Russian forces focused their attacks on the east, trying to dislodge any remaining Ukrainian troops in the battered port town of Mariupol.
President Volodymyr Zilenskyy announced that U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken would be visiting the country, along with U.S. Defense secretary Lloyd Austin. This was during a long Saturday night news conference in a Kyiv subway stop. The White House has not yet commented.
Zelenskyy stated that he expected the Americans to deliver results in terms of both arms and security guarantees. He stated that he could not accept gifts or cakes from Americans today and that he was expecting specific items and weapons.
This would be the first visit by high-ranking U.S. officials since Russia invaded Ukraine sixty days ago. In March, Blinken visited Ukraine to meet with its foreign minister. Zelenskyy met with the Vice President Kamala Harir in Munich on February 19.
Meeting was scheduled to take place while Ukrainians and Russians observed Orthodox Easter. This is when faithful celebrate the resurrection Jesus Christ, which is considered the most joyous holiday on the Christian calendar.
Zelenskyy (Jewish) spoke Sunday at the St. Sophia Cathedral and highlighted the allegorical importance of the occasion for a nation that was devastated by almost two months of war.
"The great holiday today gives us great faith and hope that light will triumph over darkness, good over evil, life will triumph over death, and so Ukraine will win!" He said.
The war cast a shadow on celebrations. Rural villages that were ravaged by war approached the occasion with cautious defiance.
"How do I feel? Very nervous. Everybody is nervous," Olena Koptyl stated as she made her Easter bread in Ivanivka's northern village. There, Russian tanks still litter the roads. "The Easter holiday is not a time of joy. I am crying a lot. "We cannot forget what we have done."
Zelenskyy stated earlier that intercepted communications had recorded Russian troops discussing "how to conceal the traces their crimes in Mariupol". He also spoke out about the death of a 3-month-old girl during a Russian missile strike Saturday at Odesa, a Black Sea port.
Zelenskyy stated that the Western support for military equipment had been a great help, but he also stressed the need for more heavy weapons in Ukraine, including long-range air defense systems and warplanes to resist Russian aggression.
According to the Russian military, it had hit 423 targets in Ukraine overnight. These included fortified positions and troops concentrations. Meanwhile, Russian warplanes destroyed 26 sites of military importance, including an explosives plant and several artillery bases.
Sunday's fighting was centered on the eastern Donbas, the area where Ukrainian forces were concentrated and where Moscow-backed separatists had previously controlled some territory. The Russians have been determined to regain control of Ukraine's eastern industrial center, after failing to capture Kyiv.
Russian forces launched new airstrikes against a Mariupol Steel Plant where approximately 1,000 civilians and about 2,000 Ukrainian fighters are sheltering. The Azovstal steel plant where the defenders are hiding is the last area of resistance in the city. This was previously occupied by the Russians.
Mykhailo Podolyak is a Ukrainian presidential advisor who called for a localized Easter truce. He called on Russia to allow civilians out of the plant, and suggested that talks be held to reach an agreement for the Ukrainian soldiers to exit.
Podolyak claimed that the Russian military was attacking it with heavy bombs, artillery, and while accumulating equipment and forces for a direct attack.
Due to its position on the Sea of Azov, Mariupol has been at the center of intense fighting since the beginning of the war. Its capture would remove Ukraine from a crucial port and free up Russian troops to fight elsewhere. Moscow could also establish a land corridor to reach the Crimean Peninsula which it took from Ukraine in 2014.
Mariupol is home to more than 100,000 people, a drop from the prewar population of around 430,000. According to Ukrainian authorities, more than 20,000 civilians were killed.
Satellite images this week revealed what appeared to be mass graves in the towns to the west of Mariupol.
Zelenskyy claimed that the Russians had committed war crimes, including the killing of civilians. He also accused them of setting up "filtration camp" near Mariupol to house people who tried to flee the city. He said that Ukrainians are often sent to Russia or areas under Russian occupation from there. He said that many of them are children.
These claims cannot be independently verified.
Russian forces attacked cities and towns across southern and eastern Ukraine on the eve Orthodox Easter. According to Ukrainian officials, the baby of three months was one of eight victims killed by Russia's cruise missile attack on Odesa.
UNIAN, the Ukrainian news agency, reported that the missile struck a residential area and also killed the infant's grandmother, Valeria Glodan. Zelenskyy said that he would find and punish those responsible.
He said, "The war began when this baby was just one month old." Can you see what's happening? "They are filthy, they have no other words."
Russia has reassembled troops that fought in the Donbas area and north Ukraine previously. Sunday's statement by the British Ministry of Defense stated that Ukrainian forces had repelled numerous attacks in the last week and "inflicted substantial cost to Russian forces."
In an intelligence update, the ministry stated that poor Russian morale and the limited time it takes to reconstitute and re-equip forces from previous offensives could hinder Russian combat effectiveness.
The spiritual leaders of the Orthodox Christians of the world and Roman Catholics called for aid for the Ukrainian people in need.
Ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I, Istanbul, said that a "human tragedy was unfolding." Bartholomew was considered the first Eastern Orthodox patriarch to do so. He cited in particular the "thousands of civilians surrounded in Mariupol", including the elderly and the injured, as well as many children.
Pope Francis spoke from a window overlooking St. Peter's Square and reiterated his call for an Easter truce. He called it "a minimal, tangible sign of peace"
Francis stated, "The attacks must stop, to respond to suffering of the exhausted populace," without naming the aggressor.