A Ukrainian official said the nation has regained control of the capital city of Kyiv, while chances appeared better for peace talks ahead.
Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar, in a Facebook post Saturday, said that the "whole Kyiv region is liberated from the invader." Russia did not immediately comment, and CNBC could not independently verify the claim.
In another development, the possibility of peace talks between Ukraine and Russia seemed to advance Saturday. Draft peace treaty documents have moved along far enough for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russia's Vladimir Putin, according to Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia.
That news came as Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed Saturday about 18,000 Russian military forces have been killed since the start of the invasion. At that level, the number of Russian military personnel claimed killed in Ukraine exceeds the high end of an estimate by NATO of 7,000 to 15,000 Russian troops killed.
Russian air power is shifting to southeastern Ukraine, British ministry says
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 U.K. Ministry of Defence 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 defence 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
Ukrainian troops advance cautiously north of Kyiv for fear of boobytraps, AP says
Ukrainian troops moved cautiously to retake territory north of the country's capital on Saturday, using cables to pull the bodies of civilians off streets of one town out of fear that Russian forces may have left them booby-trapped.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that departing Russian troops were creating a "catastrophic" situation for civilians by leaving mines around homes, abandoned equipment and "even the bodies of those killed." His claims could not be independently verified.
Associated Press journalists in Bucha, a suburb northwest of Kyiv, watched as Ukrainian soldiers backed by a column of tanks and other armored vehicles used cables to drag bodies off of a street from a distance. Locals said the dead — the AP counted at least six — were civilians killed without provocation by departing Russian soldiers.
"Those people were just walking and they shot them without any reason. Bang," said a Bucha resident who declined to give his name citing safety reasons. "In the next neighborhood, Stekolka, it was even worse. They would shoot without asking any question."
Ukraine and its Western allies reported mounting evidence of Russia withdrawing its forces from around Kyiv and building its troop strength in eastern Ukraine.
The visible shift did not mean the country faced a reprieve from more than five weeks of war or that the more than 4 million refugees who have fled Ukraine will return soon. Zelenskyy said he expects departed towns to endure missile and rocket strikes from afar and for the battle in the east to be intense.
— Associated Press
Ramadan kicks off in much of Middle East as Russia-Ukraine war sends prices soaring
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan — when the faithful fast from dawn to dusk — began at sunrise in much of the Middle East, where Russia's invasion of Ukraine has sent energy and food prices surging.
The conflict cast a pall over Ramadan, when large gatherings over meals and family celebrations are a tradition. Many in the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia planned to start observing Sunday, and some Shiites in Lebanon, Iran and Iraq were also marking the start of Ramadan a day later.
Muslims follow a lunar calendar and a moon-sighting methodology can lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart.
Muslim-majority nations including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates had declared the month would begin Saturday morning.
Many had hoped for a more cheerful Ramadan after the coronavirus pandemic blocked the world's 2 billion Muslims from many rituals the past two years.
With Russia's invasion of Ukraine, however, millions of people in the Middle East are now wondering where their next meals will come from. The skyrocketing prices are affecting people whose lives were already upended by conflict, displacement and poverty from Lebanon, Iraq and Syria to Sudan and Yemen.
Ukraine and Russia account for a third of global wheat and barley exports, which Middle East countries rely on to feed millions of people who subsist on subsidized bread and bargain noodles. They are also top exporters of other grains and sunflower seed oil used for cooking.
Egypt, the world's largest wheat importer, has received most of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine in recent years. Its currency has now also taken a dive, adding to other pressures driving up prices.
Soaring prices also exacerbated the woes of Lebanese already facing a major economic crisis. Over the past two years, the currency collapsed and the country's middle class was plunged into poverty. The meltdown has also brought on severe shortages in electricity, fuel and medicine.
In the Gaza Strip, few people were shopping Friday in markets usually packed at this time of year. Merchants said Russia's war on Ukraine has sent prices skyrocketing, alongside the usual challenges, putting a damper on the festive atmosphere that Ramadan usually creates.
— Associated Press
Zelenskyy and UK Prime Minister Johnson discuss war, peace negotiations
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss peace negotiations, NBC News reported.
