Separatist leader in Ukraine eagerly awaits vote on joining Russia

Sunday Mass at the Saints Peter and Paul Garrison Catholic Church in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on March 27. (Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine has recaptured several villages from Russian forces in a series of counterattacks, including east of Kharkiv and northwest of Mariupol, after Russian missiles hit the western city of Lviv on Saturday.

Here are the latest developments in the war against Ukraine:

Ukrainian counter-attacks: The Kharkiv regional administrator said a number of villages around Malaya Rogan had been taken over by Ukrainian forces. Video verified by CNN shows Ukrainian troops controlling Vilkhivka, one of the settlements about 20 miles from the Russian border. The success of Ukrainian forces around Kharkiv was mirrored further north, near the city of Sumy, where Ukrainian troops liberated a number of settlements, according to geotagged videos verified by CNN. A separate counterattack in the south also led to the liberation of two villages from Russian forces northwest of Mariupol, according to the Zaporizhzhia regional military administration.

Lviv hits: The Russian military on Sunday confirmed strikes on fuel depots in Lviv and outside kyiv on Saturday, saying it had targeted fuel supplies for Ukrainian troops. At least five people were reportedly injured after at least two missiles hit Lviv, a city in western Ukraine that had previously been spared the worst of Russia’s brutal assaults.

Biden’s speech: The US president said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power” during a speech in Poland on Saturday. The White House followed suit, saying it was not a direct call for regime change. Biden is now back in DC.

Zelensky asks for more help: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his appeal to international partners for stronger military assistance, saying his country only asked for 1% of NATO’s tanks and planes. In a video message posted on social media on Saturday, Zelensky said the need to strengthen common security in Europe came up during his two conversations with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Red Cross eviction requests: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has categorically denied Ukrainian allegations that it has opened an office in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and thus facilitates the deportation of Ukrainian citizens to Russia. The ICRC, which usually keeps a low-key public profile, released the statement following what it called “false reports circulating online” that it was helping Russia move tens of thousands of people out of the country.

Evacuations: More than 5,200 people escaped through humanitarian corridors on Saturday, according to Ukrainian officials. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s president’s office, said two seriously injured children and an infant with pneumonia were among 4,331 residents who fled the besieged city of Mariupol, reaching the city of Zaporizhzhia in the southeast of the country. The evacuations came as Ukrainian authorities reported on Saturday that convoys of buses were being detained by Russian forces, part of what they called a pressure campaign to force some residents into Russia.

City captured: Ukraine’s president also said Russia would not “subdue” Slavutych after Russian forces entered the city on Saturday after days of fighting. The town was built to house workers from the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Hundreds of residents gathered in its main square to protest against the arrival of the troops. Russian forces briefly detained the city’s mayor but eventually released him, according to a statement from Ukrainian political party Sluha Narodu.

CNN’s Julia Kesaieva, Nathan Hodge, Paul P. Murphy, Tim Lister, Josh Pennington, Olena Mankovska and Hira Humayun contributed to this post.

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