WASHINGTON — Ukraine’s foreign minister is describing the situation in Mariupol as dire and heartbreaking and says Russia’s continued attacks there could be a “red line” that ends all efforts to reach peace through negotiation.
Dmytro Kuleba tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the remaining Ukrainian military personnel and civilians in the port city are basically encircled by Russian forces.
He says the Ukrainians “continue their struggle” but that the city effectively doesn’t exist anymore because of massive destruction.
Kuleba says his country has been keeping up “expert level” talks with Russia in recent weeks in hopes of reaching a political solution for peace. But citing the significance of Mariupol, he echoed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in saying the elimination of Ukrainian forces there could be a “red line” that stops peace efforts.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Russia strikes Ukraine’s big cities, bears down on Mariupol
— Mother, grandmother weep over a 15-year-old killed in shelling of Kharkiv
— Elderly mother feels “lost,” seeks son’s body in Ukrainian town of Bucha
— Prince Harry pays tribute to Ukrainian competitors as he opens the Invictus Games
— ‘We pray for you’: Ukrainian Jews mark Passover, if they can
Follow all AP stories on Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden says he’s praying on Easter for those living in the “dark shadow” of war, persecution and poverty.
Biden released an Easter message Sunday in which he says he’s also praying for peace, freedom and basic dignity and respect for all of God’s children.
Biden didn’t say which war he had in mind, but the president has been deeply involved in trying to force an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The American president says he’s grateful that the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic has allow many people around the world to celebrate by attending religious services and in-person family gatherings. He also acknowledges that the holiest day on the Christian calendar “falls on heavy hearts for those who have lost loved ones and those among us living in the dark shadow of war, persecution and poverty.”
KYIV, Ukraine — A regional official in eastern Ukraine says at least two people have been killed by Russian shelling.
The Luhansk region’s governor, Serhiy Gaidai, said that at least four others were wounded Sunday when Russia forces fired at residential buildings in the town of Zolote.
Zolote is located near the front line in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland called Donbas, where the Russian forces are preparing for a massive offensive.
WASHINGTON — Ukraine’s prime minister says the besieged city of Mariupol hasn’t yet fallen to Russia and the Ukrainian forces there will fight “to the end.”
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal appealed during a Sunday appearance on an American television broadcast for help for the approximately 100,000 Ukrainians who remain trapped in the eastern city without food, water, heat and electricity.
He says some regions of Mariupol remain under Ukrainian control, and that Russia doesn’t have full dominance over the city.
Mariupol appeared on the brink of falling to Russian forces Sunday after seven weeks under siege. The Russian military gave a deadline for surrender to a few thousand Ukrainian fighters who were providing the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol, but the Ukrainians didn’t submit.
Shmyhal told ABC News’ “This Week” that Ukrainian forces are still fighting, including in the Donbas region, “but we do not have intention to surrender.”
The prime minister says Ukraine is prepared to end the war through diplomacy, if possible. Shmyhal says surrender isn’t an option, adding that “we will not leave our country, our families, our lands, so we will fight absolutely to the end, to the win, in this war.”
KYIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian health official says that at least five people have been killed in the Russian shelling of Kharkiv.
Maksym Haustov, the head of the Kharkiv regional administration’s health department, said that another 13 residents were wounded by Sunday’s shelling of Ukraine’s second-largest city.
Rescuers have been working to help survivors after the shelling that hit residential and administrative buildings and caused fires. Officials said the center of Kharkiv came under shelling by multiple rocket launchers.
KHARKIV, Ukraine — Multiple rockets struck the center of the eastern city of Kharkiv on Sunday, according to AP journalists in the city.
The barrage slammed into apartment buildings and left broken glass, debris and part of at least one rocket scattered on the street. Several apartments caught fire, with firefighters and residents scrambling to douse the flames.
At least two bodies were seen, and four other people were injured, though the scale of the attack suggested the casualty toll could rise further.
MOSCOW — The Russian military has warned that Ukrainian troops refusing to surrender in the besieged port of Mariupol will be destroyed.
