Live Updates | United Kingdom: Mariupol resistance hampers Russian plans | Business and finance

LONDON — Britain’s Ministry of Defense says the continued siege of Mariupol is pinning down Russian forces and slowing its advance ahead of a planned major offensive in eastern Ukraine.

In a daily intelligence update, the British Army says “concerted Ukrainian resistance has strained Russian forces and diverted men and materiel, slowing Russia’s advance elsewhere.”

The Sea port city of Azov has been devastated in weeks of Russian strikes. Britain says “large areas of infrastructure have been destroyed” and that there are “significant” civilian casualties.

Britain accuses Russia of using similar all-out war tactics against civilian areas it has deployed in Chechnya and Syria, despite Russian claims at the start of its invasion “that Russia would not hit cities or threaten the Ukrainian people”.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR:

— ‘No surrender’: Ukrainians fight at Mariupol steelworks

— Russia renews its strikes on the Ukrainian capital and strikes other cities

— Mother and grandmother mourn 15-year-old boy killed in Kharkiv bombing

Follow all AP stories about Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

KYIV, Ukraine – Multiple explosions believed to be caused by missiles hit the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, witnesses said.

Lviv and the rest of western Ukraine have been less affected by the fighting than other parts of the country and are considered a relatively safe haven.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on Facebook that five missiles hit the city and emergency services were responding to the blasts. He said more details would follow.

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LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian troops in southern Ukraine had committed torture and kidnappings, and he called on the world on Sunday to take action.

“Torture chambers are being built there,” Zelenskyy said in an evening address to the nation. “They are kidnapping local government officials and anyone considered visible to local communities.”

Zelenskyy said humanitarian aid was stolen, creating famine.

In the occupied parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, he said, the Russians are creating breakaway states and introducing the Russian currency, the rouble. Intensified Russian shelling of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, has killed 18 people and injured 106 in the past four days alone, Zelenskyy said.

“This is nothing but deliberate terror. Mortars, artillery against ordinary residential neighborhoods, against ordinary civilians,” he said.

He said a planned Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine “will begin in the near future”.

Zelensky again called for increased sanctions against Russia, including its entire banking sector and oil industry. “Everyone in Europe and America already sees Russia openly using energy to destabilize Western societies,” Zelenskyy said. “All of this requires greater speed on the part of Western countries in preparing a powerful new sanctions package.”

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WASHINGTON — Ukraine’s foreign minister describes the situation in Mariupol as dire and heartbreaking and says Russia’s continued attacks could constitute a “red line” that would end all efforts to achieve peace through negotiation.

Dmytro Kuleba told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the remaining Ukrainian military personnel and civilians in the port city are essentially surrounded by Russian forces.

He says the Ukrainians “continue their struggle” but the city effectively no longer exists because of the massive destruction.

Kuleba says his country has held “expert-level” talks with Russia in recent weeks in hopes of reaching a political solution for peace. But citing Mariupol’s importance, he echoed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in saying eliminating Ukrainian forces could be a “red line” stopping peace efforts.

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says he prays this Easter for those living in the “dark shadow” of war, persecution and poverty.

Biden released an Easter message on Sunday in which he says he also prays for peace, freedom, basic dignity and respect for all of God’s children.

Biden hasn’t said what war he has in mind, but the president has been deeply involved in trying to force an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The US President says he is grateful that the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed many people around the world to celebrate by attending religious services and family gatherings in person. It also acknowledges that the holiest day in the Christian calendar “falls on the hearts of those who have lost loved ones and those of us who live in the shadow of war, persecution and poverty.” .

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