Johnson "congratulated Ukraine's brave armed forces for successfully pushing back Russia's invading army in a number of areas, but recognized the huge challenges that remain and the immense suffering being inflicted on civilians," a Downing Street spokesperson said.
Zelenskyy also updated on the status of peace negotiations and said he welcomed UK involvement in diplomatic talks, according to NBC News. "Both leaders agreed on the importance of continuing to ratchet up sanctions to increase the economic pressure on Putin's war machine, so long as Russian troops remain on Ukrainian territory," the spokesperson said.
— NBC News
Ukraine says it has regained control of Kyiv for first time since start of Russian invasion
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
Peace talks far enough for direct talks between Zelenskyy, Putin, negotiator says
Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said draft peace treaty documents have advanced far enough to allow for direct talks between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, NBC News reported.
The talks would likely take place in Turkey, Arakhamia said during an interview on Ukraine's Rada TV channel, the outlet reported.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "called both us and Vladimir Putin yesterday, and he seemed to confirm for his part that they were ready to organize a meeting in the near future," Arakhamia said, according to NBC News.
Chef Jose Andres: Amid Ukraine's destruction, 'Everybody has a mission'
As celebrity chef Jose Andres helps feed hungry Ukrainians, he said he's not only been struck by the extent of the devastation, but he also has been moved by the determination of the Ukrainian people.
"These Ukrainians are something else," he said Saturday in an interview with CNN. "Everybody has a mission. This is not only the military defending their nation, but everybody is doing something. The women are cooking in the restaurants, making sure that everybody in the shelters is fed. Everybody is finding a way and a reason to serve."
Yet he said people's exhaustion and sorrow is clear, too. He recalled serving meals in Bucha, Ukraine.
"They welcomed us with hugs, with smiles, but you could see in their eyes what they've been going through for more than 30 days," he said.
Andres' nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, has provided meals across the country and the globe in areas struck by natural disasters, humanitarian crises and war. In Ukraine, it has distributed more than 5 million meals so far, or roughly 250,000 meals every day, according to CNN.
Finding food has become a challenge in war-torn parts of Ukraine. In some areas near Kyiv, Andres said little markets have popped up to sell food as Ukrainian forces push out the Russian forces. He said railroads have become crucial, as they bring in food to keep people fed.
— Melissa Repko
For Cubans, Russian sanctions mean struggle to find car parts
For Cubans, sanctions against Russia are creating a new challenge: A struggle to find spare parts to fix aging cars, buses and trucks.
Western sanctions have disrupted flights and made it difficult for Cubans to rebuild engines or fix up thousands of vehicles on the island nation, according to an Associated Press report.
Transportation in Cuba has long been complicated by the U.S. embargo on the island nation's socialist government, which has been in place since the early 1960s. That's made Cuba reliant on other parts of the world, including Russia, to get cars, trucks and buses that ferry around people and cargo — and the parts that keep many of those older vehicles going.
Cuba has about 20,000 old American cars and 80,000 to 100,000 Russian-made Ladas, according to the AP.
William LeoGrande, an expert on Cuba at the American University in Washington, D.C., told the agency that the hard-to-find parts and lack of Russian tourists complicates life for Cubans.
"This just makes life even harder, even if they find ways to work around these sanctions on Russia," he said. "It is going to be more expensive; it is going to be more time consuming, and it is just going to make their economic situation worse."
— Melissa Repko
Humanitarian caravan arrival of 3,500 people from Berdyansk and Melitopol
A humanitarian caravan of 42 buses from Berdyansk and five from Melitopol in an evacuation process organized by the International Red Cross in coordination with the Ukrainian Red Cross arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on April 1, 2022. About 3,500 people were evacuated. The trip started at 9 a.m. local time and ended at 10:40 p.m.
— Getty Images
NY Fed chair Williams says Ukraine war could aggravate inflation
The Federal Reserve could start trimming its balance sheet as soon as next month, New York Fed chair John Williams said on Saturday during an event hosted by Princeton University, Reuters reported.
Inflation at 6.5% is currently the central bank's "greatest challenge," Williams said. He said it could be driven higher by factors including the pandemic, war in Ukraine and labor and supply shortages.
"Uncertainty about the economic outlook remains extraordinarily high, and risks to the inflation outlook are particularly acute," Williams said.
