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Zelenskyy accuses Russia of genocide; missiles slam into port city of Odesa. Follow our live updates – CNBC

Ukraine foreign minister: Russia’s war crimes make it ‘worse than ISIS’

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, pictured here at the Ukrainian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, called Russia “worse than ISIS” after apparent evidence emerged of civilian atrocities near Kyiv.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Ukraine minister of foreign affairs Dmytro Kuleba said in a video on Sunday that “Russia is worse than ISIS,” referring to the Islamic extremist group.

“In its atrocities, in its crimes — both the scale of these crimes and the ruthlessness of the behavior of the Russian army in Ukraine,” Kuleba said in a video on Twitter.

“I don’t know where these soldiers were educated — what kind of values they have, if any,” Kuleba added. “It’s unspeakable.

“Rapes, tortures, murders — of civilians.”

He noted that Ukraine has begun work to prosecute “everyone involved in these crimes.”

Kuleba also said that he is “trying to prepare myself for images and videos which will come from Mariupol when we liberate it.”

“Probably they will be even more devastating,” Kuleba said.

Michael Sheetz

Scholz says West to agree more sanctions on Russia in coming days

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz gives a press statement about the war crimes discovered the day before in Bucha, Ukraine, at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany April 3, 2022. 

Hannibal Hanschke | Reuters

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday Western allies would agree further sanctions on Russia in the coming days over its invasion of Ukraine and the “atrocities” committed by Russian troops in a town near Kyiv.

Russian President Vladimir “Putin and his supporters will feel the consequences” of their actions, he said, in a statement to reporters in the chancellery. “And we will continue to make weapons available to Ukraine so the country can defend itself against the Russian invasion.”


Civilians take shelter from Russian artillery in Kharkiv

Civilians are seen taking shelter from Russian artillery in the Kharkiv area of Ukraine.

Civilians are seen taking shelter from Russian artillery in the Kharkiv area of Ukraine on April 3, 2022.

Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Civilians are seen taking shelter from Russian artillery in the Kharkiv area of Ukraine on April 3, 2022.

Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Civilians are seen taking shelter from Russian artillery in the Kharkiv area of Ukraine on April 3, 2022.

Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Civilians are seen taking shelter from Russian artillery in the Kharkiv area of Ukraine on April 3, 2022.

Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Civilians are seen taking shelter from Russian artillery in the Kharkiv area of Ukraine on April 3, 2022.

Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Getty Images

U.S. to send more aid as Moldova embraces Ukraine war refugees

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield makes a statement at a stakeout at the Security Council at UN Headquarters. Meeting was convened at the request of the Russian Federation who accused Ukraine of developing biological weapons under the tutelage of the United States without providing any evidence.

Lev Radin | Lightrocket | Getty Images

The United States will give Moldova $50 million to help it cope with the impacts of Russia’s war against Ukraine, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said during a visit to the former Soviet republic on Sunday.

She said the funding would support programs, training and equipment for border management, efforts to counter human trafficking, help to improve accountability and transparency in the justice sector, and combat corruption and cybercrime.

Nearly 400,000 refugees have already fled Ukraine through Moldova, with about a quarter remaining in the country, since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Moscow says it is carrying out a “special military operation” that aims to destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure.

The money pledged to Moldova by the United States on Sunday comes on top of $30 million announced last month to assist refugee relief efforts in Moldova over the next six months.

Moldova, sandwiched between Ukraine and European Union member Romania, is one of Europe’s poorest countries and has 2.6 million people. Like Ukraine it aspires to join the EU.

— Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State responds to claims of ‘genocide’ in Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses the Media after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (unseen), at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, on March 27, 2022.

Jacquelyn Martin | AFP | Getty Images

America’s top diplomat on Sunday stopped short of agreeing with those who claim Russia is committing genocide against Ukrainian civilians during its invasion.

“We will look hard and document everything that we see, put it all together, and make sure the relevant institutions and organizations that are looking at this, including the State Department, have everything they need to asses exactly what took place in Ukraine, who is responsible and what it amounts to,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

In a CBS interview that aired Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed the Russian military is committing “genocide” against Ukrainian people.

The U.S. government has formally accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. That’s one of four main crimes over which the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction. Genocide, crime against humanity and crime of aggression are the other three.

However, the U.S. is not a member of the ICC, which defines genocide as “the specific intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group by killing its members or by other means.”

