The war is now in its fourth week. Overnight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the Kremlin of deliberately creating “a humanitarian catastrophe”, but also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet with him for direct talks.

On Saturday, Ukraine raged on multiple fronts, with heavy fighting in the besieged port city of Mariupol – the site of the war’s greatest suffering. Ukrainian officials say their troops there are fighting the Russians over the Azovstal steel plant, one of the largest in Europe.

The war is now in its fourth week. Overnight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the Kremlin of deliberately creating “a humanitarian catastrophe”, but also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet with him for direct talks.

The UN migration agency says the fighting has displaced nearly 6.5 million people in Ukraine, on top of the 3.2 million refugees who have already fled the country. Ukraine says thousands have died.

Here are some important things to know about the conflict:

In town after town around Ukraine, hospitals, schools and buildings where people sought safety have been attacked.

The Ukrainians announced on Saturday that ten humanitarian corridors have been agreed with the Russians — one from Mariupol, several in the Kiev region and several in the Luhansk region. Humanitarian aid is also planned for the city of Kherson, which is currently under Russian control.

In Mariupol, Ukrainian troops lost control of Azovstal’s main steel plant, which is now damaged and heavily disputed, according to comments from an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister.

“Now there is a fight for Azovstal,” Vadym Denysenko said in television comments on Saturday. “I can say that we have lost this economic giant. One of the largest metallurgical plants in Europe is even being destroyed.” Zelenskyy said in his Friday evening video address to the nation that more than 9,000 people have been able to leave Mariupol in the past day, and a total of more than 180,000 people have been able to flee through humanitarian corridors.

The Russian army reported on Saturday that it had used its latest hypersonic missile in combat for the first time. A spokesman for Russia’s defense ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov, said Kinzhal missiles destroyed an underground warehouse of Ukrainian missiles and aviation munitions in Ukraine’s western Ivano-Frankivsk region.

A 38-hour curfew has been imposed in the southeastern city of Zaporizhia, from 4 p.m. local time Saturday to 6 a.m. Monday. Officials said two rocket attacks on the city’s outskirts a day earlier killed nine people. Local authorities there say they are continuing to evacuate people from areas occupied by Russian troops.

Meanwhile, IN SPACE
Three Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station on Friday and when they floated in it without gravity, they wore bright yellow flight suits with blue accents. Those are the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Later, the cosmonauts were able to talk to relatives on Earth, and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev was asked about the flight suits. He said each crew chooses their own flight suits and “basically we had collected a lot of yellow material, so we had to use it. That’s why we had to wear yellow.” Since the beginning of the war, many people have used the Ukrainian flag and its colors to show solidarity with the country, but it was unclear what message the yellow uniforms were supposed to send.

President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping spoke for nearly two hours on video Friday as the US tries to stop Beijing from providing military or economic aid for the Russian invasion. Biden described the consequences the Chinese would face from the US if they provided military or economic aid in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to go into detail about potential consequences, but a senior administration official said Biden pointed to the economic isolation Russia has faced.

Xi, for his part, urged the US and Russia to negotiate and blamed the US for the crisis. French President Emmanuel Macron called for an immediate ceasefire in a telephone conversation with Putin on Friday. Macron’s office said Putin blamed Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also urged Putin on a ceasefire in a meeting on Friday.

Biden plans to travel to Europe next week for talks with European leaders about the Russian invasion, and will attend an extraordinary NATO summit in Brussels.

The head of the Russian delegation in talks with Ukrainian officials says the parties have moved closer to an agreement on a neutral status for Ukraine – one of the key Russian demands as the offensive continues. Vladimir Medinsky said Friday that the parties have also narrowed their disagreements over the issue of Ukraine dropping its bid to join NATO.

But Mikhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, tweeted: “Our views are unchanged. Armistice, troop withdrawal & strong security guarantees with concrete formulas.”

The UN human rights agency says it has recorded a total of 816 civilian casualties and 1,333 injured since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24, though it reports only counts it can verify. It believes the numbers vastly underestimate the true toll. Ukrainian officials say thousands have been killed.

The country’s attorney general’s office reported on Saturday that a total of 112 children have been killed since the fighting began. More than 140 children have been injured.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, AP journalists have been spreading images of destruction, distress and resistance from across the country.

A soldier standing guard near the site of the attack in Lviv said he heard three explosions in quick succession around 6 a.m. Smoke continued to rise from the site hours later.


The United States and its allies have introduced a slew of sanctions to cripple the Russian economy. Hundreds of international companies have announced they are curtailing operations in Russia, and those that remain are under pressure to back out.

Pope Francis on Friday denounced what he called the “perverse abuse of power” in Russia’s war in Ukraine and called for help for Ukrainians whose identity, history and tradition are under attack. Francis’ comments were some of his strongest yet in asserting Ukraine’s right to exist as a sovereign state.

Aid organizations are stepping up their efforts to deliver relief supplies to civilians affected by the fighting and refugees fleeing Ukraine. The Polish city of Rzeszow, about 100 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, has become a humanitarian center for the region.

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