The Russian Defense Ministry gave the Ukrainians at Mariupol’s giant Azovstal steel mill until 1 p.m. Sunday (1000 GMT) to surrender, saying that those who put down their weapons will be “guaranteed to keep their lives.”
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that the Ukrainian military command had banned its troops from surrendering. He said the Russian military received the information from intercepted communications.
Konashenkov warned that “all those who will continue resistance will be destroyed.”
He claimed that along with Ukrainian troops, there are about 400 foreign mercenaries encircled at Azovstal, most of them from European countries and Canada, communicating in six languages, according to intercepts. Konashenkov’s claim couldn’t be independently verified.
VATICAN CITY — In an Easter Sunday message aimed at the world but heavily focused on Ukraine, Pope Francis raised two worries — the risk of nuclear warfare and that other armed conflicts on the globe will go unnoticed.
In a speech from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope quoted a declaration from scientists in the 1950s in which they posed the question: “Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war?”
The pope has repeatedly made anguished pleas for a cease-fire and negotiations to end the war in Ukraine. In his Easter message, Francis lamented that “so many of our brothers and sisters have had to lock themselves away in order to be safe from bombing.”
He expressed hope that the war in Europe will “also make us more concerned about other situations of conflict, suffering and sorrow” in situations “that we cannot overlook and do not want to forget.” Among the places he cited were Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. He singled out Yemen, suffering from a conflict “forgotten by all, with continuous victims.”
MILAN — Italian Premier Mario Draghi is calling Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion “heroic,” depriving Russia of what it expected to be a rapid victory and setting the stage for a “prolonged” war.
Draghi told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera in an interview published Sunday that “what awaits us is a war of resistance, prolonged violence with destruction that will continue. There is no sign that the Ukraine population can accept a Russian occupation.”
Draghi noted that Italy remained close to the Ukrainian people, with the reopening of its embassy in Kyiv. The ambassador returned to the capital on Friday, and the embassy is expected to be fully operational on Monday.
Draghi, who spoke to Putin before the war broke out and again at the end of March, said he has come to believe that speaking with the Russian leader “is just a waste of time.”
Draghi said: “I have the impression that the horror of the war, with its carnage, with what they have done to children and women, is completely independent of the words and the phone calls.”
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s deputy defense minister says that the key port of Mariupol is holding despite the continuing Russian attacks.
Hanna Malyar said Sunday that the defenders of the key Sea of Azov port have tied up significant Russian forces besieging the city. She described Mariupol as a “shield defending Ukraine” that prevents the Russian troops encircling the city from advancing to other areas of the country.
Malyar said that the Russians have continued to hit Mariupol with air raids and were possibly preparing an amphibious landing to beef up their forces in the city.
LONDON — In his Easter sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has called for Russia to declare a cease-fire and withdraw in Ukraine.
The leader of the Anglican church said Easter is a time for peace and not “blood and iron.”
Noting that in the Eastern Orthodox church followed by many in Russia and Ukraine Sunday marks the start of Holy Week — the week leading to Easter — he said ”let this be a time for Russian cease-fire, withdrawal and a commitment to talks.”
Welby said God “hears the cry of the mothers in Ukraine, he sees the fear of boys too young to become soldiers, and he knows the vulnerability of the orphans and refugees.”
MOSCOW — The Russian military has told Ukrainian troops in the besieged port of Mariupol that if they lay down their weapons they will be “guaranteed to keep their lives.”
The Russian Defense Ministry made the announcement early Sunday. Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said that the Ukrainians encircled at the giant Azovstal steel factory were given until 1 p.m. (1000 GMT) to surrender.
It was the latest such offer to the Ukrainian defenders of the key Sea of Azov port during a siege that has lasted for more than 1½ months. Capturing Mariupol is a key strategic goal for Russia, allowing it to secure a land corridor to Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014. The fall of Mariupol would also free the Russian forces involved in the siege for a planned offensive in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland called Donbas.