Kevin Stankiewicz

EU must discuss import ban on Russian gas, German defense minister says

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht speaks with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, January 26, 2022.

Michele Tantussi | Reuters

Germany’s defense minister said on Sunday that the European Union must discuss banning the import of Russian gas after Ukrainian and European officials accused Russian forces of committing atrocities near Kyiv.

“There has to be a response. Such crimes must not remain unanswered,” the defense ministry quoted Christine Lambrecht as saying in an interview with the public broadcaster ARD.

Berlin has so far resisted growing calls to impose an embargo on energy imports from Russia, saying its economy and that of other European countries are too dependent on them. Russia supplies 40% of Europe’s gas needs.

But Lambrecht said EU ministers would now have to discuss a ban, according to a tweet from her ministry.


Boris Johnson says Putin and his troops ‘are committing war crimes’

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022.

Thomas Coex | AFP | Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said graphic reports coming out of Bucha and Irpin are “more evidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his forces “are committing war crimes in Ukraine.”

“I will do everything in my power to starve Putin’s war machine,” Johnson said in a statement. “We are stepping up our sanctions and military support, as well as bolstering our humanitarian support package to help those in need on the ground.”

Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of executing civilians prior to their retreat of areas surrounding the capital of Kyiv. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry posted a video early Sunday that showed bodies in civilian clothing on the side of the road, accusing Russian forces of executing the residents.

Earlier in the day, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called for the attacks to be investigated as war crimes, adding the U.K. would support any investigations by the International Criminal Court.

Russia has denied committing the atrocities, according to The New York Times.

“No denial or disinformation from the Kremlin can hide what we all know to be the truth – Putin is desperate, his invasion is failing, and Ukraine’s resolve has never been stronger,” Johnson said in a statement.

—Jessica Bursztynsky

Zelenskyy says U.S. has not yet offered Ukraine security guarantees

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends an interview with some of the Russian media via videolink, as Russia?s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 27, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

The U.S. has not provided Ukraine an official security guarantee, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

In an interview that aired Sunday, Zelenskyy said he was grateful for the support Washington has offered Ukraine to date to assist the country in defending against Russia’s invasion. The U.S. has provided Ukraine more than $1 billion in security assistance, which includes more than 1,000 Stinger anti-aircraft systems and other military equipment like ammunition and body armor.

“But nevertheless, the United States have not provided the security guarantees to us,” Zelenskyy said, according to a full CBS transcript.

Ukrainian officials have recently focused on the concept of security guarantees in their diplomatic peace talks with Russia. According to Reuters, Ukraine has said it would be willing to adopt neutral status if it’s able to enter agreements with a group of countries that pledge to militarily defend Ukraine if Ukraine is attacked in the future.

Zelenskyy described the security guarantees as “an enforceable document,” not just a “piece of paper.” He suggested that receiving such commitments from allies are critical for peace discussions with Russia to advance because so far, sanctions have yet to deter Russian aggression.

“We don’t believe in papers any longer. So we are very grateful for the support of the United States,” Zelenskyy said. “It’s a very powerful support. But in terms of security guarantees, we have not received them yet from anyone, and we have to get them.”

Kevin Stankiewicz

At least 1,417 civilians killed in Ukraine, UN says

Local resident Pavel, 42, stands next to the grave of his friend Igor, who was killed by shelling while they were riding together in a car during Ukraine-Russia conflict, in a residential area in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 30, 2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

At least 1,417 civilians, including 121 children, have been killed since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

An additional 2,038 have been injured, including 171 children, from Feb. 24 to April 2, it added.

The agency expects the actual figures to be “considerably higher.” It’s been difficult for officials to determine the extent of injuries and deaths in areas with heavy fighting or that have been taken over by Russian forces.

The bulk of the injuries have been caused by the use of explosive weapons with a “wide impact area,” such as shelling from heavy artillery and missile and air strikes, the agency said.

—Jessica Bursztynsky

The war is exacerbating supply-chain disruptions that have sent U.S. auto prices sky-high

View of a used car dealership in Ridgewood, Queens New York on January 19, 2022. Inflation spiked to its highest level in four decades, sending consumer prices soaring 7 percent for the year ended.

