Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said he will meet with two top American officials in Kyiv on Sunday.

Mr Zelensky gave few details about the logistics of his planned talks with US secretary of state Antony Blinken and US defence secretary Lloyd Austin on what was the 60th day since Russia invaded Ukraine. 

But he told reporters he expected the Americans to come bringing “not just presents or some kind of cakes, we are expecting specific things and specific weapons.”

The visit would be the first to Ukraine’s capital by high-level US officials since the invasion began on February 24. 

While visiting Poland in March, Mr Blinken stepped briefly on to Ukrainian soil to meet with the country’s foreign minister. 

Mr Zelensky’s last face-to-face meeting with a US leader was on February 19 in Munich with vice president Kamala Harris.

The meeting was set to take place as Ukrainians and Russians observed Orthodox Easter, an occasion Mr Zelensky highlighted the allegorical significance of to a nation wracked by nearly two months of war.

“The great holiday today gives us great hope and unwavering faith that light will overcome darkness, good will overcome evil, life will overcome death, and therefore Ukraine will surely win!” he said, speaking on Sunday from the ancient St Sophia Cathedral.

Russia has been trying to take Mariupol for nearly two months, and the city on the Sea of Azov has seen some of the war’s worst deprivations. 

Its capture would deprive Ukraine of a vital port, free up Russian troops to fight elsewhere, and establish a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized in 2014.

Some 2,000 troops have been fighting tenaciously to hold on to the last remaining Ukrainian outpost in the city, the Azovstal steel plant, which also has civilians taking refuge in its labyrinthine tunnel system.

Russian forces have continued to pummel the plant, hitting it with air strikes, including by long-range aircraft, Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesman for the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff, said on Sunday.

In the last day, Russia also pressed its attacks elsewhere in the eastern Donbas region, where Moscow-backed separatists controlled some territory before the war and the Russians are aiming to gain full control over Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said on Sunday that eight people were killed and two others were wounded in a Russian barrage on Saturday.

The Russians also have shelled the Dnipro region west of Donbas, where at least one person was killed by a Russian missile, according to regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko.

Russia has pulled back forces from Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and the north of the country to feed into the Donbas offensive, but the British Ministry of Defence said on Sunday that Ukrainian forces had repelled numerous assaults in the past week.

“Despite Russia making some territorial gains, Ukrainian resistance has been strong across all axes and inflicted significant cost on Russian forces,” the ministry said in an intelligence update.

“Poor Russian morale and limited time to reconstitute, re-equip and reorganise forces from prior offensives are likely hindering Russian combat effectiveness,” it said.

The Ukrainian military said on Saturday it destroyed a Russian command post in Kherson, a southern city that fell to Russian forces early in the war.

The command post was hit on Friday, killing two generals and critically wounding another, the Ukrainian military intelligence agency said in a statement. The Russian military did not comment on the claim, which could not be confirmed.

If true, at least nine Russian generals have been killed since the start of the invasion, according to Ukrainian reports.

More than 100,000 people — down from a pre-war population of about 430,000 — are believed to remain in Mariupol with scant food, water or heat. Ukrainian authorities estimate that over 20,000 civilians have been killed in the city.

Yet another attempt to evacuate women, children and older adults from Mariupol failed on Saturday.

Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, said Russian forces did not allow Ukrainian-organized buses to take residents to Zaporizhzhia, a city 141 miles to the north-west.