Still, Williams expects rate increases and balance sheet reduction should help bring inflation to about 4% this year.
"These actions should enable us to manage the proverbial soft landing in a way that maintains a sustained strong economy and labor market," Williams said. "Both are well positioned to withstand tighter monetary policy."
Ukrainian photographer, Reuters contributor Maksim Levin killed covering the war
Maksim Levin, a photographer and videographer who was working for a Ukrainian news website and was a long-time contributor to Reuters, was killed while covering Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He leaves behind his wife and four children.
His body was found in a village north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on April 1, the news website LB.ua where he worked said on Saturday.
Levin, born in 1981, was a documentary film maker who had contributed to Reuters' coverage of the country since 2013.
He had been working in the village of Huta Mezhyhirska. There had been heavy shelling in that area.
The prosecutor general's office in Ukraine said Levin was "killed by servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces with two shots from small arms." This could not be independently verified.
John Pullman, Reuters' global managing editor for visuals, said: "We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Maksim Levin, a long-time contributor to Reuters, in Ukraine."
"Maks has provided compelling photos and video from Ukraine to Reuters since 2013. His death is a huge loss to the world of journalism. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."
The following are a some of the incredible photos taken by Maksim Levin over the years.
Editor's note: Some images contain graphic content of wounded and killed Ukrainian soldiers.
Russian forces crack down on protesters in city near Zaporizhzhia power plant
Russian forces cracked down on protesters in Enerhodar, a city in Southern Ukraine that's home to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Energoatom, the state-run company that runs the plant, said in a Telegram post that forces opened fire and used grenades to disperse protesters, injuring at least four people.
Videos circulating on social media of the protest appeared to show several flash grenades being used while residents fled the scene. Gunshots could also be heard, but it was not clear if forces were firing in the air to split up crowds or at protesters.
Ukrainian human rights ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova confirmed the injuries on social media, adding the victims had "severe burns." She said forces opened fire on the residents and some were forcibly detained.
"Such treatment of civilians is a crime against humanity and a military crime," Denisova said.
— Jessica Bursztynsky
Lithuania stops using Russian natural gas, apparent first EU country to do so
Lithuania's energy ministry said the country has completely stopped using Russian natural gas, making it apparently the first European Union nation to halt usage of Gazprom gas since Russia invaded Ukraine.
"Seeking full energy independence from Russian gas, in response to Russia's energy blackmail in Europe and the war in Ukraine, Lithuania has completely abandoned Russian gas," the ministry said in a statement on its website.
The ministry said planned imports of gas from other sources are expected "to be enough for all customers."
"We are the first EU country among Gazprom's supply countries to gain independence from Russian gas supplies, and this is the result of a multi-year coherent energy policy and timely infrastructure decisions," said Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys.
— Dan Mangan
At least 1,325 civilians killed, 2,017 injured in Ukraine, U.N. says
At least 1,325 civilians, including 120 children, have been killed in Ukraine as of April 1, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.
An additional 2,017 people, including 168 children, were injured since Russia began its invasion on the Eastern European nation.
The agency expects the actual figures to be "considerably higher." It's been difficult for officials to determine the extent of injuries and deaths in areas with heavy fighting or that have been taken over by Russian forces.
Earlier in the day, Ukraine's Office of the Prosecutor General said at least 158 children have been killed.
The bulk of the injuries have been caused by the use of explosive weapons with a "wide impact area," such as shelling from heavy artillery and missile and air strikes, the agency said.
— Jessica Bursztynsky
Ukraine grain wagons backing up on western border due to Black Sea port blockage
Wagons carrying Ukraine grain are backing up on railways on the country's western border as a result of the blocking of Black Sea ports during Russia's invasion.
The analyst APK-Inform said railways could need two to three weeks to process the wagons and export them, despite the fact that Ukrainian Railways has opened 12 terminals for grain traders.
"Traders are continuing to search for the possibility of redirecting exports to the EU by rail or via Romanian ports, but the key barriers remain limited bandwidth logistics ability and its high cost," APK-Inform said.
Ukraine, which is one of the world's largest grain exporters, shipped 43 million tons of grain abroad from July until the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.