Pablo Monsalve | Corbis News | Getty Images

Russia’s war against Ukraine has thrown up a new obstacle to the global auto industry’s attempts to recover from a Covid-related global shortage of semiconductor chips and other key parts – and the result is likely to keep prices of new and used vehicles sky-high for a while longer, The Associated Press reports.

Ukraine is a key supplier of automotive wiring harnesses to automakers, particularly European automakers including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen – or at least it was before the invasion. Now, the Associated Press is reporting that automakers find themselves scrambling to replace the Ukrainian production – further hampering their efforts to restore full production and ease the new-car supply crunch that has driven auto prices sharply higher since the beginning of the pandemic.

The average price of a new vehicle in the U.S. is up 13% in the past year, to $45,596, according to an Edmunds.com report cited by The Associated Press. Average used prices have surged far more: They’re up 29% to $29,646 as of February.

Before the war, S&P Global had predicted that global automakers would build 84 million vehicles this year and 91 million next year. Now it’s forecasting fewer than 82 million in 2022 and 88 million next year, according to the AP.

— John Rosevear

European leaders call on Russia to pay for ‘war crimes’ in Bucha

EDITORS NOTE: Image contains graphic content

European leaders are calling for Russia to be held accountable amid allegations that its forces killed scores of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry posted a video early Sunday that showed bodies in civilian clothing on the side of the road, accusing Russian forces of executing the residents. Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, shared several photos of casualties, some with their hands tied behind their backs.

“These people were not in the military. They had no weapons. They posed no threat. How many more such cases are happening right now in the occupied territories?” Podolyak said on Twitter.

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content: Communal workers carry a civilian in a body bag after he was killed during Russian army shelling in the town of Bucha, not far from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on April 3, 2022.

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

CNBC could not immediately independently verify the claims of execution. But reporters on the ground from The New York Times, Associated Press and Reuters said they saw bodies in civilian clothing on the streets. The AP saw some with their hands tied behind their backs, and also saw two bodies wrapped in plastic, bound with tape and thrown into a ditch.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, called for an independent investigation into the atrocities. She added that perpetrators of war crimes would be held accountable.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the country would issue more severe sanctions in response to the reports. “The images from Bucha are unbearable. Putin’s rampant violence is wiping out innocent families and knows no bounds,” Baerbock said on Twitter, according to a translation.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the images of dead civilians were “unbearable.” “The Russian authorities will have to answer for these crimes,” Macron said in a tweet.

—Jessica Bursztynsky

Zelenskyy accuses Russia of committing ‘genocide’ in Ukraine

Local residents ride bicycles past flattened civilian cars, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, on a street in the town of Bucha, in Kyiv region, Ukraine April 1, 2022. 

Oleksandr Ratushniak | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the Russian military of committing “genocide” against Ukrainian people.

Zelenskyy made the comments in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” in light of the reported devastation in the town of Bucha, near the capital Kyiv. Russian forces have now retreated from the city after occupying it for weeks.

“This is genocide,” Zelenskyy said. “We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of those nationalities. 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 officials say bodies of dead civilians in Bucha show signs of torture and appear to be executed. Reuters reported some victims laid in mass graves while others were still on the city’s streets.

Editors Note: Graphic Content: A body of a civilian man with hands tied behind his back lies in the street as a communal worker prepares a plastic body bag to carry him to a waiting car in town of Bucha, not far from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on April 3, 2022.

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

The International Criminal Court is traditionally where claims of alleged war crimes are adjudicated. The ICC defines genocide as “the specific intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group by killing its members or by other means.”

Kevin Stankiewicz

GOP Rep. Kinzinger: Tucker Carlson and politicians who supported Putin should ‘answer’ for their support

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) speaks after the Republican House caucus voted to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) of her leadership, at the U.S. Capitol on on May 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

In a tweet from his personal account, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said that members of Congress and media figures who have expressed support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should now be held to account, given the emerging evidence of Russian atrocities in Bucha and other areas near Kyiv.

He specifically called out Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the tweet.

Carlson’s and McCarthy’s offices didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

— John Rosevear

Russia’s move away from Kyiv not a ‘withdrawal’ but a ‘repositioning,’ NATO’s Secretary General says

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference after the Extraordinary Summit of NATO Heads of State and Government in Brussels, Belgium on March 24, 2022.

Halil Sagirkaya | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia’s retreat from Kyiv does not appear to be a “withdrawal,” but rather a shift in strategy.

