Ukraine latest updates: Kyiv says 410 civilian bodies found

Ukraine news from April 3: Prosecutor says the bodies of 410 civilians have been recovered from areas near Kyiv.

Soldiers walk amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine
Soldiers walk amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv [Rodrigo Abd/AP]
  • Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says 410 civilian bodies have been recovered in the areas Russia withdrew from in the wider Kyiv region.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of carrying out a genocide in his country.
  • Ukraine says it has regained control of “the whole Kyiv region” after Russian forces retreated from key towns near the Ukrainian capital.
  • Zelenskyy says retreating Russian troops are leaving behind land mines, creating a “catastrophic” situation.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine map Who controls what in Kyiv DAY 39

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These were the updates from April 3:

Ukrainian mayor shows dead bodies from Bucha

The mayor of a recently liberated Ukrainian city has accused Russian troops of deliberately killing civilians during their month-long occupation of his town.

The mayor of Bucha, Anatoliy Fedoruk, showed two corpses to Reuters correspondents,  with white cloth tied around their arms which he said was what residents were forced to wear by fighters from Chechnya, a region in southern Russia that has deployed troops to Ukraine to support Russian forces.

One corpse had his hands bound by the white cloth, and appeared to have been shot in the mouth, the agency said.

Ukraine evacuates 2,694 people from conflict areas: official

Ukraine has evacuated 2,694 people from conflict zones in Mariupol and the region of Luhansk, according to Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

She said Ukrainian officials were in talks with Russia to allow several Red Cross buses to enter the city of Mariupol.

Slovakia says paying in roubles for gas could be an option

The economy minister of Slovakia, which relies on Russian gas for about 85 percent of its demand, has said the country could not be cut off from Russian gas flows.

Richard Sulik added that if the country had to pay in roubles it would, although it backed taking a common European Union stance.

Russia has demanded payment for gas in roubles, but the European Commission said on Friday European companies whose supply contracts stipulate payment in euros or dollars should not meet this demand.

Polish PM calls for tough response to civilian deaths in Ukraine

The European Union must impose harsher sanctions on Russia and supply Ukraine with more arms, Poland’s prime minister has said, as he called for an international tribunal to investigate killings in the town of Bucha.

“The crimes Russia has committed on close to 300 inhabitants of Bucha and other towns outside Kyiv must be called acts of genocide and be dealt with as such,” Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Facebook.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at a press conference
The crimes Russia has committed outside Kyiv must be called acts of genocide, Mateusz Morawiecki wrote [File: Reuters]

“Everyone responsible – directly or indirectly – must be severely punished by an international tribunal.”

Ukraine says Russia shelled Kharkiv

Russian forces have shelled Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv on Sunday, killing and injuring a number of people, according to the region’s governor.

“In the evening, the occupiers shelled the Slobidsky district of Kharkiv,” Governor Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram.

“Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded among the civilian population. As of this time, there are 23 casualties, including children. The figures are being established.”

Russia denies killing civilians in Ukraine’s Bucha

Russia has denied Ukrainian allegations that it had killed civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, describing footage and photographs of dead bodies as a “provocation” and a “staged performance” by Kyiv.

Ukraine has accused the Russian military of massacring residents of Bucha, a town northwest of the capital Kyiv, an area Ukrainian troops said they recaptured on Saturday.

“All the photos and videos published by the Kyiv regime, allegedly testifying to the ‘crimes’ of Russian servicemen in the city of Bucha, Kyiv region, are another provocation,” Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement.

Ukrainian prosecutors say 410 bodies found in towns near Kyiv

Ukrainian prosecutors investigating possible war crimes by Russia have found 410 bodies in towns near Kyiv and 140 of them have been examined.

The announcement was made on television by Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.

Zelenskyy accuses Russia of ‘genocide’

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of carrying out a genocide in his country.

“Indeed, this is genocide. The elimination of the whole nation and the people,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” news programme.

“We are the citizens of Ukraine and we don’t want to be subdued to the policy of Russian Federation. This is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Zelenskyy says Russia seeks the elimination of the whole Ukrainian nation [File: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP]

Search for booby-traps in Bucha as death toll is expected to rise

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, who was in Bucha during the day, has said that the Ukrainian forces are going from house to house in the town after taking it over.