Analysts say that due to logistical problems caused by the war, Ukraine might only be able to export about 1 million tons of grain in the next three months.
More people have returned to Ukraine than left in past day, Ukrainian official says
More people returned to Ukraine than left over the past day, according to Maxim Kozitsky, head of the Lviv region.
While 14,000 people crossed through Lviv's border, Kozitsky said in a translation of a Facebook post, 19,000 returned to the country over the same period.
Still, more have fled than returned overall. Kozitsky said since February 24, 1.375 million people have departed, while 556,000 have returned since the beginning of the invasion by Russia.
— Lauren Feiner
Ukraine claims nearly 18,000 Russian military dead, thousands of vehicles lost in invasion
Ukraine's defense agency said that around 17,800 Russian military personnel had been killed and several thousand military vehicles have been lost in the invasion of Ukraine.
The grim toll was detailed in an infographic post tweeted by the agency.
In addition to more than 1,770 Russian armored personnel vehicles and more than 1,230 other vehicles, the agency claimed that Russia has lost more than 630 tanks, 317 artillery systems, 143 aircraft, and 134 helicopters since the invasion began on Feb. 24.
The number of Russian military personnel claimed killed in Ukraine exceeds the top end of the March 24 estimate by NATO of 7,000 to 15,000 Russians killed in the invasion. But even the low end of that dated estimate would represent a stunning loss for Russia, which expected a rapid takeover of Ukraine when it invaded Feb. 24, and since then has been badly disabused of that belief.
Russia, whose government has not issued recent military death tolls, lost about 15,000 troops during its war against the Mujahideen in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989.
— Dan Mangan
Russia building up troops in Moldova's breakaway Transnistria enclave, Ukraine warns
Ukraine's military said that Russian troops in Moldova's breakaway Transnistria enclave near its border with the city of Odessa are preparing for possible "hostilities" against Ukraine.
But those claims were denied by both Moldova and Transnistria, a self-declared republic between Moldova and Ukraine that is occupied by Russian forces.
Odessa, located on the Black Sea, is the headquarters of Ukraine's navy.
"We have noted the redeployment of Russian troops and units of the so-called Transnistrian-Moldovan Republic in order to prepare for a demonstration of readiness for the offensive and, possibly, hostilities against Ukraine," Ukraine's defense ministry said in a statement.
But the foreign ministry of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic said in a statement that "military units remain in their permanent deployments," and that "even planned activities" have been minimized to avoid tension with Ukraine.
— Dan Mangan
Ex-ICC prosecutor urges global arrest warrant for Putin
The former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has called for an international arrest warrant to be issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Putin is a war criminal," Carla Del Ponte told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps in an interview published Saturday.
In interviews given to Swiss media to mark the release of her latest book, the Swiss lawyer who oversaw ICC war crimes investigations in Rwanda, Syria and the former Yugoslavia said there were clear war crimes being committed in Ukraine.
She said she was particularly shocked by the use of mass graves in Russia's war on Ukraine, which recalls the worst of the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
"I hoped never to see mass graves again," she told the newspaper Blick. "These dead people have loved ones who don't even know what's become of them. That is unacceptable."
Other war crimes she identified in Ukraine included attacks on civilians, the destruction of civilian buildings and even the demolishing of entire towns.
She said the investigation in Ukraine would be easier than that in Yugoslavia because the country itself had requested an international probe. The current ICC chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, visited Ukraine last month.
If the ICC finds proof of war crimes, she said, "you must go up the chain of command until you reach those who took the decisions."
— Associated Press
At least 158 children in Ukraine have been killed in invasion, Ukrainian prosecutors say
At least 158 children have been killed in Ukraine since Russia began its full-scale invasion on the nation, Ukraine's Office of the Prosecutor General said in a Telegram post. More than 254 children have been injured.
The office said the figures were not final, since it's difficult to confirm reports in areas with heavy fighting, or where Russian forces have seized control.
Institutions have also been affected by the heavy shelling. About 869 educational institutions were damaged by bombing and shelling, with 83 of them completely destroyed, the office said.
— Jessica Bursztynsky
Rescuers evacuate civilians in Irpin
Rescuers evacuate civilians, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the town of Irpin, Kyiv region, Ukraine on April 1, 2022.