Key events

A top Ukrainian cleric from a church with alleged Moscow ties was sentenced to house arrest on Saturday after a hearing into whether he glorified invading Russian forces and stoked religious divisions, the church said.

Kyiv is cracking down on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) on the grounds it is pro-Russian and collaborating with Moscow, a charge the church denies.

In a statement, the UOC said a Kyiv court also ordered Metropolitan Pavlo to wear an electronic bracelet. The Interfax Ukraine and Ukrinform news agencies said Pavlo had been given 60 days of house arrest.

“I haven’t done anything. I believe this is a political order,” Pavlo told reporters after the ruling.

Russia’s TASS state news agency said the court ordered Pavlo to live in a village some 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Kyiv. Pavlo said the house was not fit for inhabitation.

“There is nothing to sleep on, no heat and no light. There is no kitchen, no spoon. But it’s okay, I’ll endure it all,” he said.

Russia’s war against Ukraine has claimed the lives of 262 Ukrainian athletes and destroyed 363 sports facilities, the country’s sports minister, Vadym Huttsait, said on Saturday.

Meeting the visiting president of the International Federation of Gymnastics, Morinari Watanabe, Huttsait said no athletes from Russia should be allowed at the Olympics or other sports competitions.

“They all support this war and attend events held in support of this war,” Huttsait said, according to a transcript on president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s website.

The International Olympic Committee has recommended the gradual return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competition as neutrals. It has not decided on their participation in the 2024 Paris Olympics.


Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine. We’ll be bringing you the latest developments as they happen.

Our top story this morning:

Russia assumed charge of the UN security council on Saturday – causing fury inside Ukraine with its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, labelling the situation “absurd and destructive … It’s hard to imagine anything that proves more the total bankruptcy of such institutions.”

In his daily video address, Zelenskiy pointed out that Russian shelling had killed a five-month-old boy on Friday, and said it was time for a general overhaul of global institutions.

Earlier, a top Ukrainian official has criticised the “symbolic blow” of Russia assuming the rotating presidency. Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, wrote: “It’s not just a shame. It is another symbolic blow to the rules-based system of international relations.”

The Kremlin has said it will “exercise all its rights” in the role.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, will chair the meeting when Russia assumes the council presidency. “As of 1 April, they’re taking the level of absurdity to a new level,” said Sergiy Kyslytsya, Kyiv’s permanent representative.

There’s more to come on this story. In the meantime here are the key recent developments:

  • An intelligence update from the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) says the performance of the Russian chief of the general staff, General Valery Gerasimov, is “pushing the limits of how far Russia’s political leadership will tolerate failure”. It adds: “Gerasimov’s tenure has been characterised by an effort to launch a general winter offensive with the aim of extending Russian control over the whole of the Donbas region. Eighty days on, it is increasingly apparent that this project has failed.”

  • Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, has promised to increase the supply of munitions to Russian forces during a visit to the headquarters of Moscow’s troops fighting in Ukraine, according to footage published by the defence ministry.

  • The International Monetary Fund’s executive board has approved a four-year $15.6bn loan programme for Ukraine, part of a global $115bn package of economic support. The decision clears the way for an immediate disbursement of about $2.7bn to Kyiv, and requires Ukraine to carry out ambitious reforms, especially in the energy sector, the fund has said.

  • The top US general, Mark Milley, has said Ukraine is unlikely to expel all Russian troops from its territory this year, the Kyiv Independent reports, citing an interview with Defense One. Milley said: “I don’t think it’s likely to be done in the near-term for this year.”

  • At least five people, including a baby, have been killed in Ukraine in the past 24 hours, according to the Kyiv Independent.

  • Prosecutors have asked a court to put the abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery, Metropolitan Pavel, under house arrest. He is accused of supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and inciting religious hatred. Pavel denies wrongdoing.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote online that he had talks with France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, to discuss “defence interaction” and “further steps to implement #PeaceFormula”.

  • Russia has lost at least six Zoopark-1M counter-battery radar and will struggle to regenerate them because of sanctions, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said. The MoD added: “Regenerating counter-battery radar fleets is likely a key priority for both sides, but Russia will likely struggle because the systems rely on supplies of high-tech electronics which have been disrupted by sanctions.”

  • Vladimir Putin has signed off on a new Russian foreign policy strategy aimed at curtailing western “dominance” and identifying China and India as key partners for the future. The document cements the deep cold war-style rupture between Russia and the west over Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

  • North Korea’s Kim Yo-jong, the sister of leader Kim Jong-un, has accused Ukraine of having nuclear ambitions, state media KCNA has reported – basing her assertion on an online petition with fewer than 1,000 signatures.

  • Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president, said he had intensified talks with Russia about deploying nuclear weapons in Belarus, alleging there were plans for neighbouring Poland to invade. There is no evidence Poland is planning to invade.

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