“They are looking for booby-traps the Russian forces might have left behind,” he said, reporting from Kyiv.

“The Ukrainians are also looking for more casualties that may be trapped inside buildings,” Khan added.

He also said that the number of people killed in the town, which was initially announced as 300, is expected to increase.

Images of dead in Bucha a ‘punch in the gut’: Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said images of dead Ukrainian civilians found in the town of Bucha after Russian troops left were a “punch in the gut” and those responsible for any war crimes must be held accountable.

Blinken’s comments in a CNN interview came a day after Ukrainian forces moved into the town near Kyiv and found what officials and witnesses said were the bodies of nearly 300 civilians killed by Russian troops.

“We can’t help but see these images as a punch in the gut,” Blinken said, before noting that President Joe Biden’s administration has said it believes Russian forces have committed war crimes and that it is helping collect evidence.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks towards Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi during a joint press availability along with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong
Blinken says Washington believes that Russian forces have committed war crimes [File: Kevin Lamarque/Pool via Reuters]

Ukraine says shelling continued night and day in Donetsk

The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region has said that shelling had continued throughout the night and day, and described the situation in the region as “turbulent”.

Ukraine’s military has said it believes that Russia has pulled forces from the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions to move them to Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas for a new attack aiming to occupy all of both the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

NATO’s Stoltenberg: Russian pullback from Kyiv not a real withdrawal

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Russia’s pullback of troops from the Ukrainian capital is not a real withdrawal.

The move is rather a repositioning that could be followed by further attacks, Stoltenberg said in an interview on CNN.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gestures
Stoltenberg warns that there could be further attacks on Kyiv [File: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters]

France condemns ‘massive abuses’ by Russian forces

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said that he firmly condemned what he called the “massive abuses” committed by Russian forces in Ukraine in the recent weeks.

Le Drian mentioned in particular the town of Bucha outside Kyiv, where Ukrainian authorities say a deliberate “massacre” was carried out by Russia.

Le Drian added in the same statement that such abuses would constitute war crimes and that France will work with Ukrainian authorities and the International Criminal Court to put on trial those responsible for these abuses.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian delivers a speech
French FM says Russian abuses in Ukraine constitute war crimes [File: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters]

Russia must pay for ‘war crimes’ in Bucha: Germany

Germany’s foreign minister has said Russia must pay for its “war crimes” in the Ukrainian town of Bucha just outside the capital in the form of more severe sanctions, denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “uninhibited violence”.

The mayor of Bucha said that 300 residents had been killed during a month-long occupation by the Russian army. Victims who were not in mass graves were still lying on the streets.

“The images from Bucha are unbearable, Putin’s uninhibited violence is extinguishing innocent families and knows no boundaries,” Annalena Baerbock wrote on Twitter.

Borrell says EU will assist Kyiv in documenting war crimes

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has congratulated Ukraine on the “liberation” of the Kyiv region and has offered help in documenting war crimes.

“Shocked by news of atrocities committed by Russian forces,” Borrell wrote on Twitter. “All cases must be pursued, namely by [the International Criminal Court].”

Kremlin says ‘impossible’ to fully isolate Russia

The Kremlin has said 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 that “sooner or later we will have to build a dialogue, whether some overseas want it or not.”

Ukraine says Bucha ‘massacre’ was deliberate, demands new Russia sanctions

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Russia of carrying out a deliberate “massacre” in the town of Bucha, outside Kyiv, and called on the G7 to impose “devastating” new sanctions on Moscow.

“Dead bodies lie on the streets. They killed civilians while staying there and when they were leaving these villages and towns,” his ministry quoted him as saying on Twitter.

Russia has so far not commented publicly on the claims. Moscow has previously repeatedly denied Ukrainian claims that it has targeted civilians.

Berlin condemns Bucha ‘war crime’, wants more Russia sanctions

Germany’s vice chancellor and economy minister has said a “terrible war crime” had been carried out in the Ukrainian town of Bucha and called for fresh EU sanctions against Russia.

“This terrible war crime cannot go unanswered,” Robert Habeck told German newspaper Bild the day after the bodies of nearly 300 civilians were found in mass graves after Russian troops withdrew.

