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Live updates: Report says Italy to reopen embassy in Kyiv

What’s happening in Ukraine on Thursday and how are countries around the world responding? Read live updates on Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

MILAN — Italy’s foreign minister has reportedly told staff that Italy will reopen its embassy in the Ukrainian capital after Easter.

News agency ANSA quoted Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on Saturday as telling his ministry’s crisis unit that Italy “will be among the first to return” to Kyiv.

He called it “another gesture to demonstrate support for the Ukrainian population, a concrete way to affirm that diplomacy must prevail.”

Di Maio said the return would be coordinated with other European Union nations.

The EU itself announced the return of its ambassador on Friday. On Saturday, EU ambassador Matti Maasikas tweeted a picture of an EU flag atop a flagpole with the words “First things first.”

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KYIV, Ukraine – Austria’s leader says he expects more European Union sanctions against Russia but is defending his country’s opposition so far to cutting off deliveries of Russian gas.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer spoke Saturday after becoming the latest of several European leaders to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

Nehammer said at a news conference that “we will continue to ratchet up sanctions inside the European Union until the war stops” and that a package of sanctions imposed this week “won’t be the last one.” He acknowledged that “as long as people are dying, every sanction is still insufficient.”

Austria, which gets most of its gas from Russia, is one of the countries that have been resisting a halt to deliveries. Questioned about that Saturday, Nehammer said that EU sanctions are becoming increasingly “accurate” but that “sanctions are effective when they hit those they are directed against, and don’t weaken those imposing sanctions against the one who is conducting war.”

Austria is militarily neutral and not a member of NATO.

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LONDON — Britain’s Ministry of Defence says Russian naval forces are launching cruise missiles into Ukraine to support military operations in the eastern Donbas region and around the cities of Mariupol and Mykolaiv.

In its Saturday morning briefing, the ministry said Russia’s air forces are expected to increase activity in the south and east of Ukraine to further support these operations.

The ministry said these actions come as attempts to establish a land corridor between Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and Russian-controlled parts of the Donbas region “continue to be thwarted by Ukrainian resistance.”

U.K. officials also say Russia is continuing to attack non-combatants, such as those killed at the Kramatorsk railway station in a rocket strike on Friday.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s railway operator says operations are halted at the train station in Kramatorsk, which was damaged in a missile strike Friday, but evacuations of civilians will continue through other stations in eastern Ukraine.

The company said Saturday that evacutions will continue from the stations in Slovyansk and Pokrovsk in the Donetsk region and Novozolotarivka in the Luhansk region.

The statement on the messaging app Telegram said that “the railways do not stop the task of taking everyone to safety.”

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ten humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuations are to open in Ukraine’s east on Saturday, according to Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk. The corridors will allow residents to leave a number cities in the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.

Those in Mariupol, Enerhodar, Tokmak, Berdyansk and Melitopol will be able to evacuate to the city of Zaporizhzhia, while those in Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna, Girske and Rubizhne can evacuate to the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region.

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WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country’s security service has intercepted communications of Russian troops that provide evidence of war crimes.

“There are soldiers talking with their parents about what they stole and who they abducted. There are recordings of prisoners of war who admitted killing people,” Zelenskyy said in an excerpt of an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Friday.

“There are pilots in prison who had maps with civilian targets to bomb. There are also investigations being conducted based on the remains of the dead,” he said in a translation provided by CBS.

Zelenskyy said “everyone who made a decision, who issued an order, who fulfilled an order” is guilty of a war crime. Asked whether he held Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible, he said: “I do believe that he’s one of them.”

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LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the missile strike on an eastern train station as another Russian war crime and said Ukraine expects a tough global response.

“Like the massacres in Bucha, like many other Russian war crimes, the missile attack on Kramatorsk should be one of the charges at the tribunal that must be held,” he said during his nightly video address to the nation Friday.

The president told Ukrainians that great efforts would be taken “to establish every minute of who did what,” so that those behind the attack would be held responsible.

Zelenskyy said he spoke with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen Friday and urged the EU to impose a full embargo on Russian oil and gas.

“It is energy exports that provide the lion’s share of Russia’s income and allow the Russian leadership to believe in their impunity,” Zelenskyy said.

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WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. defense official says the Pentagon has determined that some of the Russian combat units that retreated from the Kyiv area in recent days are so heavily damaged and depleted that their combat utility is in question.

The official described these units as “for all intents and purposes eradicated,” with only a small number of functioning troops and weapons remaining. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal U.S. military assessments, did not say how many units sustained such extensive damage.

The official said some combat units that withdrew from the Kyiv area are beginning to move toward the Russian towns of Belgorod and Valuyki for refitting and resupplying before likely deploying to the Donbas region of Ukraine. The official also said the U.S. has seen thousands of additional Russian troops added to the combat force that Moscow has been using in and around the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

The official says that the U.S. believes Russia has lost 15 to 20 percent of the combat power it had assembled along Ukraine’s borders before launching its invasion Feb. 24.

—Reporting by Robert Burns.

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s chief spokesperson on Friday called the Russian missile attack on a train station in eastern Ukraine “another horrific atrocity” by Russian forces but stopped short of calling the action a war crime.

“Where we are now is we’re going to support efforts to investigate the attack as we document Russia’s actions, hold them accountable,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

Biden has already accused Russian forces of committing war crimes outside of Kyiv, including in the town of Bucha.

Psaki added that “the targeting of civilians would certainly be a war crime” and that the U.S. would support “efforts to investigate exactly what happened.”

At least 52 people were killed in the attack and about 4,000 civilians were in and around the station at the time of the strike, according to the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor-general said. Most were women and children heeding calls to leave the area before Russia is anticipated to launch a full-scale offensive in the country’s east.

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BUCHA, Ukraine — The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office says approximately 67 bodies were buried in a mass grave near a church in Bucha, a northern Kyiv suburb where journalists and returning Ukrainians discovered scores of bodies on streets and elsewhere after Russian troops withdrew.

Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said Friday that 18 bodies had been located so far, 16 with bullet wounds and two with bullet and shrapnel wounds. Two were women and the rest were men, she said.

“This means that they killed civilians, shot them,” Venediktova said, speaking as workers pulled corpses out under spitting rain. Black body bags were laid in rows in the mud.

The prosecutor general’s office is investigating the deaths, and other mass casualties involving civilians, as possible war crimes. Venediktova said the European Union is involved in the investigation and “we are coordinating our actions.”



Reference-www.ctvnews.ca

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