“What we see is not really a withdrawal, we see that Russia is repositioning its troops,” Stoltenberg told CNN’s Dana Bash. “They are taking some of them back to rearm them, to reinforce them, and to resupply them. We should not in any way be too optimistic, the attacks will continue, and we are also concerned about potential increased attacks in the south and in the east.

“So this is not really a withdrawal, more a shift in strategy, focusing more on the South and East,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed Stoltenberg’s comments, telling NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Russian forces “may be regrouping. They may be recalibrating. We’re focused on on what they’re doing, not what they’re saying.”

— John Rosevear

Pope Francis prays for end to ‘sacrilegious’ war

General audience of Pope Francis with the presence of a small group of faithful in masks after the long pause due to the coronavirus pandemic in the Cortile San Damaso. Vatican City (Vatican), May 26th, 2021.

Grzegorz Galazka | Mondadori Portfolio | Getty Images

Pope Francis prayed Sunday for an end to the “sacrilegious” war in Ukraine and for the world to show kindness and compassion to refugees as he concluded a two-day visit to Malta that was dominated by his concern for the devastation unleashed by Russia’s invasion.

Francis asked for prayers for peace in Ukraine, a day after he blasted Russia’s invasion as “infantile” and based on “anachronistic claims of nationalistic interests.”

He urged the faithful to “think of the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in the martyred Ukraine, which continues to be bombarded in this sacrilegious war. May we be tireless in praying and in offering assistance to those who suffer.”

The Associated Press

Zelenskyy calls for ceasefire before meeting with Putin

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives for a meeting with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine April 1, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for a ceasefire so that he can meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I can’t even have a meeting when the shelling is going on,” Zelenskyy said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “So, first the ceasefire and then we can have a meeting with the Russian president … we will discuss a point in time where the end of the war will come.”

After discussions, Zelenskyy said Russian troops need to exit Ukrainian borders. “This is the bare minimum,” he said.

—Jessica Bursztynsky

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

EDITORS NOTE: Image contains graphic content

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia on Sunday of carrying out a deliberate “massacre” in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv and called on the G-7 to impose “devastating” new sanctions on Moscow.

“We are still gathering and looking for bodies, but the number has already gone into the hundreds. 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.

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic Content: A communal worker standing inside a van loaded with body bags, waits for another body to be wrapped and collected by a colleague following Russian shelling of the town of Bucha, not far from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on April 3, 2022.

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

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

— Reuters

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister says more humanitarian corridors are set to open

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, said in a message on the Telegram messaging app that more evacuations are planned.

“We continue to evacuate people from Mariupol to Zaporizhia,” Vereshchuk wrote. “There are currently 17 buses near Berdyansk — 10 of them are for the evacuation of Mariupol residents and local residents. If they are not allowed into the city, we ask people to come to the checkpoint at the entrance to Berdyansk — there they will be waiting for you.”

Seven additional buses will attempt once again to get near the battered port city of Mariupol, Vereshchuk said. Evacuations are also planned out of the towns of Lysychansk, Nyzhne, Popasna, Rubizhne, Severodonetsk, she added.

— Terri Cullen

Russia will soon ask for ruble payments for other exports, Kremlin warns

Russian rouble coins are seen in this illustration taken February 24, 2022.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Russia will soon ask for ruble payments for other exports, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has warned, saying heavy economic sanctions imposed by the West have accelerated diminishing confidence in the dollar and euro.

“I have no doubt that it will in the future be extended to new groups of goods,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, Reuters reported, citing RIA news agency.

Peskov’s comments referred to Moscow’s repeated demands that so-called “unfriendly” countries pay for Russian natural gas in rubles.

The U.S. and international allies have imposed an unprecedented barrage of economic sanctions against Russia, seeking to isolate the Kremlin following its unprovoked onslaught in Ukraine.

— Sam Meredith

Several missile strikes hit Ukraine’s southern port city of Mykolaiv, mayor says

The Mayor of Mykolaiv Olexandr Senkevych has reported that several rocket attacks have hit Ukraine’s southern port city.

“Friends, we have had several missile strikes in the city. We are collecting data now,” Senkevych said via Telegram, according to a translation.

It comes shortly after a series of explosions could be heard in Ukraine’s southern city of Odesa, prompting thick black smoke to cover the sky. Like Mykolaiv, Odesa is a strategically important port hub on the Black Sea coast.