“I think that a strengthening of sanctions is called for. That’s what we are preparing with our EU partners,” Habeck added.

Russia to ask for rouble payments for food and crops

Russia will only export food and crops to “friendly countries” in roubles or in their national currencies, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy secretary of the country’s Security Council, was quoted by RIA news agency as saying.

The comment comes after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia’s demand for rouble payments for gas was likely to be applied to more goods.

“I have no doubt that it will in the future be extended to new groups of goods,” Peskov said, according to the RIA news agency.

Ukraine Mykolaiv port city hit in rocket attack: interior ministry

Anton Gerashchenko, an aide to Ukraine’s interior ministry, has said several Russian rockets have hit the port of Mykolaiv.

Local authorities had reported the attack, Gerashchenko said in a social media post.

Russian forces have intensified attacks on southern ports including Odesa, Mykolaiv and Mariupol as they try to cut Ukraine off from the Black Sea and establish a land corridor from Russia to Crimea, the peninsula Moscow seized in 2014.

Ukraine March grain exports fall sharply

Ukrainian grain exports in March have been four times lower than February levels due to the Russian invasion, the economy ministry has said.

Grain shipments overseas included 1.1 million tonnes of corn, 309,000 tonnes of wheat, and 118,000 tonnes of sunflower oil, the ministry added.

Ukraine was the world’s fourth-largest grain exporter in the 2020-2021 season, according to International Grains Council data, with most of its commodities shipped out via the Black Sea. Traders are now forced to transport grain by rail to avoid the southern coast, where war is raging.

UK says alleged attacks on civilians in Ukraine must be investigated as war crimes

Allegations of attacks against civilians during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must be investigated as war crimes, British foreign secretary Liz Truss has said, adding that the UK would fully support any such move by the International Criminal Court.

“As Russian troops are forced into retreat, we are seeing increasing evidence of appalling acts by the invading forces in towns such as Irpin and Bucha,” Truss said in a statement.

“Their indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians during Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine must be investigated as war crimes.”

Kyiv mayor accuses Russia of committing genocide

The mayor of Kyiv has expressed shock at what he called “cruel war crimes” committed by Russian soldiers in the town of Bucha, northwest of the capital.

Referring to reports of executed civilians, Vitali Klitschko told German daily Bild on Sunday that “what happened in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv can only be described as genocide.”

He added that civilians had been “shot with tied hands” and called on the whole world and especially Germany to immediately end gas imports from Russia.

EU chief pledges more sanctions after Russian army ‘atrocities’ near Kyiv

EU chief Charles Michel has pledged further sanctions on Moscow as he condemned “atrocities” carried out by Russian forces outside Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.

“Shocked by haunting images of atrocities committed by Russian army in Kyiv liberated region #BuchaMassacre,” the European Council head wrote on Twitter.

“EU is assisting Ukraine & NGO’s in gathering of necessary evidence for pursuit in international courts.”

Poland says it would welcome more US troops in Europe

The leader of Poland’s ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) has said Warsaw would welcome a 50 percent increase in the number of US troops stationed in Europe, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Poland would be pleased if the Americans increased their presence in Europe from the current 100,000 soldiers up to 150,000 in the future due to Russia’s increasing aggressiveness,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

“Of these, 75,000 soldiers should be stationed on the eastern flank; i.e. on the border with Russia; 50,000 soldiers in the Baltic states and Poland,” he said.

Odesa missile raids destroyed oil refinery

Missile raids have destroyed the Kremenchug oil refinery in the Odesa region, Russian and Ukrainian officials have said.

Dmytro Lunin, governor of Ukraine’s Poltava region, said on television that “the fire at the refinery has been extinguished but the facility has been completely destroyed and can no longer function.”

Russia’s defence ministry said that sea and air missiles destroyed an oil refinery and three fuel storages, Interfax reported.

The ministry said the facilities were used by Ukraine to supply its troops near the city of Mykolaiv.

Greek foreign minister to lead humanitarian aid mission in Odesa

Greece’s foreign minister Nikos Dendias is expected to land in Odesa to lead a humanitarian aid mission into the southern port city of Ukraine, the foreign ministry has said.

