Thousands of people took part in Easter peace marches across Germany to call upon the government to push for an end to Ukraine war.
The rallies, organized by the Peace Cooperative Network, called for an end to German arms exports to Ukraine and a rollback of the plans to expand and rearm the German armed forces.
Some 1,500 participants took part in marches in Berlin, while another 1,200 took to the streets in Hanover.
Several hundred demonstrators also gathered in the cities of Bremen, Munich, Cologne, Mainz and Leipzig.
"Each additional day of war means more dead and injured. The federal government must finally take action and do everything in its power to bring about a ceasefire and negotiations to end the war in Ukraine," said Kristian Golla of the Network of the German Peace Movement.
"This year's Easter marches will do their part to build up pressure from civil society for the government to finally abandon its passive role in negotiations," Golla added.
The Easter rallies — that first began in the 1960s and gained momentum during the 1980s to oppose war and militarization — have once again regained significance against the backdrop of the Ukraine war.
Even though Russia's invasion last year represented a "Zeitenwende" or a "change of times" for Germany, the public opinion on Germany's increased defense spending in the second year of the war remains divided.
Here are some of the other notable developments concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Saturday, April 8:
31 Ukrainian children return home
A group of 31 Ukrainian children have returned home from Russia, according to a Ukrainian organization.
Mykola Kuleba, the chief of Save Ukraine group said they were "welcoming home 31 more children who have been illegally taken by Russians from occupied territories."
The rescue group said the children had been deported from the regions of Kharviv and Kherson.
Kuleba said their rescue mission was difficult and praised "heroic mothers" who traveled to bring their children home.
Thousands of children have been forcefully deported to Russia since the war began last year, with UN investigators saying forced transfers amount to a war crime.
Russian military blogger mourned at Moscow funeral
Hundreds of people attended the Moscow funeral of Vladlen Tatarsky, the pro-war Russian blogger who died in a bomb blast at a cafe in St. Petersburg.
Some mourners displayed the letters Z and V, symbols of Russia's war in Ukraine, on their clothes.
Among the mourners were the Wagner mercenary group's chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who placed a sledgehammer near Tatarsky coffin. The sledgehammer became a symbol of the brutality of the Wagner mercenary group after videos surfaced of them attacking prisoners with a sledgehammer.
The pro-war blogger was not a member of Wagner, but has previously fought with pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. He was posthumously awarded the Order of Courage by President Vladimir Putin.
Tatarsky, whose real name is Maxim Fomin, was attending a discussion at a cafe last Sunday when he was allegedly handed a statuette, which was believed to contain the explosives that killed him and injured at least 40 people.
Russian authorities claim supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny helped Ukrainian authorities carry out the attack. The officials have provided no evidence for the claim.
A 26-year-old Russian woman, Darya T., was detained and charged in connection with the blast.
Ukraine says ready to resume electricity exports to Europe
Ukraine will resume electricity exports to Europe, following a six-month halt as Kyiv struggled under Russian missile attacks targeting the country's infrastructure.
Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said on Friday that Ukraine's power grid has been functioning without consumption restrictions for nearly two months, without resorting to a power reserve.
"The most difficult winter has passed," Halushchenko was quoted as saying. "The next step is to resume electricity exports, which will allow us to attract additional financial resources for the necessary reconstruction of destroyed and damaged electricity infrastructure."
Ukraine is allowed to export a maximum of 400 megawatts to the European energy grid. However, the actual amount of exports will depend on Ukrainian consumers' needs, the minister said.
Despite the war, Ukraine continued to export electricity to the European Union and neighboring Moldova until October, when Russia began targeting Kyiv's infrastructure.
Ukraine energy situation 'likely to improve,' British Defense Ministry says
Meanwhile, the UK Defense Ministry predicted in its daily briefing on the war that Ukraine's energy situation would start looking up as the weather gets warmer.
The ministry said preparations for the coming winter were already under way. It added that Russian strikes on energy infrastructure have become rare throughout the past month.
"Russia's campaign to severely degrade Ukraine's unified energy system (UES) within the 2022-23 winter has highly likely failed," the ministry said. It added that though smaller scale strikes remained ongoing, they were believed to have less impact on the unified energy system.
Russia likely behind classified US documents leak
Russia or pro-Russian elements were believed to be behind a leak of classified US military documents which detail US and NATO aid to Ukraine.
The Reuters news agency said three US officials blamed Russia for the incident.
The documents are dated from February 23, 2023, until March 1, 2023. They are also labeled as secret.
They appear to detail deliveries of weapons and other equipment going into Ukraine with more precise timelines than the US generally provides publicly.
However, anonymous US officials told Reuters that the documents appeared to have been altered to lower the number of Russian casualties, according to their own informal assessment which is separate from the official investigation into the leak.
The US Justice Department on Friday launched a probe into the possible leak. But the documents may have been altered or used as part of a misinformation campaign, some US officials said.
Zelenskyy says Crimea must be returned
Zelenskyy said that there was "no alternative" for Ukraine other than the return of Crimea into its control.
"The world should know: Respect and order will only return to international relations when the Ukrainian flag returns to Crimea - when there is freedom there," Zelenskyy said in a video message posted by his office.
The Ukrainian president hosted on Friday an official iftar for Muslims in the country, including military servicemen, officials and diplomats. He said the event, which represents breaking the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, would be the first in a new tradition.
Zelenskyy also condemned Russia's treatment of Crimea's Muslim Tatar community. The Muslim ethnic minority is indigenous to the Crimean peninsula. However, many have recently fled, fearing persecution, while others are currently detained by Russia.
The Ukrainian president thanked Muslims, saying they also "long for peace and protection from evil."
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva recently proposed that Kyiv give up the Crimean peninsula, illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, as a compromise in a potential peace deal with Moscow
More on the war in Ukraine
The UK Defense Ministry said Russia has "regained some momentum" in the battle for Bakhmut. Meanwhile, US media reported that secret plans of a spring offensive in Ukraine have been leaked online. Follow DW for more.
Without arms from the West, Ukraine has no hope in retaking territory from Moscow, but its forces have a more urgent problem: Finding ammunition to keep the weapons it already has running. DW reports on how so-called "shell hunger" affects how this war is being fought.
Germany's old-fashioned peace movement is increasingly divided on how to respond to the war in Ukraine. Their traditional Easter marches are growing less and less relevant to younger generations.
rm, rmt/kb (AFP, dpa, Reuters)