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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Pope Francis renews call for a truce as Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter Sunday

Pope Francis has renewed his call for an Easter truce as Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter Sunday, when the faithful mark the resurrection of Jesus.

Without naming countries, Francis urged aggressors to “stop the attack to help the suffering of the exhausted people.”

Francis told a crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City that two months had passed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said that “instead of stopping, the war got worse. It is sad that in these days that are the holiest and most solemn for all Christians, the deadly clamor of arms is louder than the sound of bells announcing the Resurrection.”

—Associated Press

Swiss reject Germany’s arms export request

Switzerland has rejected two requests by Germany to export Swiss ammunition to Ukraine, citing the Alpine nation’s strict neutrality.

The decision was first reported by Swiss weekly Sonntagszeitung.

Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs confirmed that “both requests from Germany, whether the ammunition received from Switzerland can be passed on to Ukraine, were answered negatively with a reference to Swiss neutrality.”

Germany needs Switzerland’s consent for the arms delivery as part of the original sale contract. The Swiss office declined to specify what type of ammunition Germany had sought to export to Ukraine.

Associated Press

Erdogan tells Zelenskyy that Turkey is ready to assist in negotiations

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a joint news conference with Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani (not pictured) in Ankara, Turkey March 1, 2022.

Presidential Press Office | Reuters

Turkey is ready to give all possible assistance during the negotiation process between Ukraine and Russia, President Tayyip Erdogan told Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a telephone call, the Turkish presidency said.

Erdogan said the evacuation of the wounded and civilians in Ukraine’s Mariupol must be ensured, adding that Turkey viewed the guarantor issue positively in principle. Ukraine has sought security guarantees from various countries during talks.

Reuters

Moscow says it struck arms depots in Kharkiv region, report says

Russia’s defense ministry said its missiles struck nine Ukrainian targets overnight, according to Reuters, which includes four arms depots in the Kharkiv region where weapons were being stored.

Moscow said it had destroyed a further four arms depots in the same region and hit a facility in the Dnipropetrovsk region, the news agency reported.

—Matt Clinch

Russia continuously shelling Mariupol, Ukraine presidential advisor says

Mykhailo Podolyak, a presidential advisor in Ukraine, says Russia continues to shell the besieged city of Mariupol and has called for a “real Easter truce.”

“Russia is continuously attacking the Mariupol Azovstal. The place where our civilians and military are located, is shelled with heavy air bombs and artillery,” Podolyak said on Twitter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week ordered his military to ditch a plan to storm the Azovstal steel plant, where several thousand Ukrainian troops, as well as civilians, are encamped, opting instead to continue to seal off the facility via blockade.

Matt Clinch

UK intelligence says Ukraine has repelled Russian attacks in the east

Ukrainian soldiers stand on their armored personnel carrier (APC).

Anatolii Stepanov | Afp | Getty Images

The U.K.’s Ministry of Defence has given a weekly update on how things stand in the war in Ukraine after Russia entered a new phase and concentrated its attacks largely on the Donbas region in the east of the country.

In a series of tweets Sunday, the ministry said that Ukraine had repelled numerous Russian assaults along the line of contact, and had inflicted “significant cost” on Russian forces.

It also noted that “poor Russian morale and limited time to reconstitute, re-equip and reorganise forces from prior offensives” are likely hindering Moscow’s combat effectiveness.

—Matt Clinch

UN chief to head to Turkey before meeting Putin and Zelenskyy

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be going to Turkey to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before heading to Moscow to see President Vladimir Putin, followed by a visit to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images News | Getty Images

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Turkey on Monday, before heading to Moscow and Kyiv, the United Nations said.

“We need urgent steps to save lives, end the human suffering and bring about peace in Ukraine,” the UN chief said in a tweet on Saturday.

Turkey has been a key mediator between Russia and Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the UN chief will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

He will then visit the embattled Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will see him.

Guterres will also be visiting UN staff on the ground to talk about how to increase humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine.