Dendias also plans to set up a continuous mechanism of distributing aid from Greece and to reopen the Greek consulate in the city, the foreign ministry added.

Evacuation efforts from Mariupol to continue: Official

Evacuation efforts from the besieged port city of Mariupol will continue on Sunday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

“Seven buses will try to get closer to Mariupol, accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Vereshchuk said in an online video posting.

Seventeen buses in total were preparing to evacuate people from Mariupol and Berdyansk, she added.

A man walks near a building damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol.
Evacuations are ongoing as Russia continues its siege of the southern port city of Mariupol [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Ukraine: Bodies, destroyed tanks line streets as Russia retreats

About 300 residents have been killed on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital during a monthlong occupation by the Russian army, authorities have said, with the streets littered with corpses.

Locals said the dead in Bucha were civilians killed by departing Russian soldiers without provocation. Anti-tank mines were scattered across a bridge in Bucha.

See the pictures here.

A boy looks at a destroyed Russian tank after recent battles in Bucha
A boy looks at a destroyed Russian tank after recent battles in Bucha, close to Kyiv [Oleksandr Ratushniak/AP]

Russian lawmakers seek to retaliate after sanctions

Russian lawmakers will propose measures seeking punishment for the implementation of sanctions on Russia’s territory, a senior lawmaker has said.

“My colleagues from the State Duma and I have finished the work and on Monday we will introduce amendments to the Criminal Code for the implementation of restrictive measures (sanctions) imposed by foreign states on the territory of the Russian Federation,” Andrei Klishas wrote on his Telegram channel.

“We look forward to prompt consideration of the amendments by the State Duma,” Klishas added, without specifying how Russia will identify or punish those who implemented sanctions.

Russia says draft agreement not ready for leaders’ meeting

Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky has said peace talks have not progressed enough for a leaders’ meeting, adding that work on a draft agreement would resume on Monday.

“The draft agreement is not ready for submission to a meeting at the top,” Medinsky said on Telegram, dismissing Ukrainian negotiator David Arahamiya’s “optimism.”

The chief negotiator added that a number of issues had been agreed upon during talks in Istanbul, including non-aligned and non-nuclear status of Ukraine, but that Crimea remained a contentious issue.

“Russia’s position on Crimea and Donbas remains UNCHANGED,” he said.

Missiles hit critical infrastructure facilities in Odesa: Official

Missiles have hit “critical infrastructure facilities” in Odesa, the regional administration spokesperson has said.

“We hope there will be no casualties,” Sergey Bratchuk told Ukraine’s public broadcaster.

A man stands with his dog as smoke rises after an attack by Russian army in Odesa.
Air raids rocked Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea port Odesa early Sunday morning [Bulent Kilic/AFP] (AFP)

Russia preventing Ukraine resupply by Black Sea: UK

The British ministry of defence has said Russian naval forces continue to blockade the Ukrainian coast on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, preventing resupply by sea.

Russia retains the capability to attempt an amphibious landing, but such an operation is likely to be increasingly risky due to the time Ukrainian forces have had to prepare, the ministry said on Twitter.

It added that the presence of mines within the Black Sea was “almost certainly the result of Russian naval activity in the area, demonstrating how its invasion of Ukraine is affecting neutral and civilian interests”.

Fires reported in Odesa after air raids

Air raids have rocked the strategic Black Sea port city of Odesa, with officials and journalists reporting fires in some areas.

“Odesa was attacked from the air,” Anton Herashchenko, adviser to the interior minister, wrote on his Telegram account. “Fires were reported in some areas. Some of the missiles were shot down by air defence.”

An AFP reporter heard explosions in the southwestern city at around 6:00 am (0300 GMT).

The blasts sent up at least three columns of black smoke with flames visible apparently in an industrial area.

A soldier near the site of one of the strikes said it was likely a rocket or a missile.

Explosions heard in Odesa: Reuters

The Reuters news agency says a series of explosions were heard and smoke was seen in Ukraine’s southern port city of Odesa in the early hours of Sunday.

There was no official information about the attack.

Lithuanian film director killed in Mariupol: Reports

Lithuanian film director Mantas Kvedaravicius has been killed in Ukraine’s Mariupol, where he had long documented the besieged port city, according to his colleague.

