Ukraine: Scholz and Zelenskyy swear justice for ‘war crimes’ in phone call – live updates | News | DW

  • UK says Russian withdrawal in north reveals attacks on civilians

  • New pro-Russian demonstrations expected in Germany

  • Ukraine calls for strong global response to strike at Kramatorsk railway station

  • According to the UN, the number of Ukrainian refugees reaches 4.5 million

This article was last updated at 11:13 UTC

Zelenskyy and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hold a call

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted that he had spoken with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The two leaders discussed how “all perpetrators of war crimes must be identified and punished”, as well as “anti-Russian sanctions, defense and financial support for Ukraine”, Zelenskyy tweeted.

The German government spokesperson said: “The Chancellor condemned the heinous war crimes committed by the Russian military in Bucha and other places in Ukraine.

The spokesperson added: “The Federal Chancellor and the President of Ukraine also exchanged views on ways to continue
opportunities for additional support to Ukraine and agreed to stay in close contact.”

Pope Francis calls for an Easter truce

Pope Francis has called for an Easter truce in Ukraine after his Palm Sunday service in front of tens of thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis said: “Let an Easter truce begin, but not to rearm and resume the fight, but a truce to achieve peace through real negotiations.

UN: 4.5 million Ukrainian refugees

The UN refugee agency said there were now 4.5 million Ukrainian refugees following the Russian invasion.

About 2.6 million refugees fled first to Poland and more than 686,000 to Romania. UNHCR notes that due to EU Schengen visa waiver rules, “large numbers of people” are likely to have left the first country they fled to.

Two dead and several wounded in a bombardment in the Kharkiv region

Kharkiv Regional Governor Oleh Synyehubov said in a Facebook post that two people were killed and several injured in Russian shelling in the town of Derhachy.

The governor added that Russian forces carried out 66 artillery attacks in several parts of the region.

Synyehubov wrote: “As you can see, the Russian army continues to ‘fight’ with the civilian population, because it has no victories at the front.”

German arms manufacturer offers howitzers to Ukraine

The German government has confirmed a report published in Welt am Sonntag that the arms manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann has offered Ukraine 100 howitzers, an artillery weapon.

Welt am Sonntag reported that Krauss-Maffei Wegmann currently lacks the armament. In stock and had suggested that the German army, known as the Bundeswehr, supply 100 howitzers from its arsenal to kyiv and that the company would deliver new weapons to the army, probably at the end of 2024.

Berlusconi criticizes Putin

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has criticized Russian leader Vladimir Putin for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

In a speech delivered in Rome to members of the Forza Italia party, Berlusconi said: “I will not hide that I am deeply disappointed and saddened by the behavior of Vladimir Putin, who has assumed before the whole world a very heavy responsibility”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at Fiumicino Airport in Rome in July 2019

He added: “War crimes have been committed and Russia cannot deny its responsibility.”

Previously, Berlusconi had avoided using Putin’s name directly when criticizing the Russian leader.

Ukraine has accepted nine humanitarian corridors from Lugansk

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said Sunday that Kyiv had agreed to nine humanitarian corridors to allow people to escape heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine.

On his Telegram channel, Vereshchuk wrote: “All routes of the humanitarian corridors in the Lugansk region will work as long as there is a ceasefire by the occupying Russian troops.”

Russia confirms prisoner swap

Tatiana Moskalova, Russia’s human rights commissioner, said Russia and Ukraine exchanged prisoners on Saturday.

Among the prisoners exchanged were four employees of Rosatom, the national atomic energy company.

In an online post, Moskalova wrote, “Early this morning they landed on Russian soil.”

Dozens of Ukrainians found in grave near kyiv: official

A grave with dozens of Ukrainian civilians was reportedly discovered in the village of Buzova, near the Ukrainian capital, kyiv.

Taras Didych, leader of the Dmytrivka community which includes Buzova, told Ukrainian television that the civilians’ bodies were found in a ditch near a gas station.

The death toll was not yet confirmed.

“Now we are coming back to life, but during the occupation we had our ‘hot spots’, many civilians died,” Didych said on Saturday.