The giant Azovstal steel mill that covers an area of more than 11 square kilometers (over 4.2 square miles) is the last major section of Mariupol still under Ukrainian control.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Saturday that about 2,500 Ukrainian troops remain at Azovstal, a claim that couldn’t be independently verified. The Ukrainian officials didn’t mention any numbers for the city defenders.
MOSCOW — The Russian military says it has struck a military plant on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital with missiles.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Sunday the military has used precision-guided air-launched missiles to attack the ammunition plant in Brovary outside Kyiv overnight.
He said that other Russian air raids also destroyed Ukrainian air defense radars near Sievierodonetsk in the east and several ammunition depots elsewhere.
The strikes were the latest in a series of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s weapons factories, air defense assets and other facilities as Moscow prepares for a massive offensive in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland called Donbas.
SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria has banned Russian-flagged ships from entering its Black Sea ports as part of expanded EU sanctions, the country’s Maritime Administration announced on its website on Sunday.
“All vessels registered under Russian flag, as well as all vessels that have switched their Russian flag, or flag or maritime register registration to any other state whatsoever after Feb. 24, are forbidden access to Bulgarian maritime and river ports,” the authority said.
Exceptions will be made only for ships in distress or seeking humanitarian assistance, or ships transporting energy products, food and pharmaceuticals to EU countries.
KHARKIV, Ukraine — Russia’s bombardment of cities around Ukraine on Saturday included an explosion in Kharkiv that destroyed a community kitchen.
Associated Press journalists at the scene recorded the immediate aftermath of the apparent missile attack. Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said three people were killed and 34 wounded by missile strikes Saturday in that city alone.
The kitchen was set up by World Central Kitchen, which is run by celebrity chef José Andrés to establish feeding systems in disaster and war zones. Andrés tweeted that the non-governmental organization’s staff members were shaken but safe.
The organization says it has now reached 30 cities across the country, providing nearly 300,000 meals a day. Andrés said the attack in Kharkiv shows that “to give food in the middle of a senseless war is an act of courage, resilience and resistance” and that his group’s chefs will keep cooking for Ukraine.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he spoke Saturday with the leaders of Britain and Sweden about how best to help those defending Mariupol and the tens of thousands of civilians trapped inside the besieged city.
Mariupol’s fate can be decided either through battle or diplomacy, he said.
“Either our partners give Ukraine all of the necessary heavy weapons, the planes, and without exaggeration immediately, so we can reduce the pressure of the occupiers on Mariupol and break the blockade,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation. “Or we do so through negotiations, in which the role of our partners should be decisive.”
NEW YORK — A Russian general whose troops have been besieging the Ukrainian port of Mariupol was buried on Saturday in St. Petersburg after dying in battle, the governor said.
Maj. Gen. Vladimir Frolov was deputy commander of the 8th Army, which Russian media identified as being among the forces battering Mariupol for weeks.
Gov. Alexander Beglov released a statement saying Frolov “died a heroic death in battle” without saying where or when he was killed. Photographs on Russian news websites showed his grave at a St. Petersburg cemetery piled high with red and white flowers.
Ukraine has claimed that several Russian generals and dozens of other high-ranking officers have been killed during the war.
WASHINGTON — Austria’s chancellor said after meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow this past week that the Russian president is “in his own war logic” when it comes to Ukraine.
Karl Nehammer told NBC in an interview that he thinks Putin believes he is winning the war. Nehammer was the first European leader to meet Putin in Moscow since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24. He said “we have to look in his eyes and we have to confront him with that, what we see in Ukraine.’’
Before arriving in Moscow last Monday, Nehammer had visited Bucha, Ukraine, the town outside of Kyiv where graphic evidence of killings and torture has emerged following the withdrawal of Russian forces.
Nehammer told “Meet the Press” that he confronted Putin with what he had seen in Bucha, and “it was not a friendly conversation.”
He said Putin said “he will cooperate with an international investigation, on one hand, and on the other hand, he told me that he doesn’t trust the Western world. So this will be the problem now in the future.”