— Sam Meredith

Ukraine sees sharp drop in March grain exports, economic ministry says

A summer wheat harvest in Chernihiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017.

Vincent Mundy | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ukrainian grain exports in March were four times less than February levels as a result of Russia’s unprovoked onslaught, the economy ministry has said, according to Reuters.

Gran shipments overseas last month included 1.1 million metric tons of corn, 309,000 tons of wheat and 118,000 tons of sunoil, the ministry said.

— Sam Meredith

UK says Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilians ‘must be investigated as war crimes’

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has called for Russia’s attacks against Ukrainian civilians to be investigated as war crimes, saying there appears to be mounting evidence of “appalling acts” by the Kremlin’s forces in towns such as Irpin and Bucha.

Communal workers carry body bags to a waiting van (unseen) following Russian shelling of the town of Bucha, not far from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on April 3, 2022.

Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

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

“The UK will fully support any investigations by the International Criminal Court, in its role as the primary institution with the mandate to investigate and prosecute war crimes.”

— Sam Meredith

Russia’s actions near Kyiv ‘look exactly like war crimes,’ Zelenskyy advisor says

A man walks with bags of food in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on April 2, 2022.

Ronaldo Schemidt | Afp | Getty Images

Russian forces may be leaving behind evidence of war crimes as they withdraw from territories near Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, an advisor to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said in an interview with the BBC.

Sergey Nikiforov said images coming out of Ukrainian towns such as Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin are “really hard to describe” and “heartbreaking.”

Nikiforov told the BBC that Ukrainian forces had found mass graves, people with their hands and legs tied up and the bodies of civilians executed with bullets in the back of their heads. CNBC has been unable to independently verify these claims.

Asked whether what has been found could amount to war crimes, Nikiforov told the BBC: “I have to be very careful with my wording but it looks exactly like war crimes.”

— Sam Meredith

Russia’s chief negotiator says draft peace treaty talks to resume Monday

Russian presidential aide and head of the Russian delegation Vladimir Medinsky.

Maxim Guchek | Afp | Getty Images

Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky says draft peace treaty talks will resume on Monday, underlining that the Kremlin’s position on Crimea and Donbas remains unchanged.

His comments appeared to challenge earlier reports suggesting sufficient progress had been made to allow for direct contact between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

“The Ukrainian side has started to approach the questions related to a neutral and non-nuclear status more realistically, but the draft treaty of the agreements is not ready to be submitted to a summit meeting,” Medinsky said in a Telegram post, according to a translation.

“I will repeat it again and again: Russia’s position on Crimea and Donbass is UNCHANGED,” he added.

— Sam Meredith

Most animals in a shelter near Kyiv have died due to Russia’s invasion, NGO says

Most of the animals kept in a shelter near Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv have died as a result of Russia’s invasion, according to animal rights advocacy group UAnimals.

The NGO said in an online post that of the 485 animals housed in the shelter in Borodyanka, a settlement northwest of Kyiv, only 150 have survived.

Volunteers have been able to access the animal shelter for the first time since the early days of Russia’s invasion, they added, thanking those involved in the rescue operation.

“The animals are exhausted and in serious condition,” UAnimals said in a statement posted on Facebook, according to a translation.

“From the very beginning of the war, the animals were abandoned, without food or water. Due to the occupation, it was extremely difficult to get there.”

— Sam Meredith

Hungarians head to polls in the shadow of war in Ukraine

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, leaves a booth after marking his ballot at a polling station in Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday, April 3, 2022.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Polls opened across Hungary early Sunday as voters in the Central European country faced a choice: take a chance on a diverse, Western-looking coalition of opposition parties, or grant nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban a renewed mandate with a fourth consecutive term in office.

The contest is expected to be the closest since Orban took power in 2010, thanks to Hungary’s six main opposition parties putting aside ideological differences to form a united front against his right-wing Fidesz party.

Recent polls suggest a tight race but give Fidesz a slight lead, making it likely that undecided voters will determine the victor in Sunday’s vote.

— Associated Press

Black smoke seen billowing into Odesa sky following a series of loud explosions

Images show thick black smoke covering the skies of Odesa, a port city on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, shortly after missiles hit the area.

Smoke rises after an attack by Russian army in Odessa, on April 3, 2022.

