Saturday, 2 April 2022

Zelenskyy says retreating Russian forces are boobytrapping Ukrainian streets; US pledges military equipment: Live updates

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia is leaving a treacherous landscape in its wake as the invading forces retreat from around Kyiv, boobytrapping streets and civilian homes.
“They are mining the whole territory, they are mining homes, mining equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed,” Zelenskyy said in a video address late Friday.
Zelenskyy urged residents to wait to resume their normal lives until landmines could be cleared and the danger of more shelling has passed.
As talks between the nations resumed Friday, some Russian forces continued pulling away from the Ukraine capital, though Ukrainian and Western officials have warned the move is likely not a signal that the war will wind down. Rather, Russian forces are likely resupplying, they have said.
The peace talks were complicated Friday when the Russians accused Ukraine of a helicopter attack on a Russian fuel depot, which Kyiv denied but would mark the first airstrike from Ukraine on Russian soil.
As the Russian forces exercise their scorched earth policy, the U.S. is pledging to help keep Ukraine supplied. The Department of Defense announced an additional $300 million in military equipment for Ukraine.
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Latest developments:
► Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 3,071 people were able to leave Mariupol on Friday.
► Russian military troops departed the heavily contaminated Chernobyl nuclear power plant Friday, handing control back to Ukrainians.
► A Ukrainian official said there were casualties after at least three Russian ballistic missiles were fired late Friday at the Odesa region on the Black Sea.
Red Cross mission to evacuate Mariupol civilians unsuccessful, will try again
After failing to reach the war-battered city of Mariupol Friday, an International Committee of the Red Cross team said it plans to try again Saturday to evacuate civilians Friday.
Three vehicles and nine personnel could not reach Mariupol to assist in the safe passage of civilians. The ICRC said the team had to return to Zaporizhzhia after they couldn’t proceed with arrangements as planned.
More: The devastation of Mariupol
The organization had previously said tens of thousands of people were depending on the Mariupol operation.
ICRC described their role as a neutral intermediary to accompany individuals out of Mariupol and into another Ukrainian city.
– Ana Faguy
Pope Francis considering Ukraine visit
Pope Francis said Saturday he was considering a visit to the capital city of Ukraine, Kyiv.
While on a flight from Rome to Malta, a reporter asked the pope if he was considering invitations made by Ukrainian authorities.
His response? “Yes it is on the table.”

Pope Francis meets with youth during an audience on March 16, 2022 for the 50th anniversary of Milan’s school “La Zolla”, at St. Peter’s basilica in The Vatican. (Photo by TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Ukraine’s Byzantine-rite Catholic Church, and Ukraine’s ambassador to the Vatican Andirv Yurash are among those who have invited Francis. The pope has spoken with Zelenskyy and Shevchuk by phone.
Last Friday, Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine before an estimated crowd of 3,500 at St. Peter’s Basilica. “Free us from war, protect our word from the menace of nuclear weapons,” he said.
– Ana Faguy
Pentagon announces $300 million more in military gear for Ukraine
The U.S. Department of Defense announced Friday evening it will provide an additional $300 million in military equipment to Ukraine.
“This decision underscores the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in support of its heroic efforts to repel Russia’s war of choice,” said John Kirby, Defense Department press secretary.
Kirby said the equipment will include laser-guided rocket systems, unmanned aircraft, armored vehicles, weapons, ammunition, night vision gear and medical supplies.
The equipment adds to the $1.6 billion in U.S. aid money to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began, he said.
Ukraine disputes Kremlin claims about airstrike on Russian fuel depot
Vyacheslav Gladkov, regional governor of Belgorod, wrote on Telegram on Friday that two Ukrainian helicopters conducted an airstrike late Thursday on the oil facility in Belgorod, about 21 miles from Russia’s border with Ukraine.
Gladkov first wrote that two oil workers were injured but later said there were no victims. And Rosneft, the Russian oil firm that owns the fuel depot, said in a separate statement that no one was hurt in the fire, according to Reuters.
Kyiv has denied any involvement in the attack.
“For some reason they say that we did it, but according to our information this does not correspond to reality,” Ukraine’s Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said on Ukrainian television.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declined to comment on whether he ordered the alleged attack during an interview on Fox News. Zelenskyy said he does not discuss any orders he issues as commander in chief.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine live updates: Russians leaving landmines in streets, Zelenskyy says

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