Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Most animals in a shelter near Kyiv have died due to Russia’s invasion, NGO says

Most of the animals kept in a shelter near Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv have died as a result of Russia’s invasion, according to animal rights advocacy group UAnimals.

The NGO said in an online post that of the 485 animals housed in the shelter in Borodyanka, a settlement northwest of Kyiv, only 150 have survived.

Volunteers have been able to access the animal shelter for the first time since the early days of Russia’s invasion, they added, thanking those involved in the rescue operation.

“The animals are exhausted and in serious condition,” UAnimals said in a statement posted on Facebook, according to a translation.

“From the very beginning of the war, the animals were abandoned, without food or water. Due to the occupation, it was extremely difficult to get there.”

—Sam Meredith

Hungarians head to polls in the shadow of war in Ukraine

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, leaves a booth after marking his ballot at a polling station in Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday, April 3, 2022.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Polls opened across Hungary early Sunday as voters in the Central European country faced a choice: take a chance on a diverse, Western-looking coalition of opposition parties, or grant nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban a renewed mandate with a fourth consecutive term in office.

The contest is expected to be the closest since Orban took power in 2010, thanks to Hungary’s six main opposition parties putting aside ideological differences to form a united front against his right-wing Fidesz party.

Recent polls suggest a tight race but give Fidesz a slight lead, making it likely that undecided voters will determine the victor in Sunday’s vote.

—Associated Press

Black smoke seen billowing into Odesa sky following a series of loud explosions

Images show thick black smoke covering the skies of Odesa, a port city on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, shortly after missiles hit the area.

A woman seen walking in Ukraine’s southern port city of Odesa as smoke fills the sky following a series of loud explosions.

Bulent Kilic | dpa | Getty Images

Air strikes rocked Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea port Odessa early Sunday morning, according to an interior ministry official, after Kyiv had warned that Russia was trying to consolidate its troops in the south.

Bulent Kilic | dpa | Getty Images

Journalists and residents look on as smoke fills the Odesa sky.

Bulent Kilic | dpa | Getty Images

—Sam Meredith; Getty Images

Evacuation attempts to get people out of the besieged city of Mariupol to continue

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said work will continue on Sunday to evacuate people from the besieged port city of Mariupol.

“Seven buses will try to get closer to Mariupol, accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Vereshchuk said in an online video posting, Reuters reported.

Vereshchuk reportedly said 17 buses were prepared to evacuate people from Mariupol and Berdyansk.

A Red Cross convoy of humanitarian workers turned around on Friday after saying it had become impossible to proceed with its mission to facilitate the safe passage of civilians.

—Sam Meredith

Missiles hit Ukraine’s southern port city of Odesa

Smoke rises after an attack by Russian forces in Odessa, on April 3, 2022.

Bulent Kilic | dpa | Getty Images

A series of explosions have been heard in Ukraine’s strategically important port city of Odesa, with the city council reporting a missile attack on an infrastructure facility.

“The enemy launched a missile attack on Odessa,” Petro Obukhov, a member of the Odesa city council, said via Facebook. “One of the goals was an infrastructure facility. We will not forget or forgive anything.”

It comes after multiple journalists reported smoke billowing into the sky on the Black Sea coast following a series of loud explosions in the early hours of Sunday. CNBC has not been able to independently verify this information.

Washington Post Correspondent Isabelle Khurshudyan, who is based in Odesa, said via Twitter: “Loud explosions in downtown Odessa right now. My hotel room windows just shook. Not clear what that was.”

Separately, ITV Correspondent Richard Gaisford reported that smoke was billowing into the sky above Odesa following a series of explosions.

—Sam Meredith

Russian forces targeting Ukraine’s east and south, Zelenskyy warns

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses the members of Dutch parliament via video link, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 31, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Russian forces are seeking to capture areas in the east and south of the country.

“What is the goal of Russian troops? They want to capture both Donbas and the south of Ukraine. What is our goal? Protect us, our freedom, our land and our people,” Zelenskyy said in his latest address.

He said that while Ukrainian forces had regained control over communities in Kyiv and Chernihiv, Russian forces had reserves to increase pressure in the east.

“We are strengthening our defenses in the eastern direction and in Donbas,” Zelenskky said.

—Sam Meredith

Russian air power is shifting to southeastern Ukraine, British ministry says

A Ukrainian soldier walks past the remains of a downed Russian helicopter near Kharkiv on March 31, 2022.

Chris McGrath | Getty Images

Russian air activity has increased over southeastern Ukraine in the past week as invading forces shift their efforts to that part of the country, the UK Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence update.

However, Ukrainian anti-air capabilities still pose a “significant” challenge to Russian warplanes and helicopters, which have been unable to locate and destroy Ukrainian air defense units, the ministry said Friday night.

“Russia’s inability to find and destroy air defense systems has seriously hampered their efforts to gain broad control of the air,” the ministry said, “which in turn has significantly affected their ability to support the advance of their ground forces on a number of fronts .”

The southeastern part of Ukraine would include the port city of Mariupol, which has been largely destroyed by Russian siege.

Russian ground forces attacking in the north have been pushed back from the capital Kyiv over the last week.

—Ted Kemp

Ukraine says it has regained control of Kyiv for first time since start of Russian invasion

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov visits positions of Ukrainian service members, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, outside of Kyiv, Ukraine March 25, 2022.

Ukrainian Defense Ministry | Reuters

Ukraine said it has regained control of Kyiv for the first time since the start of the Russian invasion.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar wrote that the “whole Kyiv region is liberated from the invader.” Reuters reported that there was no immediate Russian comment on the claim, which could not be independently verified.

Russia has left behind heavy damage, wrecked tanks, destroyed buildings and dead bodies, even as it withdraws, according to the Reuters report. Russia has described the retreat as a symbolic effort that’s part of peace talks.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a morning video address on Saturday that dangers remain, even as Russian forces leave parts of the country. He said some withdrawing troops were laying mines or booby traps. CNBC has not been able to independently verify this report.

—Melissa Repko

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