rights Watch, which said its investigators had documented "summary executions" and "other grave abuses" in several regions they controlled in Ukraine. 

The group said in a report that it had been told about two cases of summary execution, the repeated rape of a mother and other cases of unlawful violence and threats against civilians. These offenses were committed between Feb. 27 and March 14, it said. 

Russian soldiers were also implicated in looting civilian property, including food, clothing and firewood, it said. 

“The cases we documented amount to unspeakable, deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Rape, murder, and other violent acts against people in the Russian forces’ custody should be investigated as war crimes.”

Southern port city Odesa hit by missile strikes

Russian missiles struck “critical infrastructure” in the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa early Sunday, its mayor said on Facebook. 

There were no initial reports of casualties, Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov said. He did not clarify what critical infrastructure was hit. Odesa is the key strategic port on the Black Sea that serves as the main base for Ukraine's navy.

In a TV interview, Trukhanov said later that the strikes had led to fires and smoke. He added that some houses had been damaged. 

Russia's military said missiles from ships and aircraft struck an oil refinery and fuel and lubricants storage facilities near the city, the Interfax news agency reported. 

Odesa has not been the scene a lot of military action since the invasion. If Russian forces were to gain control of it, they could cut off Ukraine’s access to the sea and Moscow would be able to build a land corridor all the way to the border with Moldova.

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.