Town surrounding Kyiv have been recaptured from Russian troops, a Ukrainian defense official said Saturday. "Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel and the whole Kyiv region were liberated from the invader!" Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar posted on an official Facebook page, NBC News reports. Russia had said it planned to de-escalate in the region, per CNN. US officials said Russia has altered its strategy and will try to seize regions in eastern Ukraine by early May. Other developments include:
- Negotiations: A draft of a peace treaty is far enough along that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin could meet anytime to consider it, a Ukrainian negotiator said. David Arakhamia said in a TV interview that talks probably would be held in Turkey, NBC News reports.
- Destruction: As Ukrainian troops move back into areas held by Russians, they're encountering minefields and widespread destruction. "Complete catastrophe is left after them," Zelensky said. Residents must wait till the areas are cleared of hazards before moving back in, he said. Mines have been planted "in houses, on equipment, even on dead bodies," Zelensky said. "There are a lot of trip wires, a lot of other dangers." In one town, Ukrainian troops are pulling the bodies of civilians off streets with cables, per the AP, in case they've been booby-trapped.
- Atrocity accusations: In the streets of Bucha, an adviser to Zelensky said, people in civilian clothes were found shot to death with their hands tied. "These people were not in the military. They had no weapons. They posed no threat," Mykhailo Podolyak said, per the New York Times.
- A Russian backlash: Politicians and commentators on state TV spoke out against their military's de-escalation and partial withdrawals, per the Washington Post. One anchor said, "Any negotiation with the Nazis until the boot is on their throat is weakness." Referring to Zelensky, Vladimir Solovyov added, "You shouldn't shake hands with this creep."
- Lithuania's action: The first EU nation is ceasing to import natural gas from Russia. The small nation's boycott won't have a significant effect on Russia but still sets a precedent, one analyst said. “If we can do it, the rest of Europe can do it too,” President Gitanas Nauseda posted Saturday on Twitter.
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