Joanna Tan

Pictures of Ukrainians in Lviv celebrating Easter food basket blessing

Dozens of Ukrainians attending the Holy Saturday traditional food basket blessing ceremony in Greek-Catholic church in Nadyby, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine on April 23, 2022.

Dominika Zarzycka | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter Sunday on April 24. A day before, internally displaced Ukrainians are seen gathering at the Greek-Catholic church in Nadyby, Lviv to celebrate the traditional Easter food basket blessing on Saturday.

Many have fled from their homes and are taking temporary shelter at the church.

Many have been internally displaced and are taking temporary shelter at the Greek Catholic church in Nadyby, Lviv. Seen here is a young Ukrainian girl from Donetsk skipping along with her Easter food basket in front of the church.

Dominika Zarzycka | Nurphoto | Getty Images

The UN’s migration agency says that one in six people in Ukraine have been internally displaced.

In its latest report, the International Organization for Migration said more than 7.7 million people in Ukraine have been internally displaced since the war started in late February — that’s some 17% of the country’s population.

“Women and children, the elderly, and people with disabilities have been disproportionately affected as they all represent a highly vulnerable group of people,” said Antonio Vitorino, director general of the agency.

The city of Lviv in western Ukraine has largely escaped from the worst of Russia’s invasion though it has not been completely spared.

An internally displaced Ukrainian family from Donetsk at a shelter provided by the Greek Catholic church in Nadyby, Lviv. The city in western Ukraine has largely escaped from the worst of Russia’s invasion though it has not been completely spared.

Dominika Zarzycka | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Easter decorations with a note “Slava Ukrain,” which means “Glory to Ukraine” is seen at the shelter.

Dominika Zarzycka | Nurphoto | Getty Images

“Women and children, the elderly, and people with disabilities have been disproportionately affected as they all represent a highly vulnerable group of people,” said Antonio Vitorino, director general of the UM’s International Organization for Migration.

Dominika Zarzycka | Nurphoto | Getty Images

The UN’s International Organization for Migration said that as of April 17, 2022 more than 7.7 million people in Ukraine have been internally displaced since the start of the war.

Dominika Zarzycka | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ukraine says Moscow plans to conscript civilians in Russian occupied territories: UK intelligence

Experts of a State Emergency Service bomb squad work to dispose of the dangerous remains of an Uragan rocket on the pasture, Hryhorivka, Zaporizhzhia Region, southeastern Ukraine. Ukraine has accused Russia of plans to conscript Ukrainian civilian in the occupied region of Zaporizhzhia, a move the UK defense ministry says is a violation of Article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Dmytro Smolyenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ukraine has accused Moscow of planning to conscript Ukrainian civilians from the Russian-occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, according to the latest U.K. intelligence.

Moscow previously did the same in the Russian-occupied Donbas and Crimea, according to the report by the U.K. Defense Ministry. If true, it will be a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

“Any enlistment of Ukrainian civilians into the Russian armed forces, even if presented by Russia as being voluntary or military service in accordance with Russian law, would constitute a violation of Article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the U.K. said in a tweet.

The article states that “the Occupying Power may not compel protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces,” and “no pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment is permitted.”

Joanna Tan

Zelenskyy says Austin, Blinken will visit Ukraine on Sunday

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin (R) listen while US President Joe Biden speaks with the Polish President during a meeting on Russia’s war on Ukraine at the presidential palace in Warsaw on March 26, 2022.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will visit Ukraine on April 24 to discuss military aid, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters in Kyiv. It would mark the first time high-ranking U.S. officials have visited the nation’s capital since the war began.

The Pentagon will not speak to the claim from Zelenskyy, according to two defense officials. The White House and the State Department had no comment.

Zelenskyy also reiterated calls for President Joe Biden to visit Ukraine. “We will also wait for security to allow the U.S. president to come and support the Ukrainian people,” Zelenskyy said, according to a rough transcript of the news conference.

Top officials from other nations, including the U.K.’s Boris Johnson, have traveled to Ukraine to show support for Zelenskyy. The U.S. had reportedly been considering sending a top U.S. official to Ukraine in recent days.

—Jessica Bursztynsky

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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