kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, has been liberated from Russian forces, authorities say

The Ukrainian capital, kyiv, has been “liberated” from Russian forces, according to Ukrainian authorities.

The country’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said in a Facebook post on Saturday that Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel and “the whole Kyiv region have been liberated from the invader”.

CNN could not immediately verify that the entire Kyiv region had been cleared of Russian troops by Ukrainian forces, but the Ukrainian army in recent days has regained control of the suburbs around the capital, which has remained under government control.

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The Russian military said it was “defusing” around kyiv.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said heavy fighting is still expected in eastern Ukraine, near Mariupol, and in the south of the country.

A Ukrainian serviceman looks back as his comrades climb onto a combat vehicle outside kyiv. Credit: Vadim Ghirda/PA

He warned that the military effort “will not be easy” in these regions.

“I think we will take over Mariupol, eastern Ukraine and the south,” he said.

“But – listen carefully – it won’t be easy there.”

Arestovitch and other top Ukrainian officials have stepped up calls in recent days for the United States and its allies to deliver more heavy weapons.

Civilians cheer with a Ukrainian serviceman as a convoy of military and aid vehicles arrives in the formerly Russian-occupied suburb of Bucha in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Civilians cheer with a Ukrainian serviceman as a convoy of military and aid vehicles arrives in the formerly Russian-occupied suburb of Bucha in Kyiv, Ukraine. Credit: Vadim Ghirda/PA
Ukrainian soldiers inspect trenches used by Russian soldiers during the occupation of villages on the outskirts of kyiv.
Ukrainian soldiers inspect trenches used by Russian soldiers during the occupation of villages on the outskirts of kyiv. Credit: Rodrigue Abd/PA

Speaking at his daily briefing, Arestovich said the main directions of the military over the past day were the kyiv region, where Ukrainian troops recaptured more than 30 settlements from Russian control.

“We are seizing a lot of empty equipment, without fuel, and transferring it to the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” he said. “That is to say, the offense is going well.”

Arestovych – who gives regular briefings on Ukrainian television – also urged people to return to normal life, saying: “In areas that are liberated from the enemy, which do not pose an immediate threat, and even more so in towns and cities in western Ukraine or eastern and central Ukraine, where there is no immediate threat, economic recovery is essential to restore social and political life normal, even a psychological life.

One of the many buildings destroyed by shelling in Irpin
One of the many buildings destroyed by shelling in Irpin Credit: Maca Vojtech Darvik/PA

But President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned his people to wait to return to normal life, with Russian forces creating ‘complete disaster’ outside the capital as they leave mines ‘all over the territory’, even around houses and corpses.

“They are mining the whole territory. These are mining houses, mining equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address to the nation. “There are a lot of trip wires, a lot of other dangers.”

He urged residents to wait until they were sure the mines had been cleared and the danger of shelling had passed.

Photojournalist killed

A Ukrainian photojournalist who worked for several major Western media outlets, including Reuters and the BBC, was killed by Russian forces near kyiv, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said on Saturday.

The body of Maksym (Maks) Levin – who was capturing the ongoing conflict – was found with two gunshot wounds in Vyshgorod district, located just north of the capital, the attorney general’s office said in a Facebook post. , citing preliminary reports.

“According to preliminary information, soldiers of the Russian armed forces killed an unarmed Maksym Levin with two shots,” he said. His next of kin have been notified, the office told CNN.

Ukrainian photojournalist Maksym Levin poses for a photo in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on January 12, 2018.
Ukrainian photojournalist Maksym Levin poses for a photo in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on January 12, 2018. Credit: Inna Varenytsia/PA

Photographer Markiian Lyseiko told CNN he was last in contact with his friend, known as Maks, on March 12, the day before he disappeared in a district north of kyiv, where he was reported on the fighting and fleeing civilians.

In their last conversations, Lyseiko said Levin asked her to come to the Ukrainian capital so they could cover the war together.

Lyseiko, who has worked alongside Levin since 2014 documenting the war in Donbass, where they embedded Ukrainian soldiers for weeks, described his friend in a March 24 CNN interview as an energetic and tenacious reporter, who often sounded like he “wasn’t afraid.

Christi C. Elwood