- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 2, 2022

Ukrainian troops regained control over Kyiv and the surrounding region on Saturday, according to a senior Ukrainian defense official, as Russian troops pulled back from the capital. 

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said the Ukrainian forces have “liberated” Kyiv from “the invader” after Ukrainian President Volodymyr noted a “slow but noticeable” withdrawal of Russian troops in northern regions of the country.

But Mr. Zelenskyy warned of a long road ahead before the region returns to normal and that Russian rocket strikes in the region remain a concern.

“We are moving forward. Moving carefully,” Mr. Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Friday. “And everyone who returns to this area must also be very careful! It is still impossible to return to normal life as it was.”

“Even in the areas we return after the fighting,” he said. “You will have to wait. Wait for our land to be cleared. Wait until you can be assured that new shelling is impossible.”

And the region is still facing constant reminders of the toll that the war has taken.

On Friday, prominent Ukrainian photojournalist Maks Levin was found dead in a village north of Kyiv, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office announced.

The prosecutor general’s office alleges Mr. Levin, who had been missing since last month, was shot by Russian soldiers and said an investigation is underway.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, 765 residents of Mariupol, were evacuated by private vehicles on Saturday, according to Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

The city in Ukraine’s southeast on the Sea of Azov has faced the brunt of Russia’s attacks since the start of the war more than a month ago. Control of the city gives Russia a land bridge to Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

On Friday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it would not attempt to access the city and begin evacuating residents as planned because its staff had not received assurances that the route was safe. City officials said Russian forces blocked access.

Approximately 100,000 people are believed to remain in Mariupol where they face severe shortages of food, water, and medicine.

— This story includes wire reporting.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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