The US has, for the first time, agreed to provide Kyiv with the types of high-power capabilities some Biden administration officials a few short weeks ago viewed as too great of an escalation risk, including 11 Mi-17 helicopters; 18 155 mm Howitzer cannons[ and 300 more Switchblade drones.
On Friday, a senior defense official told CNN the first flight of weapons and equipment was expected to arrive in the region in the following 24 hours and would be picked up at the border by Ukrainians and taken into the country.
The official referred CNN to the US Department of Defense for more details.
Ukrainian president calls situation in Mariupol "inhuman," promises to rebuild nation
From CNN's Tim Lister
In his latest Saturday video address to the people of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the situation in the besieged port city of Mariupol and promised a better future once hostilities are over.
Zelensky said "the situation in Mariupol remains as severe as possible. Just inhuman."
"Russia is deliberately trying to destroy everyone who is there in Mariupol," he said.
An estimated 100,000 people remain in Mariupol and its immediate surroundings, which are largely under Russian control, with Ukrainian troops confined to pockets of resistance.
"There are only two ways to influence this," Zelensky said. "Either our partners will give Ukraine all the necessary heavy weapons, planes, and, without exaggeration, immediately... Or a negotiating path, in which the role of partners should also be decisive."
Zelesnky said his government has tried every day to end the siege of Mariupol: "Military or diplomatic – anything to save people. But finding this solution is extremely difficult."
"Although we have heard many intentions from those who wanted to help and who are really in positions of international influence, none of them have been realized yet." he added.
French President Emmanuel Macron proposed on March 25 a mass evacuation by sea, but the plan went nowhere.
Zelensky said every day either he or the armed forces chief or the head of Ukraine's negotiating team had been "in touch with our defenders of Mariupol. Every day."
Zelensky also said his government had begun to plan for a post-war future.
"Today I held a meeting dedicated to the reconstruction of our cities," he said. "Of course, this is a huge amount of work. But still less than defending the state in war."
The president added, "Now it is a historic moment; the moment when we can solve many old problems of the whole environment of our life once and for all."
Zelensky addressed the housing situation and what he called the "real modernization of our cities."
"Millions of people know how difficult it is to get a home, earn money for their own apartment, build a house... Today, I set a task to provide temporary housing to all our IDPs [internally displaced.]...Those whose house was destroyed by war. Temporary housing until we rebuild their homes."
A priority, he said, would be homes for veterans to "provide housing for all those who have defended or are defending the state, who have worked or are working in the interests of society, and do not have their own housing. It can no longer be the case that a person devotes his whole life to military service, but retires without having his own apartment."
Zelensky also said memorials were being planned, one of which "will tell the story of the destroyed bridge in Kyiv region, which connected Irpin and Bucha with Kyiv. The story of people who escaped from Russian invaders to Kyiv using this bridge and this road."
The bridge was the escape route for thousands of civilians escaping Russian bombardment in March.
6:04 p.m. ET, April 16, 2022
Russia's defense ministry releases video of Navy commander meeting crew of Moskva: TASS
From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Lviv, Ukraine, and Masha Angelova in Tel Aviv
The Russian navy's commander-in-chief, Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, met with the crew of the guided-missile cruiser Moskva in Sevastopol, according to Russian state news agency TASS, citing the defense ministry.
TASS released ministry of defense video Saturday showing what was described as officers and sailors of the sunken warship standing in formation two rows deep.
The number of sailors in formation was not clear. The Russian military has released no information about casualties aboard the Moskva, which sank Thursday in the Black Sea. It was unclear how many crew members were aboard, or how many survived.
The Moskva was the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet. Ukraine claimed it had hit the cruiser with anti-ship missiles, while the Russian military acknowledged only the ship had sunk after a fire on board and the detonation of ammunition.
Evmenov said conscript sailors from the Moskva would be released from service in accordance with the law from May to July, TASS reported.
5:55 p.m. ET, April 16, 2022
Russian General Vladimir Frolov killed in Ukraine, St. Petersburg's mayor says
From CNN’s Masha Angelova
Russia's second largest city of St. Petersburg announced the death of a Russian general in Ukraine in a statement of condolence Saturday.
The city expressed condolences for the deputy commander of Russia's 8th Army, Major General Vladimir Frolov, who died in Ukraine this week, the mayor’s press office said in a statement.
St. Petersburg Mayor Alexander Beglov attended the funeral, held at the historic Serafimovskoe Cemetery on Saturday, the statement said.
“Today we say goodbye to a true hero," Beglov said, according to the statement. "Vladimir Petrovich Frolov died a heroic death in battle with Ukrainian nationalists. He sacrificed his life so that children, women and old people in the Donbas would no longer hear the explosions of bombs. So that they stop waiting for death and, leaving home, say goodbye as if it were for the last time."
CNN could not confirm the circumstances of Frolov's death. Several top Russian officers have been killed in Ukraine.
5:14 p.m. ET, April 16, 2022
“World is united” with Ukraine, Prince Harry says
From CNN's Cece Armstrong
During a speech at Saturday's opening ceremony of the Invictus Games at The Hague, Prince Harry said “the world is united” with Ukraine.
Speaking of the Ukrainian servicemen and women who traveled to the Netherlands to compete, he said: “You told me yesterday why you decided to join us, despite all odds. You said you came to be on this global stage, not simply to show your strength, but to tell your truth, the truth of what is happening in your country.”
Prince Harry was joined by his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. The Invictus Games, which will run until next Friday, had been postponed for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also paid tribute to the Ukrainian team.
“Unity and solidarity will always win out over confrontation and conflict,” he said in a statement on social media. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian Invictus community. Some of them can’t be here because they are fighting on the frontlines. Others have lost their lives in the war. They are in our thoughts.