He died on Saturday, according to the Russian film director Vitaly Mansky, the founder of a festival of documentary movies Artdocfest.

In a Facebook post, Mansky wrote: “Our friend Artdocfest participant, Lithuanian documentary writer Mantas Kvedaravicius, was murdered today in Mariupol, with a camera in his hands, in this s****y war of evil, against the whole world.”

Zelenskyy slams Orban’s ‘lack of moral leadership’

Ukraine’s president has criticised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for what he called a lack of initiative or effort to end the Russian invasion of his country.

Orban is “virtually the only one in Europe to openly support” Russian President Vladimir Putin, Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

“We did not ask for anything special from Budapest. We didn’t even get what everyone else is doing! Doing for the sake of peace. We did not receive the vital transit of defence aid, we did not see moral leadership. We saw no effort to stop the war” he said.

Ukraine accuses Russia of killing several women and burning their bodies

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence says it found the naked bodies of “four to five” women on a highway 20km (12 miles) outside of Kyiv.

In a Twitter update, it posted a picture of a blanket-covered mound and said the Russian “barbarians” had tried to burn the bodies on the side of the road.

Al Jazeera could not verify the claim independently.

Intensity of Russian missile attacks has decreased: Ukraine army

The general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces says the intensity of Russian air and missile strikes “has decreased” as Moscow continues to withdraw units through the north of Ukraine.

In a Facebook post, the general staff also said retreating Russian forces were deploying mines on roads and in some settlements.

Russia aiming to seize southeastern Ukraine: Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s president says Russian forces are aiming to seize regions in the east and south of the country.

“We are strengthening our defences in the eastern direction and in Donbas. We are aware that the enemy has reserves to increase pressure in the east,” Zelenskyy said in his late-night video address.

“What is the goal of Russian troops? They want to capture both Donbas and the south of Ukraine. What is our goal? Protect us, our freedom, our land and our people.”

The Ukrainian president went on to complain that Western nations had not provided Kyiv with enough anti-missile systems, and also praised forces defending besieged Mariupol, saying their resistance was allowing other cities to gain valuable time.

People hold portraits of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, during an anti-war rally in front of the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw
People hold portraits of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin, centre, during an anti-war rally in front of the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, April 2, 2022. [Czarek Sokolowski/ AP]

Russia increasing air activity in southeastern Ukraine: UK

The British Ministry of Defence says there has been a “concentration of Russian air activity in southeastern Ukraine” over the past week.

This is likely a result of Russia focusing its military operations in that area, the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

It added that Ukraine continues to provide a significant challenge to Russian air and missile operations despite Russian efforts to diminish Ukrainian air defence capabilities.

“Russia’s inability to find and destroy air defence systems has seriously hampered their efforts to gain broad control of the air, which in turn has significantly affected their ability to support the advance of their ground forces on a number of fronts.”

UK could build up to seven nuclear plants

The United Kingdom could build up to seven new nuclear power stations as part of a radical expansion of homegrown energy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told The Sunday Telegraph.

“There is a world where we have six or seven sites in the UK” by 2050, Kwarteng told the newspaper.

The Sunday Telegraph said ministers have agreed to set up a new development vehicle, called Great British Nuclear, to identify sites, cut through red tape to speed up the planning process, and bring together private firms to run each site.

It said Britain’s new energy security strategy, set to be unveiled on Thursday, is expected to commit the government to supporting the construction of at least two new large-scale nuclear plants by 2030 in addition to small modular reactors.

765 people evacuate Mariupol: Official

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, says 765 residents managed to make it out of Mariupol in private vehicles on Saturday while a team of humanitarian workers has yet to reach the hard-hit city.

Vereshchuk said the residents reached Zaporizhzhia, a city 140 miles (226km) to the northwest.

Poland issues 625,000 IDs to Ukrainian refugees

Poland’s government has issued more than 625,000 national identification numbers to Ukrainian refugees since Russia launched its invasion, according to deputy interior minister Pawel Szefernaker.

The ID number, known as a PESEL, gives people the right to access healthcare, schooling or other state services.

Poland, the country that has accepted the largest numbers of Ukrainian refugees, decided recently to extend those rights to Ukrainians fleeing war.

