Russia-Ukraine live news: Zelenskyy braces for ‘hard battle’

  • In the Ukrainian city of Barkinkove, just west of Kramatorsk where a missile hit a train station packed with evacuees on Friday, volunteers are arming themselves to join the frontline against Russian troops expected to regroup in eastern Ukraine.
  • Death toll from train station bombing in Kramatorsk has risen to 52. Russia denies responsibility, saying missiles responsible for the attack were only used by Ukraine’s military.
  • Ukraine says more than 4,500 people have been evacuated from its cities through humanitarian corridors.
  • YouTube has blocked Duma TV that broadcasts from Russia’s lower house of parliament.
INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 45
(Al Jazeera)

Here are the latest updates:

Third prisoner swap under way

Kyiv says 26 Ukrainians are returning home following a prisoner exchange with Russia.

“On the order of President Zelenskyy, the third prisoner exchange took place. Twelve of our servicemen are returning home, including one female officer,” deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk says on Telegram.

Fourteen civilians including nine women were also on their way home, she added.

Zelenskyy: ‘It is important to stop this war’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he is committed to pressing for peace as he renewed his plea for countries to send more weapons ahead of an expected surge in fighting in the country’s east.

He made the comments in an interview with The Associated Press a day after at least 52 people were killed in a strike on a train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk.

“No one wants to negotiate with a person or people who tortured this nation. It’s all understandable. And as a man, as a father, I understand this very well,” Zelenskyy said. But “we don’t want to lose opportunities, if we have them, for a diplomatic solution”.

“We have to fight, but fight for life. You can’t fight for dust when there is nothing and no people. That’s why it is important to stop this war,” he said.

Displaced Ukrainian football club opens tour

Ukrainian football club, Shakhtar Donetsk, has opened a series of charity games on a government-backed “Global Tour for Peace” wearing the names of heavily bombarded cities on its jerseys.

The tour by the club aims to raise money for Ukraine’s military in the war against Russia, and also help Ukrainian refugees displaced by the war.

Its first game on Saturday was a 1-0 loss to Greek league leader Olympiakos.

Football clubs around Europe have been offering to play games against Ukrainian clubs and host youth players after Russia’s invasion in February.

Ukraine football club
The match between Olympiakos and Shakhtar Donetsk was held at Karaiskaki Stadium in Piraeus, Greece [Louiza Vradi/Reuters]

Kyiv suburb’s residents line up for food

Civilians remaining in Bucha are lining up for food donated by the local church in the battered Kyiv suburb where Ukrainian forces and journalists reported evidence of war crimes after Russian soldiers withdrew.

Volunteer Petro Denysyuk told The Associated Press that he and fellow church friends started providing food, with a wide array of basic foodstuffs and hot meals.

“We have gathered together with the youth from our church and prepared food for the needy,” Denysyuk said. “We prepared pilaf, boiled eggs, prepared meat, sausages, noodles.”

Russia’s ‘imperial illusions’ must be defeated: Ukraine

Ukranian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak says President Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin will not meet until after the country defeated Russia in the east, which would bolster its negotiating position.

“We are paying a very high price. But Russia must get rid of its imperial illusions,” he said, according to the Interfax Ukraine news agency.

Ukrainian officials have urged civilians in the east of the country to flee. On Friday, officials said more than 50 people were killed in a missile strike on a train station in city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, where thousands of people had gathered to evacuate.

‘Never bullied again’, says UK PM, offering weaponry

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered financial and military support during a surprise visit to Ukraine.

At a meeting in Kyiv, Johnson told President Zelenskyy that Britain would provide armoured vehicles and anti-ship missile systems, along with additional support for World Bank loans.

The support aims to ensure “Ukraine can never be bullied again, never will be blackmailed again, never will be threatened in the same way again,” Johnson said.

‘Hard battle’ coming, Ukraine president warns

Ukraine is ready for a tough battle with Russian forces amassing in the east of the country, Zelenskyy says.

The Ukrainian leader met Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Kyiv, warning in a joint news conference while the threat to the capital had receded, it was rising in the east.

“This will be a hard battle, we believe in this fight and our victory. We are ready to simultaneously fight and look for diplomatic ways to put an end to this war,” Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine says 4,532 people evacuated from cities

A total of 4,532 people have been evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Saturday, fewer than the 6,665 who escaped on Friday, according to a senior official.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, made the announcement in an online post.

Five killed in east Ukraine shelling: Donetsk governor

Russian shelling has killed five civilians and wounded five others in two east Ukrainian cities, the local governor has said on Telegram.

“Today, five people were killed after Russian shelling in the region of Donetsk,” the Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko posted on Telegram. Four of them died in the city of Vuhledar, and one in the town of Novomykhalivka, he added.

YouTube blocks Russian parliament channel

YouTube has blocked Duma TV which broadcasts from Russia’s lower house of parliament, drawing an angry response from officials who said the world’s most popular streaming service could face restrictions in response.

On Saturday, a message on YouTube said the Duma channel had been “terminated for a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service”.

YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc’s GOOGL.O, has been under pressure from Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor and officials were quick to respond.

Find the news updates from April 9 here.