Ukrainian children had emotional reunions with their parents in Kyiv on Saturday after months of separation following their deportation by Russian officials, according to the group that arranged the kids’ return.
The US Department of Justice and the Pentagon are investigating leaks of a trove of apparent intelligence documents about Ukraine that have emerged on social media.
Just four children remain in Avdiivka, a frontline eastern town with a pre-war population of 26,000 people. Despite the conflict raging nearby, officials are struggling to persuade people to leave.
Our live coverage for the day has ended. Follow the latest Ukraine news here or read through the updates below.
Russian attack kills at least 2 people in Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine
From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva
At least two men have died in the small town of Dvorichna in the Kharkiv region, according to a Telegram post from local Ukrainian authorities.
Russian shelling killed the the two men, aged 65 and 34, said Oleh Syniehubov, the head of Kharkiv’s military administration.
Dvorichna lies on the east side of the Kharkiv region, close to the front line in the neighboring Luhansk region.
Even though Ukraine succeeded in driving Russian fighters out of the area in September, it has remained in Russian sights, especially over recent months when Russian forces attempted a winter offensive.
These Ukrainian children were illegally deported by Russia, group says. Now they're back with family in Kyiv
From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, Kostyantin Gak, Natalie Gallón and Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv
Iryna embraces her son Bogdan after being reunited in Kyiv on April 8.
One day after crossing back into Ukraine, 31 children have finally been reunited with their families, months after they were taken from their homes and moved to Russian-occupied territories.
A CNN team in Kyiv on Saturday watched as the last of the children climbed off a bus to embrace waiting family members, many unable to hold back the tears as months of separation came to an end.
“We went to the summer camp for two weeks but we got stuck there for six months,” Bogdan, 13, said as he hugged his mother. “I cried when I saw my mom from the bus. I’m very happy to be back.”
Bogdan’s mother, Iryna, 51, said she had received very little information about her son in the six months they were apart.
“There was no phone connection. I was very worried. I didn’t know anything, whether he was being abused, what was happening to him. … My hands are still shaking,” she said.
Anastasiia holds her daughter Valeriia and son Maksym after being reunited in Kyiv on April 8.
The reunions took place in the Ukrainian capital and were coordinated by the humanitarian organization Save Ukraine. According to the group, it has now completed five missions bringing home Ukrainian children it says were forcibly deported by Russia.
“It is thanks to our joint and coordinated work that we once again experience these incredible emotions when, after a long separation, children run across their native land into the arms of their families. When you see tears of joy on the faces of young Ukrainians, you realize that it is not all in vain,” Save Ukraine founder Mykola Kuleba said in a press conference earlier Saturday.
At the same press conference, Kuleba said tragedy had struck during the latest rescue mission: One of the women traveling with the party – a grandmother – passed away during the journey. The woman had been due to pick up two children on the mission, but because of her death, the pair was not permitted to travel back to Ukraine.
Remember: Allegations of widespread forced deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia form the basis of war crimes charges brought against Russian President Vladimir Putin and a senior official, Maria Lvova-Belova, by the International Criminal Court last month.
A report released in February detailed allegations of an expansive network of dozens of camps where kids underwent “political reeducation,” including Russia-centric academic, cultural and, in some cases, military education.
Ukraine’s head of the Office of the President recently estimated the total number of children forcibly removed from their homes is at least 20,000. Kyiv has said thousands of cases are already under investigation.
Russia has denied it is doing anything illegal, claiming it is bringing Ukrainian children to safety.
Almost constant background fire echoes in Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar
From CNN's Ben Wedeman and Crendon Greenway in Chasiv Yar, Ukraine
Smoke billows during shelling on the outskirts of Chasiv Yar on April 7.
The blasts in the eastern Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar echo between buildings every minute or two, a CNN team reports.
Artillery, grad rockets and mortar fire were all audible in the town at different points Saturday — most of it believed to be outgoing from Ukrainian positions, but also some incoming from Russian forces.
The CNN team, which last visited Chasiv Yar eight days ago, said the amount of indirect fire appeared to have increased from the previous visit. It seems to indicate Ukrainian forces are working hard to keep open their key supply route into nearby Bakhmut, despite mounting Russian pressure.
