Russia invades Ukraine

By Julia Hollingsworth, Joshua Berlinger, Sana Noor Haq, John Sinnott, Adrienne Vogt, Veronica Rocha and Emma Tucker, CNN

Updated 12:17 a.m. ET, April 3, 2022
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12:22 p.m. ET, April 2, 2022

Russian strikes in Dnipropetrovsk region interrupt rail traffic, regional military governor says

Fom CNN's Olga Voitovych in Lviv and Mariya Knight in Atlanta

The head of the regional military administration of Ukraine's central Dnipropetrovsk region said Russian strikes had interrupted rail traffic and caused a fire.

Valentyn Reznichenko said a rocket hit the railway in Pavlohrad district, forcing suspension of train traffic.

"One rocket hit the railway," he said. "Tracks and electric lines are badly damaged. Train wagons exploded. Train traffic is suspended. Rescuers are putting out the fire."

Reznichenko said no one was killed, according to preliminary information, but a second round hit an open area, causing a fire. One person was injured, he said.

The office of Ukraine's Prosecutor General said a criminal investigation has been opened into the attack.

"According to the investigation, on the afternoon of April 2, 2022, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, ignoring the norms of international humanitarian law, carried out a rocket attack on a civilian transport railway hub and an open area of the city of Pavlohrad," according to a statement on Telegram from the office. "As a result of the airstrike of the Russian invaders, guided missiles damaged railway tracks and freight cars."

There were no military facilities on the territory of the railway hub, the statement added.

1:47 p.m. ET, April 2, 2022

Death toll from Russian strike on regional administrative building in Mykolaiv rises to 36, official says

From CNN's Mariya Knight in Atlanta

Firefighters carry a body from the rubble of a government building hit by a Russian strike in Mykolaiv, Ukraine on March 29.
Firefighters carry a body from the rubble of a government building hit by a Russian strike in Mykolaiv, Ukraine on March 29. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

A total of 36 people were killed in a Russian strike on the office of the regional military governor of Ukraine's southwestern Mykolaiv region on Tuesday, regional military governor Vitalii Kim said Saturday on Telegram.

Kim said his secretary was among the dead. 

Watch footage of the strike here:

12:00 p.m. ET, April 2, 2022

It's 7 p.m. in Kyiv. Catch up here

As the sun sets on Saturday in Ukraine, here's what you need to know.

Evacuation efforts continue: Seven evacuation corridors were scheduled in Ukraine on Saturday, according to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, including the route from the besieged southern port city of Mariupol to the Ukrainian government-held city of Zaporizhzhia. In addition, an International Committee of the Red Cross team left for Mariupol on Saturday.

Turkey has also offered to evacuate people trapped in Mariupol.

More than 6,200 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Friday, Vereshchuk said.

Attacks reported in eastern and central Ukraine: Russian forces targeted a major Ukrainian oil refinery in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk in a series of strikes Saturday morning, according to a spokesperson for the country's military.

At least four people were injured by explosions amid protests against Russian occupation in the central Ukrainian town of Enerhodar, the country's state nuclear power company Energoatom said. 

Additionally, a Luhansk regional official said Russian forces had shelled people evacuating from towns that have seen heavy fighting. And the head of the regional military administration of Ukraine's central Dnipropetrovsk region said Russian strikes had interrupted rail traffic and caused a fire.

Weapons delivery: Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom Andrei Kelin told Russian state news agency TASS that if Britain delivers long-range artillery weapons and anti-ship systems to Ukraine, they would be "legitimate targets" for Russian forces.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak on Saturday called on the US and its allies to deliver heavier weaponry to Ukraine as the Russian military shifts its campaign to focus on the east and south of Ukraine. 

Photojournalist found dead: Ukrainian photojournalist Maksym "Maks" Levin, who worked for a number of major Western news outlets including Reuters and the BBC, was found dead with two gunshot wounds near Kyiv, the office of Ukraine’s attorney general said Saturday. 

11:28 a.m. ET, April 2, 2022

Ukrainian presidential adviser warns days ahead "will not be easy"

From CNN's Nathan Hodge, Hande Atay Alam, and Mariya Knight 

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said heavy fighting is still expected in the east of Ukraine, near Mariupol, and in the country's south.

He warned that the military effort "will not be easy" in those regions. 

"I think we will take back Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, and the south," he said. "But — listen carefully — it will not be easy there."

Arestovych and other senior Ukrainian officials have stepped up calls in recent days for the US and its allies to deliver more heavy weaponry. Speaking during his daily briefing, Arestovych said the main directions of the military over the past day were the Kyiv region, where Ukrainian troops reclaimed more than 30 settlements from Russian control. 

