UN sending top official to Moscow to seek humanitarian ceasefire

  • The Red Cross has said it will again attempt to evacuate Ukrainian civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol, after a convoy had to turn back on Friday.
  • More than 6,200 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Friday, a senior official says.
  • The UN’s humanitarian chief will travel to Moscow on Sunday and then to Kyiv to discuss ceasefire efforts, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.
  • The US says it is providing Ukraine with supplies to respond to a potential Russian chemical attack.
  • Dozens of Ukrainian cultural sites have been damaged in the war, UNESCO says.
(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

Russian troops in northern Ukraine withdrawing slowly but noticeably: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russian troops in the north of the country are pulling back slowly but noticeably.

In a video address, he said the military situation in Ukraine’s east remained extremely difficult and warned that Russia was preparing for new attacks in the Donbas region and on the city of Kharkiv.


Brittney Griner’s teammates break silence amid Russia detention

Brittney Griner’s teammates have broken their silence amid the US basketball player’s continued detention in Russia, saying they are hopeful that everything is being done to get her home safely.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, has been detained in Russia since mid-February on charges of carrying vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil in her luggage.

“We’re not talking about BG the basketball player, we’re talking about BG the wife, the daughter, the sister, the human being,” A’ja Wilson, the 2020 WNBA most valuable player and Griner’s teammate on the US national team, said.

Read more here.

Brittney Griner
Griner has been detained in Russia since mid-February on charges of carrying vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil in her luggage [File: Brian Snyder/Reuters]

Buses carrying Mariupol residents arrive in Zaporizhzhia

A column of buses carrying escaped residents of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol has arrived in Zaporizhzhia to the northwest, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.

The buses carried people who had been able to flee Mariupol to Russian-occupied Berdiansk and from there were bussed to Zaporizhzhia, more than 200km (120 miles) northwest of the besieged city, the evacuees and officials said.

“I am just crying. I just saw my granddaughter,” said Olga, who was waiting for family members at a registration centre for displaced people in Zaporizhzhia. “Her mother’s family are still in Mariupol and we don’t know if they are alive,” she added.


Damage in Belgorod likely to strain Russian logistics chains, UK says

British military intelligence has said the destruction of several oil tanks at a depot in the Russian city of Belgorod, close to the Ukrainian border, will likely add short-term strain to Russia’s already stretched logistics chains.

“The probable loss of fuel and ammunition supplies from these depots will likely add additional short-term strain to Russia’s already stretched logistic chains,” the UK’s Ministry of Defence said on Twitter. “Supplies to Russian forces encircling Kharkhiv [60km or 37 miles from Belgorod] may be particularly affected.”


Ukraine says it carried out prisoner exchange with Russia

Ukraine and Russia have carried out a prisoner exchange, leading to the release of 86 Ukrainian servicemembers, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, has said.

In an online post, Tymoshenko did not reveal how many Russian soldiers were swapped, but he said the deal was a result of continuing peace negotiations.


UN sending top official to Moscow to seek ‘humanitarian ceasefire’

A top United Nations official will visit Moscow this weekend to try to secure a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Ukraine, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, will fly to Moscow on Sunday and then on to Kyiv.

Guterres said that the visit shows “that we don’t give up on the perspective of stopping the fighting, in Yemen, in Ukraine, everywhere in the world”.


White House declines to say whether US would back Ukrainian attacks on Russia

The White House has declined to say whether the US would back Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil after Moscow accused Kyiv of being behind an air raid on a fuel depot in the Russian city of Belgorod. Ukraine has denied responsibility for the attack.

Asked by reporters whether the US would support such attacks in the future, the White House’s Psaki said, “I’m not going to get into a future hypothetical. What I would just reiterate again is that this is a war of aggression by the Russian leadership, by President Putin.”


US providing Ukraine with supplies to respond to possible chemical attack

The United States is providing Ukraine with a “range of materials and equipment” to respond to a possible Russian chemical weapons attack, the White House has said.

“In an effort to assist our Ukrainian partners, the US government is providing the government of Ukraine life-saving equipment and supplies that could be deployed in the event of Russian use of a chemical and biological weapon,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

US officials have previously warned Russia against using chemical weapons in Ukraine, dismissing Moscow’s allegations that Kyiv was developing a biological weapons programme with US assistance.


Situation in besieged city of Mariupol ‘dire’: AJE correspondent

Tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians trapped in the besieged port city of Mariupol are facing a “dire” situation as fighting rages, Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan has said, with many living underground to escape the shelling.

A Red Cross convoy travelling to Mariupol turned around because it had become impossible to proceed with its mission to begin evacuating civilians on Friday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said. The convoy will try again on Saturday, it said.

The port city has been under bombardment by Russian forces for weeks, and the mayor says up to 170,000 people are trapped without power and with limited access to food and other supplies.

“The situation is absolutely dire,” said Khan.


Efforts afoot to evade sanctions on Russian assets, US official says

The head of a US task force working to enforce sanctions against wealthy Russians and other targets has said he has seen evidence of efforts to evade those curbs.

Andrew Adams, who heads the US Department of Justice’s so-called “KleptoCapture” team, told the Reuters news agency that international cooperation on investigations into Russian assets had reached an “all-time high” amid the war in Ukraine.

However, he said, “There are efforts afoot – some of them publicly reported – to move, for example, moveable property in the forms of yachts, aeroplanes … into jurisdictions where, I think, people have the perception that it would be more difficult to investigate and more difficult to freeze.”


More than 6,200 people evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Friday: Official

A senior Ukrainian official has said 6,266 people were evacuated from cities through humanitarian corridors on Friday.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said in an online post that 3,071 of those evacuees had left the besieged city of Mariupol, which has been under Russian bombardment for weeks.


Russia recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine: Analysts

Analysts say Moscow has been recruiting Syrian fighters to join its offensive in Ukraine, using its mercenary network and local groups.

Thousands across the war-torn country have reportedly expressed an interest in signing up.

Read more here about Russia’s effort.


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

Read all the updates from Friday, April 1 here.

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