Russian forces continue “to conduct offensive actions (in their attempt) to take full control of the city of Bakhmut,” the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in its latest situation update Saturday.
Unofficial reports suggest Russia’s troops have maintained their slow advance through the center of the long-embattled city, located just east of Chasiv Yar. The long fight for Bakhmut has seen Moscow’s fighters begin to enter western parts of the city, according to the reports, with the railway station as a possible next key target.
Life under constant fire: Back in Chasiv Yar, Ivan, a university student majoring in psychology, appeared unfazed by the constant sound of fire.
Ivan and his mother Ira are among the few civilians left in the town.
“As long as I can, I will stay here,” he said, before going back to sawing the trunk of a small tree. The logs will make a fire where his mother can cook.
Ira, a woman in her fifties with short hair and a gold pendant of the Virgin Mary around her neck, focused on the day’s chores — not the danger.
“We wake up every morning, light a fire and start preparing food,” she told CNN. “Every day Ivan fetches water and collects firewood.”
She’s already planning ahead for Orthodox Easter, next weekend. No church services have been conducted in a while, but she and Ivan will observe Easter with the few people left in their aging apartment complex.
While most residents have left, the town is far from empty, teeming with soldiers, tanks, armored personnel carriers and army trucks, which have left a thick layer of drying mud on the town’s streets.
Russian state media claims suspect in St. Petersburg bombing is cooperating with investigators
From CNN's Mariya Knight
Daria Trepova, the anti-war activist who Russia formally accused of a bombing that killed a well-known blogger at a cafe in St. Petersburg last weekend, is cooperating with investigators, Russian state media reported Saturday.
Meanwhile, Trepova’s husband, Dmitry Rylov, has told an independent Russian publication he is convinced she has been framed.
What we know so far: Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, fervently supported the war but also served at times as a rare critic of Kremlin setbacks and strategy.
He was appearing as a guest of a pro-war group at the cafe when he was killed by an explosion. A bomb had apparently been hidden inside a figurine, which was presented to him as a gift at the event.
Russian investigators formally charged Trepova with terrorism offenses over Tatarsky’s killing and arrested her this week.
Meetings in Washington give the US and its allies a chance to shore up Russian sanctions effort
From CNN's Sam Fossum
The United States and its allies will work to shore up any weaknesses in their unprecedented series of sanctions against Russia when leaders of the global financial system meet in Washington, DC, next week, senior US Treasury officials told CNN.
The Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank will provide the latest venue for the US to trade best practices on preventing Moscow from funding its war machine in Ukraine, according to the officials.
Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, the US and its partners have imposed thousands of sanctions on the Kremlin. But observers note concerns over Russia’s ability to reorient trade routes and acquire what it needs through neighboring countries or more permissive jurisdictions, such as the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.
The US has made major efforts to share information with allied countries and businesses on how the Kremlin is trying to evade sanctions, and it has seen encouraging results of late, Treasury officials said.
Lashing out in Moscow: While the US seeks to bolster the impact of Western sanctions, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev — who is now vice chair of the country’s National Security Council — slammed Washington and European governments for their support of Ukraine.
In a lengthy post Saturday on the Russian social media network VKontakte, Medvedev claimed support for Kyiv has caused “real financial and political hell” for Europe, blaming inflation and high utility costs on the governments’ support for Ukraine at “the detriment of their own citizens.”
He also said the US was wasting money on the conflict when it should instead focus on domestic issues.
Some context: Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 only exacerbated existing issues for a global economy that was still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. It pushed inflation to record highsand triggered an energy crisis in Europe.
Several rounds of Western sanctions have roiled markets further, driving up the cost of commodities like fuel. Meanwhile, efforts to address the global hunger crisis by boosting Ukrainian grain imports have angered some farmers in central and eastern European countries who say they can’t compete.
Western governments, however, place the blame for economic turmoil squarely on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion. And there are signs that more than a year of the unprecedented, US-led sanctions have left Russia weakened, if not incapacitated.
CNN’s Anna Cooban andMariya Knight contributed to this report.