(Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin were to visit Kyiv on Sunday to discuss Ukraine’s request for more powerful weapons after two months of combat with invading Russian forces. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced the visit.
* Russian forces are attempting to storm the Azovstal plant in Mariupol by land, backed up by aerial and artillery bombardment, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.
* Eight people died in Russian attacks in Ukraine’s Luhansk region on Saturday, regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai wrote in a post on social media. An unspecified multiple number of civilians were killed in the region on Sunday, Gaidai said.
* Russia has deployed Iskander-M mobile battlefield missile launchers within 60 km (40 miles) of the Ukrainian border, Ukraine’s military said. The mobile system’s two ballistic missiles have a range of up to 500 km (300 miles) and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.
* Russia’s defence ministry said its high-precision missiles struck nine Ukrainian military targets overnight, including four arms depots in the Kharkiv region where artillery weapons were stored.
* Zelenskiy said light would defeat darkness`as Ukrainians marked a bitterly emotional Orthodox Easter overshadowed by war.
* Ukrainian refugees filled churches across central Europe for Orthodox Easter, giving thanks for escaping a Russian invasion but dreaming of a return home.
* Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide, called for the opening of humanitarian corridors in Ukraine where he said “an indescribable human tragedy is unfolding”.
* Pope Francis called for halt to attacks in Ukraine so aid can reach the exhausted population.
* Turkey is ready to give all possible assistance during the negotiation process between Ukraine and Russia, President Tayyip Erdogan told Zelenskiy during a telephone call, the Turkish presidency said.
* United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Ankara before heading to Moscow next week to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and then to Ukraine for talks with Zelenskiy, a U.N. statement said on Saturday.
* “This great holiday gives us hope and an unwavering belief that light will defeat darkness, good will defeat evil, life will defeat death and therefore Ukraine is certain to triumph,” Zelenskiy told Ukrainians in an Easter message from Kyiv’s 1,000-year-old Saint Sophia Cathedral.
* “It’s my first Easter celebration not in Ukraine. It’s sad and my heart hurts because so many people have died. We pray everyday for our people and our children.” Diana Shyndak, a 23-year-old refugee from Kyiv, celebrating the holiday in Berlin.
(Compiled by Frances Kerry)