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The head of the European Parliament told President Zelensky during a visit to Kyiv today that the people of Europe stand with Ukraine and the assembly supports the country's hope to start the process of joining the EU. 

Roberta Metsola, who took over as the European Parliament's president in January, met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during her one-day visit to the capital. 

She said: 'You are us and we are you. But at the same time, you are also fighting our war, you are fighting for fundamental principles that this continent has for so many centuries defended. 

'I also come here with the message of this is "the whatever it takes" moment. So I would like to make sure that you have everything that you need in your hands in order for you to win this war. 

'Because if you win, the world wins.' 

The head of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, (right) told President Zelensky during a visit to Kyiv today that the people of Europe stand with Ukraine and the assembly supports the country's hope to start the process of joining the EU

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 The head of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, (right) told President Zelensky during a visit to Kyiv today that the people of Europe stand with Ukraine and the assembly supports the country's hope to start the process of joining the EU

EU promises Zelenskiy with assistance to win war in Kyiv

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In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, right, talk during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1

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In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, right, talk during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola addresses the Ukrainian lawmakers, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, during a parliament session in Kyiv, Ukraine April 1

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European Parliament President Roberta Metsola addresses the Ukrainian lawmakers, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, during a parliament session in Kyiv, Ukraine April 1

Metsola: 'European Union future of Ukraine should never be in doubt'

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola pose for a picture during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola pose for a picture during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1

Zelenskiy: Situation in east of country remains extremely difficult

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Zelensky replied: 'There is no grey colour and grey zone for us in the international diplomacy. 

'I think you understand it. The question of survival is very urgent. 

'We are happy that you are on the side of light and good, so I am grateful for your support.' 

Metsola, who is Maltese, also made three promises in a seperate address earlier on Friday to the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament. 

She said: 'First of all, this invasion of your country puts Russia in direct confrontation with Europe, the international community and the rules-based world order. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola talk during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola talk during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1

'And it is not something that we will let Putin do unchallenged. We need more and harder sanctions. 

'We will hold those responsible accountable for what they have committed here.

Second, the European Union recognises Ukraine's European ambitions and your aspirations to be a candidate country for accession. 

'And I stand before all of you here to say, that you can count on me, you can count on the European Parliament in supporting Ukraine's path in achieving this goal. 

Roberta Metsola, who took over as the European Parliament's president in January, met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during her one-day visit to the capital

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Roberta Metsola, who took over as the European Parliament's president in January, met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during her one-day visit to the capital 

Zelensky said: 'We are happy that you are on the side of light and good, so I am grateful for your support'

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Zelensky said: 'We are happy that you are on the side of light and good, so I am grateful for your support'

Zelensky added: 'There is no grey colour and grey zone for us in the international diplomacy'

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Zelensky added: 'There is no grey colour and grey zone for us in the international diplomacy'

'We know what blood was spilt to get here. And we will not let you down.

'And we know more than ever that Ukraine looks to the European Union as its destination. We will respond with honesty and with hope. 

'Every country has its own path - but the European Union future of Ukraine should never be in doubt.

'Thirdly, we will take care of your families who are forced to flee, until the day they can safely return to their homes and rebuild their lives. 

'And we will help you to rebuild your cities and your towns when this illegal, unprovoked and unjustified invasion is over. 

'We have already provided assistance: financial, military and humanitarian. This will continue and this will increase. 

'We will create the Ukraine Solidarity Trust Fund and organise an International Donors Conference, to help rebuild. 

'Because this attack on your homeland has changed everything.

Metsola told the Ukrainian parliament: 'We know more than ever that Ukraine looks to the European Union as its destination. We will respond with honesty and with hope'

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Metsola told the Ukrainian parliament: 'We know more than ever that Ukraine looks to the European Union as its destination. We will respond with honesty and with hope'

She added: 'Every country has its own path - but the European Union future of Ukraine should never be in doubt'

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She added: 'Every country has its own path - but the European Union future of Ukraine should never be in doubt'

'You did not invite this invasion. Nor did you provoke it. You did not seek a confrontation. 

