A Ukrainian soldier crosses the destroyed bridge in Irpin close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 31, 2022. The more than month-old war has killed thousands and driven more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes including almost 4 million from their country. Image Credit: AP

More than a month into the conflict , more than four million people have fled abroad, thousands have been killed and injured, and Russia's economy has been pummelled by sanctions. Follow the latest developments from the war zone:

US to provide additional $300m in security assistance to Ukraine

The US Department of Defence will provide an additional $300 million in security assistance to Ukraine, to include laser-guided rocket systems, drones, and commercial satellite imagery services.

“This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide new capabilities to Ukraines Armed Forces,” Defence Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

Over 3,000 people 'rescued' from besieged Mariupol: Zelensky

Over 3,000 people have been led to safety from the besieged city of Mariupol, the Ukrainian president said Saturday.

"Today, humanitarian corridors were working in three regions: Donetsk, Lugansk and Zaporizhzhia. We have managed to rescue 6,266 people, including 3,071 people from Mariupol," Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address early Saturday.

It was not immediately clear if they had been evacuated from Mariupol or if they had previously escaped the city on their own and then been taken by bus to Zaporizhzhia to the northwest.

In call with Putin, Erdogan calls for common sense, dialogue - Turkish presidency

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for Russia and Ukraine to act with common sense and maintain dialogue in a call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, his office said on Friday.

Erdogan and Putin also discussed peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials in Istanbul this week. Erdogan said the "positive and constructive" talks had raised hopes for peace, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

"Erdogan, who stated that it was important for the sides to act with common sense and maintain dialogue, noted he wanted to cap off the peace efforts by bringing together Russian President Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy," it added.

Kremlin says Ukraine air strike on Russia will hinder talks

The Kremlin said Friday that a reported Ukrainian airstrike on a fuel depot in western Russia will hinder future peace talks.

"Of course, this is not something that can be perceived as creating comfortable conditions for the continuation of negotiations," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Moscow says progress made in peace talks with Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that some progress had been made at peace talks with Ukraine and that Moscow was preparing its response to Ukrainian proposals.

Speaking at a briefing after talks with his Indian counterparts, Lavrov said that peace talks with Ukraine needed to continue but that Kyiv had shown 'much more understanding' of the situation in Crimea and Donbas and the necessity of its neutral status.

Red Cross teams on way to Mariupol, but without aid

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is sending teams to the besieged port city of Mariupol and is "hopeful" that evacuations of thousands of civilians can begin on Friday, a spokesperson said at a press briefing.

"We have permission to move today and we are en route to Mariupol," ICRC spokesperson Ewan Watson said. "We are hopeful it (the safe passage operation) will commence today." However, the body did not receive permission to take humanitarian aid with the convoy, and it departed without any supplies, he added.

Ukraine made rare cross-border strike: Russia

Russia said two Ukrainian military helicopters crossed the border and attacked an oil-storage facility in the city of Belgorod, causing a large fire early Friday.

Tass quoted Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov as saying the aircraft flew in at low altitude. Eight fuel tanks were burning and authorities said the fire might spread to the others there, Interfax reported. Two workers were reported injured and nearby residents were being evacuated.

Focused on fighting Russian troops on their own territory, Ukrainian forces haven't claimed any strikes on the other side of the border since the start of the war. There was no immediate comment from Kyiv on the Belgorod fire.

Russia has struck numerous fuel and other energy facilities in its attack on Ukraine.

Fuel storage unit on fire in Russian city near Ukrainian border: Governor

A fire broke out at a fuel storage facility in the Russian city of Belgorod located close to the Ukrainian border, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said, two days after the province was rocked by blasts at an arms depot.

Two people were hurt in Friday's fire, Gladkov said on Telegram, and residents of three city streets were being evacuated.

Gladkov said this week that the arms depot explosions were believed to be a result of another fire, although he said the regional authorities were awaiting confirmation from the defence ministry.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for any of the incidents.

Ukrainian generals stripped of military rank

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he has stripped two generals of their military rank.

Zelensky said “something prevented them from determining where their homeland was” and they “violated their military oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian people.”

According to Zelensky , one of the generals had headed internal security at the SBU, the main intelligence agency.

He said the other general had been the SBU head in the Kherson region, the first major city to fall to the Russians.

Zelensky didn’t say anything about the fates of the two generals other than them being stripped of their rank.

Russian forces block buses leaving Mariupol

The Ukrainian government said Russian forces blocked 45 buses that had been sent to evacuate civilians from the besieged port city of Mariupol, and only 631 people were able to get out of the city in private cars.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said late Thursday that 12 Ukrainian buses with humanitarian aid left Melitopol for Mariupol, but the Russian forces stopped the buses and seized the 14 tons of food and medicines.

According to Ukrainian officials, tens of thousands of people have made it out of Mariupol in recent weeks along humanitarian corridors, reducing the prewar population of 430,000 to about 100,000 by last week.

Vereshchuk said about 45,000 Mariupol residents have been forcefully deported to Russia and areas of eastern Ukraine.

Tens of thousands of people have made it out of Mariupol in recent weeks along humanitarian corridors.

Russians leave Chernobyl site as fighting rages elsewhere

Russian troops handed control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant back to the Ukrainians and left the heavily contaminated site early Friday, more than a month after taking it over, Ukrainian authorities said, as fighting raged on the outskirts of Kyiv and other fronts.

Ukraine’s state power company, Energoatom, said the pullout at Chernobyl came after soldiers received “significant doses” of radiation from digging trenches in the forest in the exclusion zone around the closed plant. But there was no independent confirmation of that.

The withdrawal took place amid growing indications the Kremlin is using talk of de-escalation in Ukraine as cover while regrouping, resupplying its forces and redeploying them for a stepped-up offensive in the eastern part of the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian withdrawals from the north and center of the country were just a military tactic and that the forces are building up for new powerful attacks in the southeast.


Key developments in the Russia-Ukraine conflict:

— Heavy fighting rages near Kyiv as Russia appears to regroup

— Kremlin decree says foreign currency can still buy natural gas

— As Russia sees tech brain drain, other nations hope to gain

— Ukraine refugees encouraged to find work as exodus slows

— Ukrainians in US mobilise to help expected refugees