Highlights:-- UN chief 'deeply shocked' by images of bodies in Bucha, Ukraine: Statement
-- Pope blasts Russia’s ‘infantile’ war
UN chief 'deeply shocked' by images of bodies in Bucha, Ukraine: Statement
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "deeply shocked" by images from the discovery of mass graves in Bucha, near the Ukrainian capital, and called for an independent investigation, his spokesman said Sunday.
"I am deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine. It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability," Guterres said after Ukrainian officials said hundreds of bodies had been found, prompting accusations of war crimes against Russian troops. (AFP)
Over half a million people have returned to Ukraine: Official
More than half a million people have returned to Ukraine since the start of Russia's invasion in February, the Ukrainian interior ministry said on Sunday.
"During the past week, 144,000 people left Ukraine and 88,000 arrived. In total... around 537,000 of our compatriots have returned to Ukraine," the ministry said, citing data from the national border service.
The High Commissioner for Refugees on Saturday said 4,176,401 Ukrainians have left their country since Russia launched its invasion on February 24.
Tens of thousands have been leaving Ukraine daily since the start of the war in what has become Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II.
The UN's International Organisation for Migration said around 205,000 non-Ukrainians have also fled the country.
In total, more than 10 million people have either left their homes, either to neighbouring countries or being displaced within Ukraine.
Before the war, 37 million people lived in territories controlled by Kyiv. That figure does not include the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014 or two eastern regions controlled by pro-Moscow separatists. (AFP)
Kremlin says 'impossible' to fully isolate Russia
The Kremlin said Sunday it is not possible to completely isolate Russia as the West continues piling sanctions on Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine.
"There can be no complete vacuum or isolation of Russia, it is technologically impossible in the modern world," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state TV.
The world is "much larger than Europe", he said, adding: "Sooner or later we will have to build a dialogue, whether some overseas want it or not."
Western capitals slapped Russia with unprecedented economic sanctions after Moscow moved troops into Ukraine on February 24.
There are also travel bans and asset freezes on a number of government figures, including President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking about the possibility of Putin meeting Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, Peskov said it would be "hypothetically possible" but would require a written document agreed by both sides at peace negotiations with Kyiv.
For the meeting to take place, Peskov said the delegations must produce a "specific document".
"Not a set of ideas, but a specific written document," he added.
Earlier on Sunday, Russia's top negotiator in ceasefire talks with Ukraine said it was too early for a top-level meeting on ending the conflict. (AFP)
57 bodies in mass grave in Bucha outside Kyiv: Ukrainian official
Berlin condemns Bucha 'war crime', wants more Russia sanctions
Germany on Sunday condemned the killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha as a "terrible war crime" and called for fresh EU sanctions against Russia.
"This terrible war crime cannot go unanswered," Robert Habeck, vice chancellor and economy minister, told German newspaper Bild the day after the bodies of nearly 300 civilians were found in mass graves after Russian troops withdrew, local Ukrainian officials said.
"I think that a strengthening of sanctions is called for. That's what we are preparing with our EU partners," Habeck added.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the images from Bucha were "unbearable".
"Putin's frantic violence is wiping out innocent families and knows no bounds," she wrote on Twitter, adding that those responsible for war crimes must be held to account.
"We will strengthen the sanctions against Russia and further support the defence of Ukraine," the minister said.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Bucha a "deliberate massacre" and urged G7 countries to impose "devastating" sanctions immediately. (AFP)
Russia preventing Ukraine resupply by Black Sea: UK military intelligence
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 on Sunday. (Reuters)
Series of explosions heard in Ukrainian port of Odesa
Missiles struck Ukraine's southern port city of Odesa in the early hours of Sunday, the city council said in an online post. One of the city's "critical infrastructure facilities" was hit, regional administration spokesperson Sergey Bratchuk told Ukraine's public broadcaster. "We hope there will be no casualties," Bratchuk said. (Reuters)
Dead civilians found in liberated towns
As Ukraine said its forces had retaken all areas around Kyiv, the mayor of a liberated town said 300 residents had been killed during a month-long occupation by the Russian army, and victims were seen in a mass grave and still lying on the streets. (Reuters)
Ukraine claims control over Kyiv region as Russia looks east
Uhkraine said on Saturday it had seized back all areas around Kyiv, claiming complete control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched the invasion. As Russia’s forces regrouped for battles in the east, areas north of Kyiv were littered with destroyed Russian tanks. Ukraine presidential adviser Okeksiy Arestovych said its troops have retaken more than 30 towns and villages since Russia pulled back from the area this week. (Reuters)
Troops shell retreating Russians: Zelenskyy
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.” (Associated Press)
Russian retreat leaves trail of dead civilians in Bucha, a town near Kyiv
Dead civilians still lay scattered over the streets of the Ukrainian country town of Bucha on Saturday, three days after the invading Russian army pulled back from its abortive advance on Kyiv to the southeast. (Reuters)
Lithuania ceasing all Russian gas imports for domestic needs
Lithuania will no longer import Russian gas to meet its domestic needs, becoming the first country in Europe to have secured its independence from Russian supplies, the country's energy ministry said on Saturday. All natural gas for Lithuanian domestic consumption will be imported via the liquified natural gas (LNG) import terminal in the port of Klaipeda, the ministry said in a statement."From this month on - no more Russian gas in Lithuania," Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda tweeted on Saturday, saying the country is breaking "energy ties with the aggressor". "If we can do it, the rest of Europe can do it too," he added. (Reuters)
Red Cross still trying to get people out of Mariupol, Russia says it failed
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Saturday said the operation to help people leave the besieged city of Mariupol was continuing, hours after Russia said it had failed and blamed the organization. Russia's defence ministry said aid convoys had not been able to reach Mariupol on Friday or Saturday and blamed "destructive actions" by the ICRC, Interfax news agency said. (Reuters)
Kremlin says peace talks should continue, lashes "hostile" Ukraine
Russia's talks with a "hostile" Ukraine have not been easy, but the main thing is that they are continuing, RIA news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Saturday. "Ukraine is a very difficult country, very difficult for us. In its current state it is hostile towards us," the agency cited him as telling Belarus television. (Reuters)
Ukrainian photographer and Reuters contributor, Maksim Levin, killed covering war
Maksim Levin, a photographer and videographer who was working for a Ukrainian news website and was a long-time contributor to Reuters, was killed while covering Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He leaves behind his wife and four children. His body was found in a village north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on April 1, the news website LB.ua where he worked said on Saturday. (Reuters)
Air strike damages airfield and fuel depot in Ukraine's Poltava region, says governor
A Russian air strike damaged an airfield runway and fuel depot near the city of Myrhorod in Ukraine's central-eastern Poltava region on Saturday, Governor Dmytro Lunin said in an online post. (Reuters)
Ex-UN prosecutor urges global arrest warrant for Putin
The former chief prosecutor of United Nations war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda has called for an international arrest warrant to be issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin is a war criminal,” Carla Del Ponte told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps in an interview published Saturday. (Associated Press)
Pope blasts Russia’s ‘infantile’ war
Pope Francis said Saturday he was considering a possible visit to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and blasted the leader who launched a “savage” war, delivering his most pointed denunciation yet of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In his remarks in Malta, Francis didn’t cite President Vladimir Putin by name, but the reference was clear when he said “some potentate” had unleashed the threat of nuclear war on the world in an “infantile and destructive aggression.” ((Associated Press)