Russia-Ukraine live news: ‘Noticeable’ Russia withdrawal in north | Russia-Ukraine war News

 Russia-Ukraine live news: ‘Noticeable’ Russia withdrawal in north |  Russia-Ukraine war News

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said there are “noticeable” signs of a Russian withdrawal from the north of Ukraine, but says more battles are ahead in the east.
  • The Red Cross is to make a new attempt to evacuate Ukrainian civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol, after a convoy was forced to turn back on Friday.
  • More than 6,200 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Friday, a senior official says.
  • The United Nations’ humanitarian chief will travel to Moscow on Sunday and then to Kyiv to discuss ceasefire efforts, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.
  • The United States says it is providing Ukraine with additional security assistance, as well as 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:

US think-tank says Russia focus now on Mariupol, Donetsk, Luhansk

The Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think-tank, has given its assessment of what Russia’s apparent pullback from Ukraine’s north suggests about Moscow’s military strategy.

Echoing the Ukrainian president, the IOW, says Russia’s “main effort is now focused on eastern Ukraine” with the goal of capturing Mariupol as well as the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Its analysts expect Russia to take Mariupol “in the coming days” but will continue to suffer heavy casualties.

“The Kremlin will continue to funnel reinforcements [including both low-quality individual replacements from Russia and damaged units redeployed from northeastern Ukraine] into operations in eastern Ukraine, but these degraded forces are unlikely to enable Russia to conduct successful large-scale offensive operations, ”IOW said in its update.

Zelenskyy says Russian withdrawal ‘slow but noticeable’; warns on east

In his latest video address, President Zelenskyy told Ukrainians that Russia’s withdrawal from northern areas of the country was “slow but noticeable” and that Russian forces were pulling back after battles or of their own volition.

“We are moving forward, moving carefully,” he said, adding that buildings, vehicles and even bodies were a risk to mines.

Zelenskyy warned again that the situation in the east was “extremely difficult” with Russia gathering its forces and “preparing for new powerful blows”. Ukraine was preparing an “active” defense, he added.

“I emphasize again, hard battles lie ahead. We can’t think we’ve already passed all the tests. ”

An armored vehicle sits destroyed in a field among bare trees near the village of Malaya Rohan
A Russian armored vehicle sits destroyed in a field near the village of Malaya Rohan in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region [Andrew Marienko/AP Photo]
A Ukrainian soldier checks a destroyed Russian tank in front of pink-colored houses, in Irpin, close to Kyiv,
A Ukrainian soldier checks a destroyed Russian tank on a residential street in Irpin, close to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv [Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

US to provide extra $ 300m in security assistance for Ukraine

The US has announced additional security assistance for Ukraine of up to $ 300m.

“This decision underscores the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in support of its heroic efforts to repel Russia’s war of choice,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

The latest assistance brings the total spending since the Russian invasion to more than $ 1.6bn.

US announces new export curbs targeting Russia, Belarus companies

The US has announced more export restrictions against Russia and Belarus, mostly companies with links to the military.

The action aims to “degrade Russian and Belarusian defense, aerospace, maritime, and other strategic sectors in response to Russia’s brutal assault on the sovereignty of Ukraine,” the Commerce Department said.

You can read more details here (PDF).

Russian troops in northern Ukraine withdrawing slowly but noticeably: Zelenskyy

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 medalist, 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 center 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 likely loss of fuel and ammunition supplies from these depots will likely add additional short-term strain to Russia’s already stretched logistics chains,” the UK’s Ministry of Defense 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 UN 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 to Kyiv.

Guterres said that the visit shows “that we don’t give up on the prospect 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 hypothetical future. 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 US 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 with 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 program 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 traveling 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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, airplanes… 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 bombing 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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