Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he will meet with US top officials on Sunday in Kiev as fierce fighting continues in the eastern and southern parts of the country over Ukraine’s Easter weekend.
The White House has not yet confirmed the visit, which Zelensky said would include U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
When a new day breaks into the capital, here’s what you need to know.
Expected visit: Zelensky said he “expected specific items and specific weapons” from world leaders visiting the country after announcing he would meet with Blinken and Austin in Kiev on Sunday. The potential visit would be the first from top U.S. officials since the war broke out. The White House declined to comment on the potential trip.
Odesa toll: At least eight people have been killed, including a three-month-old baby, after Russian missile strikes on the southwestern port city of Odesa, Zelensky said Saturday, condemning the attack, which took place a day before many Ukrainians were celebrating Easter holidays.
Humanitarian crisis: An evacuation corridor from the besieged southern city of Mariupol was “thwarted” by Russian forces on Saturday, according to a Ukrainian official. Ukrainian officials have said more than 100,000 people are still left in the bombed-out city that the Russian government claims to control. Ukrainian fighters continue to persevere in the city’s massive Azovstal steelworks, where civilians have been sheltered for weeks and supplies are running out.
Moscow plan: Russia revealed that the goal of its invasion is to take “full control” of southern Ukraine as well as the eastern Donbas region and to establish a land corridor connecting Russia with Crimea, the peninsula, which it annexed in 2014. A briefing from the British Defense Department on Saturday said Russian forces had not made any major progress in the last 24 hours in the face of Ukrainian counterattacks.
Compulsory deportations: Ukrainian officials claimed on Saturday that Russia forcibly deported some Mariupol citizens to Primorsky Krai in Russia’s Far East region, about 8,000 kilometers (4,970 miles) from Ukraine. In early April, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk estimated that some 45,000 Ukrainian citizens had been forcibly deported to Russia since the war began.
Civil conscription: The Ukrainian intelligence service has also accused Russia of planning to summon Ukrainian civilians from the occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, according to a Saturday update from the British military intelligence service. This would be contrary to international law, the British Ministry of Defense said.