Ukraine said Saturday it is in control of the capital city of Kyiv and its surrounding areas, as Russian troops have withdrawn.
U.S. and other Western defense and intelligence officials have warned that Moscow is repositioning its forces in preparation for what the Kremlin has said will be a renewed focus on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.
Reuters reports that Ukraine has “retaken more than 30 towns and villages around Kyiv.”
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that what Russia has left behind in Kyiv and its nearby areas is a “complete disaster,” a territory with mined land, houses and equipment. The president claimed even dead bodies have been mined.
Zelenskyy said Saturday in his nightly address, “We should not cherish empty hopes that” the Russians “will simply leave our land.” He said peace could only be gained through “hard battles,” “negotiations” and “daily vigorous work.”
Reports from Odesa, on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, say a Russian missile strike on an Odesa oil refinery has destroyed the facility. The Russian defense ministry said in a statement, “This morning, high-precision sea and air-based missiles destroyed an oil refinery and three storage facilities for fuel and lubricants near the city of Odessa, from which fuel was supplied to a group of Ukrainian troops.”
British military intelligence said Sunday that reported mines in the Black Sea are a serious risk to maritime activity. The agency said that the origin of the mines is disputed and unclear but is likely to be due to Russian military activity.
Ukraine’s chief negotiator has indicated, however, that talks between Zelenskyy and Russian President Valdimir Puttin could be possible after “Moscow’s negotiators informally agreed to most of a draft proposal discussed during face-to-face talks in Istanbul” last week, according to an Associated Press report.
Sunday, in the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol, residents continue to wait for an International Committee of the Red Cross humanitarian convoy that is designed to evacuate residents and bring humanitarian aid. The Associated Press reports that as many as 100,000 people are thought trapped in the city that has been surrounded by Russian troops for more than a month.
Pope Francis said Saturday in an address in Malta, without directly mentioning Ukraine or Puttin: “We had thought that invasions of other countries, savage street fighting and atomic threats were grim memories of a distant past.” The pope said, “However, the icy winds of war, which bring only death, destruction and hatred in their wake, have swept down powerfully upon the lives of many people and affected us all.”