“The stories of the athletes competing in the Invictus Games are stories of resilience,” Rutte's statement said. “They show us that, whatever challenges we face, our souls remain unconquered.”
Prince Harry founded the games in 2014 as a way to use sport to help the recovery and rehabilitation of injured service members. The Prince served in the British Army for 10 years and completed two tours in Afghanistan.
Before arriving in The Hague from their home in California, Harry and Meghan stopped by the UK to visit Queen Elizabeth.
4:16 p.m. ET, April 16, 2022
It's 11 p.m. in Kyiv. Catch up on the latest developments here
As Sunday approaches in Ukraine, Russian forces appear to be focusing on areas in eastern Ukraine ahead of a planned ground offensive while carrying out strikes in other regions.
Attacks across Ukraine on Saturday:
East: Russia has intensified attacks in several locations in eastern Ukraine, according to Ukrainian military and regional officials. The Luhansk region military administration said there was extensive damage to civilian infrastructure following Russian strikes in the region.
South: The Mykolaiv and Kherson regions in southern Ukraine have been under heavy shelling on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said in a statement. The statement alleged that Russian forces were "enraged by the losses in the Black Sea" — an apparent reference to the sinking of the Russian guided-missile cruiser Moskva.
Kyiv: At least one person was killed and several others injured in the capital of Kyiv after the Ukrainian capital "came under fire" on Saturday morning, the city's mayor said.
Northeast: The Kharkiv Prosecutor's Office said Saturday that two civilians were killed and 18 injured in a cruise-missile strike in the northeastern Ukrainian city.
West: The head of the Lviv regional military administration in western Ukraine said Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems downed Russian cruise missiles that were fired on Saturday morning toward the Lviv region.
Worries over ammunition: There is growing concern about the need to get more ammunition — and in particular artillery ammunition — to Ukrainian forces more rapidly as heavy ground combat against Russian units is expected to unfold in the coming days, according to a US official. Even the amount of security assistance from the US could be expended within several days, raising the prospect of Ukraine forces running out of ammunition, the official said.
Meanwhile, Russian leaders — angry over the loss of its Black Sea Fleet flagship — have warned of "unpredictable consequences" if the US continues supplying weapons to Ukraine.
Evacuations: Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said on Saturday that nearly 1,500 people have been evacuated so far from areas in southern and eastern Ukraine affected by fighting.
It took six hours for one elderly woman who spoke with CNN to be evacuated from a frontline town to the relative safety of a care home further west due to shelling threats, she said.
3:42 p.m. ET, April 16, 2022
Nearly 1,500 Ukrainian civilians evacuated from areas of fighting Saturday, Ukraine's deputy PM says
From CNN's Jonny Hallam
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Saturday that 1,449 people have been evacuated so far from areas in southern and eastern Ukraine affected by fighting.
Vereshchuk said that only 170 people managed to escape from Mariupol by their own means of transport to Zaporizhzhia on Saturday. Another 1,211 residents of Polohy, Vasylivka, Berdiansk and Melitopol made safe passage to Zaporizhzhia.
Despite constant shelling, 68 people were evacuated from the cities of Severodonetsk, Rubizhne and Kreminna in the Luhansk region, Vereshchuk said.
Vereshchuk said that due to heavy and mass shelling, the evacuation of people from Lysychansk was completely disrupted.
3:11 p.m. ET, April 16, 2022
UK "will stop at nothing to ensure Ukrainians" have resources to defend themselves, prime minister says
From CNN's Cecelia Armstrong
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday that “the UK will stop at nothing to ensure Ukrainians have the resources they need” to defend their country against Russia’s invasion, according to a statement on social media.
Johnson spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Saturday afternoon, according to the tweet.
In his own statement on Twitter, Zelensky said the two spoke about the agreements reached during Johnson’s recent visit to Kyiv earlier this month, adding that they spoke about defense and macro-financial support as well as the situation in the besieged port city of Mariupol.
According to a statement from Downing Street, “the Prime Minister paid tribute to the bravery of Ukrainian forces who continue to valiantly defend their country's freedom.”
“President Zelenskyy updated the Prime Minister on the situation in Mariupol, and the Prime Minister said he saluted Ukrainian resistance in the city. The pair discussed the need for a long-term security solution for Ukraine, and the Prime Minister said he would continue to work closely with allies and partners to ensure Ukraine could defend its sovereignty in the weeks and months to come,” the Downing Street statement said. “The Prime Minister updated President Zelenskyy on new sanctions from the UK that came into force last week and said the UK would continue to provide the means for Ukraine to defend itself, including armoured vehicles in the coming days. The Prime Minister said international support for Ukraine only grew stronger and that he remained convinced Ukraine would succeed, and Putin would fail,” according to the statement.
3:13 p.m. ET, April 16, 2022
Bodies in Bucha mass grave are being exhumed to recover and identify the dead
Hundreds who died in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha are now being exhumed more than two weeks after Russia's occupation of the area.
There is a wide-scale operation to recover and identify the dead in the town's mass grave and those buried in other shallow graves, according to CNN's Phil Black.
The Russian retreat revealed at least 20 bodies lining a single street. The widow of a man who was killed while riding his bicycle said she urged her husband not to go outside, but he insisted on leaving their home. He was killed as soon as he reached the road, she said via translated remarks, and his bike still remains there.
There is a social media database that people can search to find images and information about their dead loved ones, Black reported, which is "harrowing" to go through.
More than 900 bodies of civilians from the Kyiv region have been discovered since the Russian army withdrew from the area, police said Friday.
Watch the report below. (Note: It contains graphic imagery.)