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Bangkok Post

War in Ukraine: Latest developments

A view shows the city of Mariupol and the Azovstal steel plant on Tuesday, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine. (AFP photo)

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

- Russians retreat from Kharkiv: Zelensky -

President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russian forces are being driven back from the northeastern city of Kharkiv as a Ukrainian counter-offensive in the area near the Russian border gains traction.

"The occupiers are gradually being pushed away," he says.

The governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleg Synegubov, confirms that Ukraine has retaken several villages northeast of the country's second-biggest city.

"Thus, the enemy was driven even further from Kharkiv, and the occupiers had even less opportunity to fire on the regional centre," he says.

- Pussy Riot rocker leaves Russia -

A member of Russia's Pussy Riot punk rock political activist group Maria Alyokhina has left Russia disguised as a food delivery courier.

In an interview with the New York Times, the 33-year-old says she first crossed into neighbouring Belarus, a Russia ally, before arriving in EU member Lithuania.

Alyokhina faced jail for protesting in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. She had already spent two years in prison over Pussy Riot's 2012 protest performance inside a Moscow church.

Thousands of Russians have fled their country over a crackdown on dissent and sanctions imposed on the country over its war in Ukraine.

- '44 bodies' found in Russian-held town -

Residents have found the bodies of 44 civilians under the rubble of a destroyed building in the eastern town of Izyum, which is under Russian control, Kharkiv's governor says.

The town, which acts as a gateway to the Donbas region, which Russia has vowed to "liberate," fell to Russian troops on April 1 after several weeks of heavy fighting.

- Putin preparing for long war: US -

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not end the Ukraine war with the campaign in the eastern Donbas region, says US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, warning he could make a play for the breakaway region of Transnistria in Ukraine's neighbour to the west, Moldova.

"We assess President Putin is preparing for prolonged conflict in Ukraine during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbas," Haines tells a Senate hearing.

She also says Putin could order martial law in Russia to support his ambitions in Ukraine but will use nuclear weapons only if he considers Russia faces an "existential threat".

- US lawmakers approve $40bn in Ukraine aid -

US lawmakers vote to send a colossal $40 billion package of military, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

"With this aid package, America sends a resounding message to the world of our unwavering determination to stand with the courageous people of Ukraine until victory is won," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues ahead of the vote.

The final amount is $6.8 billion more than the $33 billion previously requested by the White House to help the ex-Soviet nation ward off Moscow's invasion. If passed by the Senate as expected, it will take US spending on Ukraine aid to around $54 billion.