'But you have risen to meet this moment that is testament to the greatness of a people, to your courage, to your strength of character.'

She added: 'Please believe me when I say that the European Parliament, the European Union and the people of Europe stand with Ukraine. 

'That is why I am here today, because we stand with you.' 

Ruslan Stefanchuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, said they had discussed continuing international sanctions on Russia, humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine and procedures for EU accession.

Metsola's visit came as Ukraine recaptured more territory around Kyiv from Russian soldiers who left shattered villages and their own abandoned tanks as they moved away from the capital, while a disputed cross-border strike in Russia complicated peace talks on Friday. 

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (left), Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, and Ruslan Stefanchuk, speaker of Ukrainian Parliament, during their meeting in Kyiv today

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Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (left), Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, and Ruslan Stefanchuk, speaker of Ukrainian Parliament, during their meeting in Kyiv today

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola and Ukraine's Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk shake hands after a news briefing, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues

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European Parliament President Roberta Metsola and Ukraine's Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk shake hands after a news briefing, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues

President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola walks before a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 1

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President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola walks before a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 1

In the hamlet of Dmytrivka to the west of the capital, smoke was still rising from the wrecks of tanks and the bodies of at least eight Russian soldiers lay in the streets, Reuters correspondents saw.

'From one side we were hearing the tanks shooting at us, and from the area of Bucha was a massive mortar shelling,' said resident Leonid Vereshchagin, a business executive, referring to a town to the north.

Ukrainian forces went on to take back Bucha, its mayor said on Friday in a video that appeared to be filmed outside the town hall. The advances followed several days of Ukrainian gains around Kyiv and in the north.

Drone footage shows city of Mariupol left completely destroyed

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A man walks past a burnt armoured personnel carrier near buildings destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

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A man walks past a burnt armoured personnel carrier near buildings destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

Service members of pro-Russian troops sit atop of an armoured vehicle, which moves along a street in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

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Service members of pro-Russian troops sit atop of an armoured vehicle, which moves along a street in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

Marina Sidorenko, 83, shows an apartment building burnt-out in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

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Marina Sidorenko, 83, shows an apartment building burnt-out in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

A view shows the building of a theatre destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

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A view shows the building of a theatre destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

In southwest Ukraine, anti-air defences thwarted an attempted attack on critical infrastructure in the Black Sea port of Odesa, the Ukrainian military said. Reuters could not immediately verify the account.

Odesa's governor, Maksym Marchenko, said three missiles had hit a residential district, causing casualties. He said the missiles were fired from an Iskander missile system in Crimea, the southern Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

Russia denies targeting civilians.

A view shows a road and buildings damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

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A view shows a road and buildings damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

People walk along a street near residential buildings heavily damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

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People walk along a street near residential buildings heavily damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

A boy looks at a destroyed Russian tank after recent battles in Bucha, close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1

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A boy looks at a destroyed Russian tank after recent battles in Bucha, close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1

'President Vladimir Putin sent troops on February 24 for what he calls a 'special operation' to demilitarise Ukraine. The West calls it an unprovoked war of aggression that has killed thousands and uprooted a quarter of Ukraine's population.

Moscow said Ukrainian helicopters struck a fuel depot in the Russian border city of Belgorod, a logistics hub for its war effort, causing a huge fire. Ukraine denied responsibility for the incident, the first of its kind in the five-week-old war.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the incident could jeopardise Ukrainian-Russian peace talks, which resumed on Friday by video link. Russia will strengthen its western borders so it won't 'cross anyone's mind to attack,' Peskov said later.