"We seize a lot of equipment that is empty, without fuel, and transfer it to the Armed Forces of Ukraine," he said. "That is, the offensive is going well."

Arestovych — who gives regular briefings on Ukrainian television — also urged people to return to normal life, saying, "In those areas that are liberated from the enemy, that do not pose an immediate threat, and even more so in the cities of Central and Western Ukraine or in the East and Center of Ukraine, where there is no immediate threat, economic recovery is critical to restoring normal social and political life, even psychological life."

9:58 a.m. ET, April 2, 2022

Ukrainian photojournalist killed by Russian forces, according to Ukraine attorney general's office 

From Mariya Knight in Atlanta, Amy Cassidy in London and Eliza Mackintosh in Lviv

Ukrainian photojournalist Maksym Levin in Donetsk region, Ukraine on January 25.
Ukrainian photojournalist Maksym Levin in Donetsk region, Ukraine on January 25. (Stanislav Kozliuk/Reuters)

A Ukrainian photojournalist who worked for a number of major Western news outlets including Reuters and the BBC has been killed by Russian forces near Kyiv, the office of Ukraine’s attorney general said Saturday. 

The body of Maksym (Maks) Levin – who had been capturing the ongoing conflict – was found with two gunshot wounds in the Vyshgorod district which sits just north of the capital, the attorney general’s office said in a Facebook post, citing preliminary reports. 

“According to the preliminary information, the soldiers of the Russian Armed Forces killed the unarmed Maksym Levin with two gunshots,” it claimed. His next of kin have been informed, the office told CNN. 

A residential building destroyed by shelling is seen in Borodyanka, Ukraine, on March 3.
A residential building destroyed by shelling is seen in Borodyanka, Ukraine, on March 3. (Maksym Levin/Reuters)

Photographer Markiian Lyseiko told CNN that he was last in touch with his friend, known as Maks, on March 12, the day before he went missing in a district north of Kyiv, where he had been reporting on the fighting and fleeing civilians.

In their final conversations, Lyseiko said that Levin had asked him to come to the Ukrainian capital so they could cover the war together.  

Lyseiko, who worked alongside Levin since 2014 documenting the war in Donbas, where they embedded with Ukrainian soldiers for weeks at a time, described his friend in an interview with CNN on March 24 as an energetic and tenacious reporter, who often looked like he “had no fear.”

A Ukrainian soldier hides from a helicopter airstrike near Demydiv, Ukraine on March 10.
A Ukrainian soldier hides from a helicopter airstrike near Demydiv, Ukraine on March 10. (Maksym Levin/Reuters)

Since the war broke out eight years ago, Levin wanted to show the world what was happening in Ukraine, especially to Russia, Lyseiko said. 

“The best way to understand Maks is to look at his work,” Lyseiko said. “When you watch Maks’ films or see his photos, you will understand him, without words.”

A criminal investigation is being carried out by the Vyshgorod District prosecutor's office into alleged violations of “laws and customs of war,” the attorney general’s office said, adding that “measures are being taken to establish all circumstances of the crime.”

Levin began working as a photojournalist in 2006, according to his bio on LensCulture, a photography resources website. He worked for Ukrainian news outlet LB.ua and was “well-known” in his field, having collaborated with Reuters, BBC, TRT World and Associated Press, according to the attorney general’s office.

In a statement online, LB.ua said Levin is survived by four sons, a civil partner and elderly parents. LB.ua said that in addition to journalism, Levin worked on dozens of photo and video projects for humanitarian organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UN Women.

In his bio, Levin described himself as a “documentary photographer/videographer, father, human being.”

Ukrainian service members take position at the Vasylkiv Air Base near Kyiv on February 27.
Ukrainian service members take position at the Vasylkiv Air Base near Kyiv on February 27. (Maksym Levin/Reuters)

The Reuters news agency on Saturday said it is “deeply saddened” over Levin's death.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Maksym Levin, a long-time contributor to Reuters, in Ukraine,” John Pullman, Reuters' global managing editor for visuals, said in a statement to CNN.

“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,” Pullman said.

9:56 a.m. ET, April 2, 2022

Russians shelling evacuation convoys in Luhansk, according to regional official

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Lviv

The head of the Luhansk region military administration said 2,700 civilians had evacuated from the region on Saturday, but Russian forces had shelled people evacuating from towns that have seen heavy fighting. 