More than four million Ukrainians have so far fled, and more than 2.4 million of them have crossed into Poland. Others have fled into Romania, Moldova, Slovakia and Hungary.

UK collecting evidence of Russian war crimes

The United Kingdom is working with others to collect evidence of Russian war crimes, British foreign secretary Liz Truss wrote on Twitter.

Truss said she was “appalled by atrocities in Bucha and other towns in Ukraine. Reports of Russian forces targeting innocent civilians are abhorrent.”

Red Cross says efforts to evacuate people from Mariupol are continuing

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said its efforts to evacuate people from the besieged city of Mariupol are continuing, hours after Russia said it had failed and blamed the organisation.

“The humanitarian operation to facilitate the safe passage of civilians out of Mariupol is ongoing. The situation on the ground is volatile and subject to rapid changes,” an ICRC spokesperson told Reuters news agency by email.

Russia’s defence ministry said aid convoys had not been able to reach Mariupol on Friday or Saturday due to “destructive actions” by the ICRC such as unplanned stops, Interfax news agency said.

Baltic states stop Russian gas imports

The head of Latvia’s natural gas storage operator has said Baltic states are no longer importing Russian natural gas.

“If there were still any doubts about whether there may be any trust in deliveries from Russia, current events clearly show us that there is no more trust,” said Uldis Bariss, CEO of Conexus Baltic Grid.

“Since April 1 Russian natural gas is no longer flowing to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania,” he told Latvian radio. He added that the Baltic market was currently being served by gas reserves stored underground in Latvia.

Russia uses war crimes as ‘method of warfare’: Lawyer

Russia is committing “systematic” war crimes in Ukraine, including by deliberating targeting civilian populations and infrastructure, a Ukrainian human rights lawyer has told Al Jazeera.

Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of the Centre for Civil Liberties, said her organisation is working with hundreds of volunteers who are gathering testimonies from witnesses of war crimes that can be presented to the International Criminal Court, as well as to other international bodies and states who want to use universal jurisdiction to charge perpetrators.

“We can see that these war crimes have a systematic and large-scale character, and Russian troops do not make a distinction between military and civilian populations,” she said, speaking from Kyiv. “Russia uses war crimes as a method of warfare.”

Russian group says 208 anti-war protesters arrested

A Russian group that monitors political arrests says 208 people have been arrested in demonstrations across the country on Saturday protesting against Russia’s war 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 were detained in Moscow and a similar number in Saint Petersburg, the organisation said.

Russia ‘verbally’ agreed to Ukraine proposals: Negotiator

Ukraine’s top negotiator in peace talks with Russia said that Moscow had “verbally” agreed to key Ukrainian proposals, raising hopes that talks to end fighting are moving forward.

Negotiator David Arakhamia told Ukrainian television channels that any meeting between Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin would “with a high probability” take place in Turkey.

“The Russian Federation has given an official answer to all positions, which is that they accept the (Ukrainian) position, except for the issue of Crimea [annexed by Russia in 2014],” Arakhamia said.

Russia and Ukraine have held several rounds of negotiations, both in Turkey and by video conference.

Almost 300 buried in mass grave in Bucha, near Kyiv: Mayor

Almost 300 people have been buried in a mass grave in Bucha, discovered after the Ukrainian army retook control of the key town close to Kyiv.

Anatoly Fedoruk told Al Jazeera that the town’s streets remain littered with the bodies of at least 22 people killed by Russian forces. He said it had not been possible to collect the bodies yet, amid fears that Russian forces had booby-trapped the corpses.

“According to the mayor, [the dead people] were trying to escape to Ukrainian-held territory when, according to him, they were simply gunned down,” said Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from Lviv in western Ukraine.

Read more here.

Ukraine says regained control of ‘whole Kyiv region’

Ukraine has regained control of “the whole Kyiv region” after Russian forces retreated from key towns near the Ukrainian capital, Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Maliar said.

“Irpin, Bucha, Gostomel and the whole Kyiv region were liberated from the invader,” Maliar said on Facebook.

All three towns lie northwest of Kyiv and have suffered heavy destruction since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Ukraine presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said its troops have retaken more than 30 towns and villages since Russia pulled back from the area this week.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Saturday, April 2 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies