Ukraine Update: Kyiv Warns Russia Is Adding Troops in Moldova

Track the latest on Russia's invasion of Ukraine here.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his forces are strengthening defenses in eastern Ukraine and Donbas, where Russia’s goal is to complete its takeover of the region. He said Ukraine has a shortage of modern anti-missile systems.

Russia said it struck an oil refinery supplying Ukrainian troops in central and eastern parts of the country. Transnistria, a pro-Russian enclave in neighboring Moldova, denied a Ukrainian claim that Moscow’s forces are redeploying in its territory in possible preparation for an attack from the west. 

A Ukrainian negotiator said he views peace talks as advanced enough to set the stage for talks between Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin, though there was no word from Moscow. The U.S. said it’s sending another $300 million in military and medical assistance to Ukraine, including Switchblade dive-bombing drones.  

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Key Developments

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Sweden Revives Forces to Shield Baltic From Putin (7 a.m.)

Sweden’s top army officer has been waiting a long time to get back to the windswept Baltic Sea island of Gotland. 

Karl Engelbrektson was a unit commander on Gotland in 2005 when Sweden withdrew its military from the crucial perch in the center of the Baltic, taking advantage of the post-Cold War peace. Even then, he thought the move was ill-judged

“Disbanding large parts of the armed forces, in the peace euphoria of that time, may have made sense to a lot of people,” Engelbrektson, clad in army fatigue next to a German-made Stridsvagn 122 tank, said in an interview at the Gotland base in late March. “History proves that this was a mistake.”

Ukraine Update: Kyiv Warns Russia Is Adding Troops in Moldova

Sanctions Will Increase Until Peace: Japan’s Hagiuda (4 a.m.)

Sanctions against Russia will only increase until a peace agreement with Ukraine becomes clear, Japan’s trade minister Koichi Hagiuda said Sunday on national broadcaster NHK.

Together with other nations, Japan will judge what other measures can be taken to further restrict the Russian economy, which has already been crippled by a wide-ranging series of trade and finance curbs, Hagiuda said. The government has not restrained Japanese companies from continuing to operate in Russia, however the longer the war continues, the harder it will be to keep conducting business there, he said.

Trump Calls Russian Invasion ‘Outrageous’ (3:45 a.m.)

Former U.S. President Donald Trump called Russia’s invasion “outrageous” and again defended his comments from before the assault that Vladimir Putin was a “genius” and “very savvy.”

Speaking at a rally in Michigan, Trump said he was at the time referring to what he thought was a negotiating tactic by Putin in massing troops at the border.

“This invasion of Ukraine would never have happened if I was in the White House,” Trump said. “I knew Putin very well. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing. We had no conflict, remember?”

Ukraine Bracing on Eastern, Southern Fronts (11 p.m.)

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukrainian forces are shifting their focus eastward, while continuing to regain control in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions.

“We are strengthening defense in east and in Donbas,” he said in a video message late Saturday. “We are aware that the enemy has reserves to increase pressure in the east” and that Russia wants “to capture Donbas and the south of Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said.

Ukraine “has not received enough modern anti-missile systems,” he added.

Ukraine Confirms Oil Refinery Hit (9:45 p.m.)

Russian strikes hit the Kremenchuk oil refinery in central Ukraine, according to accounts by both sides. The governor of Ukraine’s Poltava region said the attack shut down the facility and destroyed its infrastructure.

The facility supplied Ukrainian troops in the central and eastern parts of the country, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement. 

In the same region, the governor said a Russian missile strike damaged an airfield at Myrhorod. Konashenkov said missiles destroyed two Ukrainian airfields on Saturday.

Negotiator Comments on Peace-Deal Drafting (9:15 p.m.) 

Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said peace talks with Russia are at a stage that could lead to direct contact between Zelenskiy and Putin. 

The latest talks in Turkey “confirmed our thesis that drafts of the documents are prepared enough to conduct direct consultations between the two leaders,” Arakhamia said on Ukrainian television.  

“Our task is to prepare a final stage not of the draft itself, but of those issues that we touched upon, and to prepare a future meeting of the presidents,” he said. 

Mines Being Cleared in Kyiv Suburbs (8:30 p.m.)

Mine-clearance units working in the Kyiv region found 643 explosives on Saturday in Irpin, a suburb of the capital that saw heavy fighting in early March, Ukraine’s state emergency service reported.

Ukrainian Official Claims Kyiv Region Freed (7:35 p.m.) 

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said the towns of Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel “and the entire Kyiv region are free from the invader.” 

While there’s been evidence of Russian troops pulling out of positions north of the capital, the claim on Maliar’s Facebook page couldn’t be verified and there was no comment from Russia.

Russia offered this week to “fundamentally cut back” military operations in northern Ukraine and Ukraine’s military has been taking back territory around Kyiv.

Chernobyl Zone Situation Unclear, IAEA Says (7:30 p.m.)

Ukrainian officials said that while Russian forces have left the former nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, the situation in the off-limits highly radioactive zone around the site is “unclear,” the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

Ukraine is examining the possibility of resuming regulatory control of the site, which includes radioactive-waste management, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement.

Ukraine Update: Kyiv Warns Russia Is Adding Troops in Moldova

Ex-ICC Prosecutor Urges Arrest Warrant for Putin (6:10 p.m.)

Former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte called on the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top Kremlin officials. 

Del Ponte, 75, is best known for investigating war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, including those involving former Serb President Slobodan Milosevic. She spoke to the Swiss newspaper Le Temps. 

“Putin is a war criminal,” she said. “It is the only instrument that exists to arrest the perpetrator of a war crime.” 

Ukrainian Journalist Killed in Fighting (5:19 p.m.) 

Ukrainian photojournalist Maks Levin’s body was found in a village north of Kyiv, Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in a statement

Levin, 40, who went missing in the conflict area on March 13, had worked with Reuters, BBC, TRT World, Associated Press, Hromadske and, according to the statement. He’s survived by four sons, his wife and parents, according to

Lithuania Ends Gas Imports Over Ruble Demand (5:10 p.m.)

Lithuania’s government said it would no longer import gas from Russia over its demand to be paid in rubles. “We’re are the first EU state among Gazprom’s supply countries that has fully achieved independence from the Russian gas supplies,” Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys said.  

European officials expressed confidence last week that gas shipments would continue, despite Putin’s demand to be paid in his country’s currency. “For us, with regard to Putin’s threat or announcement or plan -- one doesn’t really know what to call it anymore -- to get paid in rubles, the main point is that the contracts are being kept,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said.  

Russian Soldiers Break Up Protest at Nuclear Plant (5:07 p.m.) 

Russian troops broke up a protest outside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine, nuclear regulator Energoatom said in a statement. Once the arrests started, shooting and explosions could be heard in the city. 

Russian forces occupied the site of the plant last month after an attack that ignited a fire at the complex. Ukraine told the IAEA at the time that essential equipment wasn’t affected and radiation levels hadn’t increased. 

Russia Hits Rail Infrastructure, Governor Says (4:33 p.m.) 

Russian missiles on Saturday badly damaged train tracks, railcars and other infrastructure in the eastern Ukraine city of Pavlohrad, according to the governor of the Dnipro region, Valentyn Reznichenko. 

The attack came as Lozova, an important railway hub about 50 km (37 miles) north of Pavlohrad, was also shelled, its mayor said on Facebook.

Firms Pull $45 Billion of Deals Since War Started (3:00 p.m.)

At least a hundred global companies have delayed or pulled financing deals worth more than $45 billion since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These include initial public offerings, bonds or loans and acquisitions. 

U.S. equity market deals were the worst hit by global volatility in the first quarter as a crop of firms postponed listings, while Japanese and European debt markets also suffered from delays. The disruption comes as the conflict roiled funding markets, hurt investor appetite for risk and increased uncertainty over growth, interest-rate hikes and supply chains.

Ukraine Update: Kyiv Warns Russia Is Adding Troops in Moldova

Pope Francis Says Kyiv Trip Possible (1:52 p.m.) 

Pope Francis said a potential trip to the Ukrainian capital was “on the table,” in response to a question, according to the Associated Press. Without referring to Russia or to Vladimir Putin by name, Francis, who was en route to Malta, blamed “some potentate” caught up in “anachronistic claims of nationalist interests” for the war. 

Transnistria Enclave Denies Russian Forces Plan (12:44 p.m.)

Authorities in Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway enclave of Moldova, denied Kyiv’s claim that its forces and redeployed Russian troops are readying for hostilities against Ukraine in a potential new front of Moscow’s war.  

Military units remain in their permanent deployments, the foreign ministry said, adding that “even planned activities” have been minimized to de-escalate tensions, and that about 25,000 Ukrainian refugees are in the territory. Transnistria is about 70 km (42 miles) northwest of the Ukraine’s Black Sea port city of Odesa. 

Moldova’s Foreign Ministry said it had “no information to confirm” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s assertion that troops in Transnistria were being redeployed to possibly prepare “hostilities against Ukraine.” There’s been no comment from Moscow.  

Accor Chief Says Hotels Will Stay Open in Russia (1:20 p.m.) 

The French hotel company Accor SA plans to remain open in both Russia and Ukraine since it provides an essential service for those who need it, Chief Executive Sebastien Bazin said on France Inter radio on Saturday. 

He added that Accor -- which operates the Fairmont, Banyan Tree and Sofitel chains -- isn’t financing Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine because it’s losing money in Russia and as a result isn’t paying taxes. “We have a 32% occupancy rate; you start making money at 55%,” he said.  

Zelenskiy Says Russian Soldiers Leaving North (9:25 a.m.) 

“The occupiers are withdrawing forces in the north of our country,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an early-morning video address from Kyiv. “The withdrawal is slow but noticeable.”  

He urged caution for any residents hoping to return. “They are mining the whole territory,” Zelenskiy said. “They are mining homes, mining equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed.” 

With Russian forces massing in Donbas to the east, Zelenskiy said Ukraine is preparing a more active defense. “I emphasize once again: hard battles lie ahead.” 

Zelenskiy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter that Russia’s refocus on Ukraine’s east and south heightened the need for “heavy weapons” to be provided. 

Central, Eastern Regions Hit Overnight (9:20 a.m.) 

Russian forces shelled infrastructure and residential houses in central and eastern regions, and fierce fighting continues in Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement. 

Seven humanitarian corridors are planned Saturday to evacuate people, though Russia is allowing only private cars, not buses, to leave the besieged southern city of Mariupol, according to the statement.  

The Red Cross says nine staff members were trying to get to Mariupol on Saturday to help facilitate the safe passage of civilians. 

Ukraine Advances Against Retreating Russian Troops, U.K. Says (8:17 a.m.)

Ukraine continues to advance against withdrawing Russian troops in the vicinity of Kyiv, the U.K. defense ministry said. Along the northwestern axis, Ukraine’s attempts to advance from Irpin toward Bucha and Hostomel were ongoing. 

Russian forces have withdrawn from Hostomel airport, about 32km (20 miles) northwest of Kyiv, the U.K said. They first captured the airfield at the start of the war and it’s has been subject to fierce fighting.  

The U.K. said Ukraine has also secured a key route in eastern Kharkhiv after heavy fighting following the recapture of Trostyanets, in the vicinity of Sumy, this week. 

U.S. to Help Move Soviet-Made Tanks to East (2:27 a.m.) 

The White House will help allies move Soviet-made tanks to Ukraine to support its defenses in the country’s eastern Donbas region, the New York Times reported, citing an unidentified U.S. official.

The transfers will begin soon, the official told the Times, declining to say how many tanks would be sent or from which countries they will come. The White House and the Defense Department didn’t respond to requests for comment.  

Pentagon to Provide $300 Million in Equipment (2 a.m.) 

The Department of Defense said it will provide communications systems, medical supplies and unmanned aerial systems including the Switchblade dive-bombing drone. The new equipment brings the total U.S. commitment to more than $2.3 billion in security assistance, the agency said in a statement.

The Defense Department will start a contracting process to procure the new equipment, rather than drawing down from U.S. defense stock. The Pentagon for the first time disclosed on-the-record it is supplying the Switchblade. It’s also sending the Puma, a hand-launched reconnaissance drone, and providing the Ukrainian military access to commercial imagery likely to include Russian military positions. 

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