"It is impossible to negotiate with the 'Orcs,'" Serhiy Haidai said. "The Russians are deliberately hitting during the evacuations. There were incoming shells near the meeting places. Fortunately, everybody is alive."

A number of Ukrainian officials have been referring to Russian forces as "orcs" — the evil, monstrous army in J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings."

Haidai added that several tons of humanitarian aid were delivered for those remaining behind, and police officers had already begun transporting it to bomb shelters.

"Let me remind you that evacuation continues," Haidai said. "Buses are waiting for you every morning."

9:50 a.m. ET, April 2, 2022

Turkey offers to evacuate people from besieged city of Mariupol by boat 

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London and Yusuf Gezer in Istanbul

Turkey has offered to evacuate people trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol by boat, the country's defense minister announced on Saturday.

"We can provide vessel support for evacuations from Mariupol, especially regarding civilians, injured people and Turkish citizens and citizens from other nations," Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters. 

The port city, which lies along the Sea of Azov on Ukraine's southern coastline, has incurred widespread damage from Russian attacks and had its plans to operate safe evacuation routes thwarted until Saturday, according to previous CNN reporting.

The Turkish Defense Ministry conveyed its "request to support the evacuations" to the Russian military attaché in Ankara and the Turkish military attaché in Moscow who passed the message onto the Russian authorities. The Ukrainian military attaché in Ankara also passed the message onto the Ukrainian authorities, according to Akar. 

Turkey hosted the negotiation teams from Russia and Ukraine for talks in Istanbul earlier this week. 

10:23 a.m. ET, April 2, 2022

Ukrainian presidential adviser calls for heavier weaponry from the West as Russia shifts military focus

From CNN staff in Lviv

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak speaks to the press in Istanbul, Turkey on March 29.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak speaks to the press in Istanbul, Turkey on March 29. (Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak on Saturday called on the US and its allies to deliver heavier weaponry to Ukraine as the Russian military shifts its campaign to focus on the east and south of Ukraine

"After the rapid retreat of the Russians from Kyiv and Chernihiv, it is clear that Russia has prioritized another tactic — to move east/south, to control large occupied territories (not only in Donetsk and Luhansk regions) and to gain a strong foothold there," he said. 

The Russian military said the "first stage" of its invasion of Ukraine was complete and that it would withdraw forces from around Kyiv and Chernihiv to concentrate on the Donbas region in the country's east. Russia's announcement of that new phase in part may provide political cover for the Russian military, explaining heavy setbacks in the battles around Kyiv, but Ukrainian officials have also reported a ramping up of military activity and shelling in the Donbas by Russian forces.

Podolyak alluded to the expectation from US and Western officials that Ukraine might need to prepare for partisan warfare in the event of Russian invasion and the fall of the Ukrainian capital. 

"Our partners must finally understand that the 'Afghanization' they want and the long-lasting exhausting conflict for Russia will not happen," Podolyak said. "Russia will leave all Ukrainian territories except the south and east. And will try to dig in there, put in air defense and sharply reduce the loss of its equipment and personnel."

The US, the UK and other NATO allies provided anti-tank weapons and man-portable air defenses. Podolyak said Ukraine needed heavier weaponry. 

"'Afghanization' is when there is a strong guerrilla resistance across the country that inflicts heavy losses on the aggressor for many months or even years and thus significantly weakens the power of the occupier's army," he said. "Such actions took place during the Soviet Union's attempt to control Afghanistan: Afghan guerrillas destroyed and weakened the Soviet occupiers for years. As a result, weakened Russia as a whole."

Podolyak continued, "Some of our partners believed that something similar could happen in today's Ukraine. The Russians think otherwise. They have established in the east and south and are dictating harsh conditions. So we definitely can't do without heavy weapons if we want to unblock the east and Kherson and send [back] the Russians as far as possible."

8:46 a.m. ET, April 2, 2022

International Red Cross team departs Zaporizhzhia for Mariupol as part of renewed attempt to reach city

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

Evacuees from Mariupol and other nearby towns arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on April 1.
Evacuees from Mariupol and other nearby towns arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on April 1. (Felipe Dana/AP)

An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) team left for Mariupol on Saturday as part of a renewed attempt to facilitate evacuation efforts from the besieged southern city. 

A press officer for the ICRC told CNN Saturday that ICRC team "left Zaporizhzhia earlier this morning for Mariupol."

The ICRC are not able to give further information on the team's current location as it stands, the press officer added. 

On Friday evening, the ICRC announced in a statement that its team of three vehicles and nine personnel failed to reach the city "after arrangements and conditions made it impossible to proceed."