Live Updates: As Weapons From West Flow In, Zelensky Says Ukraine Better Able to Mount Defense



Even as heavy artillery, drones, tanks and ammunition pour in, the Ukrainians say Russian forces are probing for weak spots along a 300-mile eastern front. So far, military analysts say, Russia has not made any significant territorial gains since it announced its renewed offensive in the region.

LVIV, Ukraine — On the eve of the most important Christian religious festival of the year, Ukrainians clung to centuries-old Easter traditions in the shadow of a war that has brought devastation and sorrow to much of the country.

At the Greek Catholic Church of the Transfiguration in Lviv’s historic city center, a line of churchgoers stood next to wicker baskets they had brought, covered with embroidered cloths and filled with sausages, smoked hams, Easter breads, butter and cheeses to be blessed by the priest.

At least six people were killed when two cruise missiles struck a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of the Black Sea port city of Odesa on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said. Given the extent of the damage, officials said the number of victims was certain to climb.

“There will be more,” Sergei Nazarov, an aide to Odesa’s mayor, said in a text message.

At least two people were killed when Russian missiles struck residential and military buildings in Odesa, local officials said, and an aide to the president said the toll was at least five dead and 18 wounded. It was the first missile strike on the city since early April, and the assault came one day after a Russian general said that Moscow was intent on controlling all of southern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military claimed on Saturday that it destroyed a Russian command post in the southern region of Kherson, which has been largely under Russian control since the early days of the war.

The intelligence agency of the Ukrainian defense ministry said in a statement that the Russian command center was located near a location of active clashes between the two forces and two high-ranking Russian officers were present at the time of the strike.

After Russia rejected Ukrainian calls for a pause in fighting for the Orthodox Christian Easter period, Ukraine’s military said that curfews would remain in place for traditional vigils held the night before the holy day on Sunday.

“We must understand that the gathering of civilians at a predetermined time of all-night service can be a target for missiles, aircraft and artillery,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said in a statement issued Saturday morning.

Bolstered by a growing arsenal of heavy weapons supplied by Western allies, Ukraine’s military has launched counteroffensives across their country’s northeast and claimed to have driven Russian forces out of several towns and villages.

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency, however, warned on Saturday that Russia was completing efforts to regroup in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region and was probing Ukrainian defenses for weak points before launching a major offensive. It also said that some of the elite Russian fighters who had been engaged in the battle for the southern city of Mariupol are now being dispatched to the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

When a Russian commander said this week that gaining full control of southern Ukraine was one of the Kremlin’s military goals, he noted that doing so would give Russia “yet another point of access” to a little-known and internationally unrecognized breakaway republic known as Transnistria.

The 250-mile sliver of land that largely runs along the eastern bank of the Dniester River is controlled by Moscow-backed separatists who broke away from Moldova, Ukraine’s neighbor to the southwest, in 1992. Here is a closer look at the enclave.

CHISINAU, Moldova — Before war erupted next door, Moldovans had big plans for their country.

But the Russian invasion of Ukraine put Moldova, a former Soviet republic and one of Europe’s poorest nations, in an extremely vulnerable situation, threatening its economic development, straining its society with waves of refugees and evoking existential fears of yet another Russian occupation.

The wider ambitions a Russian general expressed on Friday — to take southern Ukraine all the way to Moldova, Ukraine’s southwest neighbor — reveal larger truths about Moscow’s agenda, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said on Friday.

“This only confirms what I have said many times,” Mr. Zelensky said in his nightly address to the nation. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine was intended only as a beginning, then they want to capture other countries.”

The problems that beset the Russian military in its failed attempt to seize Kyiv are likely to continue into the next phase of the war, according to independent analysts, giving the Ukrainian military a chance to drive back the invading force.

Big militaries fight with tight organization and strict hierarchy, with multiple levels of command ensuring that large forces can move in a coordinated way, but during the current invasion, analysts and U.S. officials have said, the Russian military has abandoned that structure.

Russian authorities opened a criminal case against Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian pro-democracy activist and a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, for spreading “false information” about the war in Ukraine, his lawyer said on Friday, making him one of the most prominent targets to date in the Kremlin’s crackdown on opposition to the war.

Mr. Kara-Murza, 40, who was arrested earlier this month, faces 10 years in prison, according to the official decree opening a case against him that was posted online by his lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, on Friday. It says the activist is being investigated for remarks he made at the Arizona State Legislature on March 15.