As Russian troops retreat from their attack on the capital and focus their offensive on eastern Ukraine, Buzova’s grave is the latest mass grave to be discovered.

Nine trains ready for evacuations in Lugansk region, governor says

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said trains would be available on Sunday for evacuations from the beleaguered region of eastern Ukraine.

Residents will have a total of nine trains to use for evacuation, Gaidai wrote on Telegram.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk called for residents of Lugansk and other eastern parts of Donetsk and Kharkiv to be evacuated as Russian forces repositioned themselves for an assault.

Ukraine bans all Russian imports

Ukraine announced that it had banned all goods imported from Russia.

“Today we officially announced the complete cessation of trade in goods with the aggressor state,” Economy Minister Yulia Svrydenko said on her Facebook page. “From now on, no products from the Russian Federation may be imported into the territory of our state.”

Trade between the two nations has been largely halted since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

“The enemy’s budget will not receive these funds, which will reduce its potential for financing the war,” Svrydenko added.

Zelenskyy still seeks peace despite possible war crimes

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday he was continuing to push for peace despite Russian attacks on civilians.

Zelenskyy was speaking in an interview with The Associated Press, a day after at least 52 people were killed in a rocket attack at Kramatorsk train station.

“Nobody wants to negotiate with a person or people who have tortured this nation. Everything is understandable. And as a man, as a father, I understand that very well,” the president said.

But “we don’t want to lose opportunities, if we have any, for a diplomatic solution”.

Zelenskyy’s comments come as Russia looks set to start stepping up its attacks in eastern Ukraine.

Zelensky calls for a ban on oil imports

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again called for a ban on oil imports from Russia in his Saturday night video address.

“When tyranny launches aggression against anything that keeps the peace in Europe, immediate action must be taken,” he said.

“The democratic world can definitely give up Russian oil and make it toxic for all other states,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy also thanked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer for their visit to Kyiv on Saturday.

German association advises against boycott of Russian gas

The German chemical industry association (VCI) said a boycott of gas imports from Russia could have “catastrophic consequences for the industry in Germany and the people of our country”.

VCI Vice President Werner Baumann told the German Bild am Sonntag newspaper that Germany would see a “wave of unemployment” as a result of such a decision.

UK. Russia has disproportionately attacked civilians in the north

The UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) said that following Russia’s withdrawal from parts of northern Ukraine, there was evidence that Russian troops were carrying out “disproportionate” attacks on civilians.

“Russia’s departure from northern Ukraine leaves evidence of disproportionate targeting of non-combatants, including the presence of mass graves, the lethal use of hostages as human shields, and the exploitation of civilian infrastructure,” said the MOD in its latest information update.

British military intelligence has also claimed that Russian forces continue to use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Ukraine.

According to the statement, the IEDs were used to “cause casualties, lower morale and restrict the freedom of movement of Ukrainians”.

“Russian forces also continue to attack infrastructure targets that pose a high risk of collateral damage to civilians, including a nitrate acid reservoir in Rubizhne,” the statement added.

Summary of the events of Saturday’s Ukraine-Russia crisis

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

During the visit, Johnson walked with Zelenskyy through the capital. The British leader pledged “unwavering” support for Ukraine, as Zelenskyy called for tougher sanctions on Moscow.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer also visited Ukraine on Saturday and met with Zelenskyy. The Austrian leader visited the kyiv suburb of Bucha, where massacres of civilians took place.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a donors’ conference in Warsaw had raised a total of 9.1 billion euros ($9.9 billion) for the Ukrainian refugees. Von der Leyen attended the event in person, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participated via video link.

Pro-Russian convoys were organized in towns across Germany, with participants speaking out against “Russophobia”.

At a rally in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, the German Chancellor accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of committing “war crimes”. In addition, he pledged to continue supplying Ukraine with weapons.

The comments contradict German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, who told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper that German arms deliveries to kyiv have reached a limit.

Ukraine said a third prisoner swap with Russia was underway.

The Pentagon said thousands of Russian troops were gathered near the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

mm, wd/kb (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

Elna M. Lemons