Marina Sidorenko, 83, and other local residents sit around a fire on the territory of a church in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

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Marina Sidorenko, 83, and other local residents sit around a fire on the territory of a church in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

Local resident Marina Sidorenko, 83, shows her apartment in a multi-storey building burnt-out in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

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Local resident Marina Sidorenko, 83, shows her apartment in a multi-storey building burnt-out in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

Local resident and pensioner Valentina Popyi, 75, who seeks refuge in a children's home damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict, speaks with neighbours in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

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Local resident and pensioner Valentina Popyi, 75, who seeks refuge in a children's home damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict, speaks with neighbours in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

Hours after the blaze began at the oil depot, an eyewitness reached by telephone in Belgorod, who asked not to be identified, said aircraft were flying overhead and there were continuous explosions from the direction of the border.

'Something is happening. There are planes and constant explosions in the distance.'

Security camera footage, from a location verified by Reuters, showed a flash from what appeared to be a missile fired from low altitude in the sky, followed by an explosion on the ground.

Ukraine's top security official said Russia's accusations were not correct. Ukraine's defence ministry earlier had declined to confirm or deny involvement.

'Ukraine is currently conducting a defensive operation against Russian aggression on the territory of Ukraine, and this does not mean that Ukraine is responsible for every catastrophe on Russia's territory,' said ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk.

A Russian threat to cut off gas supplies to Europe unless buyers paid with roubles by Friday was averted for now, with Moscow saying it would not halt supplies until new payments are due later in April. 

Local resident and accountant Tatyana Velichko, 60, who seeks refuge in a children's home damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict, cooks food in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

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Local resident and accountant Tatyana Velichko, 60, who seeks refuge in a children's home damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict, cooks food in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 1

Devastating drone footage shows the destruction of Mariupol

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Local resident Pavel, 42, stands next to the grave of his friend Igor, who was killed by shelling while they were riding together in a car during Ukraine-Russia conflict, in a residential area in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 30, 2022

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Local resident Pavel, 42, stands next to the grave of his friend Igor, who was killed by shelling while they were riding together in a car during Ukraine-Russia conflict, in a residential area in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 30, 2022

Russia says the southeastern region of Donbas, where it has backed separatists since 2014, is now the focus of its war efforts. The besieged and bombarded Azov Sea port city of Mariupol has been its main target there.

Conditions on Friday made it impossible to go ahead with a plan to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, where tens of thousands are trapped with scant water or food, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths will travel to Moscow on Sunday and then to Kyiv as the United Nations pursues a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters.

A total of 6,266 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Friday, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president's office.

After failing to capture a single major city, Russia has painted its draw-down of forces near Kyiv as a goodwill gesture in peace talks. The negotiations led to a prisoner exchange on Friday, Tymoshenko said, with the release of 86 Ukrainian troops.

Tymoshenko did not say how many Russian soldiers were released.

Homes, administrative buildings and cultural landmarks have all been shelled in the brutal campaign

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Homes, administrative buildings and cultural landmarks have all been shelled in the brutal campaign

Russian oil facility on fire after Ukrainian helicopter 'strike'

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BEFORE: A satellite image shows home and buildings in Mariupol in June last year before the Russian invasion

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BEFORE: A satellite image shows home and buildings in Mariupol in June last year before the Russian invasion

AFTER: A photo taken on Tuesday shows the scale of devastation on the port city wrought by Putin's army

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AFTER: A photo taken on Tuesday shows the scale of devastation on the port city wrought by Putin's army

Ukraine and its allies say Russian forces have been forced to regroup after suffering heavy losses due to determined Ukrainian resistance.

Regional governors in Kyiv and Chernihiv said Russians were pulling out of areas in both those provinces, some heading back across borders to Belarus and Russia.

In Irpin, a commuter suburb northwest of Kyiv that had been one of the main battlegrounds for weeks, now firmly back in Ukrainian hands, volunteers and emergency workers carried the dead on stretchers out of the rubble. 

About a dozen bodies were zipped up in black plastic body bags, lined up on a street and loaded into vans.

Lilia Ristich was sitting on a metal playground swing with her young son Artur. Most people had fled; they had stayed.

She listed neighbours who had been killed - the man 'buried there, on the lawn'; the couple with their 12-year-old child, all burned alive.

'I pray for all this to end and for them never to come back,' she said. 'When you hold a child in your arms it is an everlasting fear.'