Bulent Kilic | AFP | Getty Images

A woman seen walking in Ukraine’s southern port city of Odesa as smoke fills the sky following a series of loud explosions.

Bulent Kilic | Afp | Getty Images

Air strikes rocked Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea port Odessa early Sunday morning, according to an interior ministry official, after Kyiv had warned that Russia was trying to consolidate its troops in the south.

Bulent Kilic | Afp | Getty Images

Journalists and residents look on as smoke fills the Odesa sky.

Bulent Kilic | AFP | Getty Images

— Sam Meredith; Getty Images

Evacuation attempts to get people out of the besieged city of Mariupol to continue

Humanitarian convoy with 42 buses arrive at a refugee hub in Zaporizhzhia from Mariupol after 42 hours evacuation process in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on April 01, 2022.

Andrea Carrubba | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said work will continue on Sunday to evacuate people from the besieged port city of Mariupol.

“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, Reuters reported.

Vereshchuk reportedly said 17 buses were prepared to evacuate people from Mariupol and Berdyansk.

A Red Cross convoy of humanitarian workers turned around on Friday after saying it had become impossible to proceed with its mission to facilitate the safe passage of civilians.

— Sam Meredith

Missiles hit Ukraine’s southern port city of Odesa

Smoke rises after an attack by Russian forces in Odessa, on April 3, 2022.

Bulent Kilic | Afp | Getty Images

A series of explosions have been heard in Ukraine’s strategically important port city of Odesa, with the city council reporting a missile attack on an infrastructure facility.

“The enemy launched a missile attack on Odessa,” Petro Obukhov, a member of the Odesa city council, said via Facebook. “One of the goals was an infrastructure facility. We will not forget or forgive anything.”

It comes after multiple journalists reported smoke billowing into the sky on the Black Sea coast following a series of loud explosions in the early hours of Sunday. CNBC has not been able to independently verify this information.

Washington Post Correspondent Isabelle Khurshudyan, who is based in Odesa, said via Twitter: “Loud explosions in downtown Odessa right now. My hotel room windows just shook. Not clear what that was.”

Separately, ITV Correspondent Richard Gaisford reported that smoke was billowing into the sky above Odesa following a series of explosions.

— Sam Meredith

Russian forces targeting Ukraine’s east and south, Zelenskyy warns

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses the members of Dutch parliament via video link, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 31, 2022. 

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Russian forces are seeking to capture areas in the east and south of the country.

“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,” Zelenskyy said in his latest address.

He said that while Ukrainian forces had regained control over communities in Kyiv and Chernihiv, Russian forces had reserves to increase pressure in the east.

“We are strengthening our defenses in the eastern direction and in Donbas,” Zelenskky said.

— Sam Meredith

Russian air power is shifting to southeastern Ukraine, British ministry says

A Ukrainian soldier walks past the remains of a downed Russian helicopter near Kharkiv on March 31, 2022.

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

Russian air activity has increased over southeastern Ukraine in the past week as invading forces shift their efforts to that part of the country, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said in its daily intelligence update.

However, Ukrainian anti-air capabilities still pose a “significant” challenge to Russian warplanes and helicopters, which have been unable to locate and destroy Ukrainian air defense units, the ministry said Friday night.

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

The southeastern part of Ukraine would include the port city of Mariupol, which has been largely destroyed by Russian siege.

Russian ground forces attacking in the north have been pushed back from the capital Kyiv over the last week.

— Ted Kemp

Ukraine says it has regained control of Kyiv for first time since start of Russian invasion

Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov visits positions of Ukrainian service members, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, outside of Kyiv, Ukraine March 25, 2022.

Ukrainian Defence Ministry | Reuters

Ukraine said it has regained control of Kyiv for the first time since the start of the Russian invasion.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar wrote that the “whole Kyiv region is liberated from the invader.” Reuters reported that there was no immediate Russian comment on the claim, which could not be independently verified.

Russia has left behind heavy damage, wrecked tanks, destroyed buildings and dead bodies, even as it withdraws, according to the Reuters report. Russia has described the retreat as a symbolic effort that’s part of peace talks.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a morning video address on Saturday that dangers remain, even as Russian forces leave parts of the country. He said some withdrawing troops were laying mines or booby traps. CNBC has not been able to independently verify this report.

— Melissa Repko

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