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War in Ukraine. Daily update. Day 49 [10.00 am, 13.04.2022🇬🇧🇷🇸🇦🇪🇭🇷🇪🇸🇩🇪🇬🇪🇯🇵🇨🇵🇷🇺🇵🇱🇭🇺]

Photo: Twitter/ Department of anti propagandа

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Cities under attack. 40% of apartment blocks in Mariupol are fully destroyed, reports the Head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration Pavlo Kyrylenko. According civil society activists the Russian troops continue terrorizing villages in Kherson region – searching for former ATO veterans or people with active pro-Ukrainian position, checking people for tattoos that could be related to Ukrainian army. People are brought and tortured in Nova Kakhovka and Kherson outskirts. Food and medical resources remain scarce, while the occupants also steal agricultural machinery. Around 100 settlements of Kherson region remain without electricity and water. Two missile attacks targeted the Myrgorod, Poltava region, destroying critical infrastructure. Missile hit an infrastructure object in the city of Chudniv, Zhytomyr region. Situation in the Luhansk region remains intense – Russian troops fire at everything, without differentiating civilian or critical (water, gas, electricity, ect) infrastructure. Around 400 civilians have been buried in the town of Severodonetsk near the frontline in eastern Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion according to the governor of the Lugansk region. Morgues are overfilled with bodies as well as the cemetery is impossible to reach under the constant shelling, thus locals bury bodies in the backyards of the buildings. In the Kharkiv region due to constant shelling, 17 people were injured and 1 killed. A Russian missile hit a railway road in central Ukraine  causing up to 3 hours delays in the railway schedule. Today 13 humanitarian corridors could not be launched since Russian troops blocked evacuation buses in Zaporizhzhya region, as well as constant shelling in Luhansk region.

Foreign policy. Ukraine rejected the visit of German President Steinmeier to Kyiv. The information first appeared in the German newspaper Bild, however later confirmed by Steinmeier himself. Steinmeier had planned to travel to Kyiv with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland on Wednesday. However, his request for a meeting was rejected by the Ukrainian President. Alleged reason for the visit rejection is due to his close ties with Russia and support of the Nord Stream 2. Ukraine’s Ambassador to Germany informed that in a way Kyiv would very much welcome German Chancellor Scholz. 

Meanwhile, the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland are on their way to Kyiv. As Lithuanian president stated, he is on his way to Kyiv to show a ‘strong message of political support’.

US President publicly accused Putin of committing genocide in Ukraine. Actions committed by Putin indicated the efforts of destroying the mere idea of Ukraine, said Biden. ‘We’ll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me’. President Zelenskyi congratulated the US President on calling the things by their real name.

Ukraine has started working on filling out the questionnaire to obtain EU candidate status, handed over to President Zelenskyi last Friday. Prime Minister Shmyhal stated that they expect Ukraine will be able to receive such a status no later than June this year. Meanwhile the EPP group in the European Parliament called to provide candidate status immediately. 

Energy security. Europe has started assisting Ukraine in rebuilding its energy infrastructure. The first shipment of emergency equipment has arrived in Ukraine. The equipment will help repair energy infrastructure damaged during the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine. The delivery of the shipment was supported by the Secretariat of the Energy Community. The next batch will follow based on the list of needs from the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine following urgent requests of critical energy infrastructure operator companies.

The Russia-backed hacking group, known as Sandworm, attempted to disconnect Ukraine’s power grid.  The group sought to damage high-voltage electrical substations, computers and networking equipment, according to a statement on Tuesday from Ukraine’s Computer Emergency Response Team. The attackers breached the energy provider’s network ‘no later than February 22’, according to the security advisory, and had planned to cut power in a Ukrainian region on April 8. Ukraine’s power grid has been knocked offline twice before, in 2015 and 2016, causing widespread blackouts. Therefore the planned attack could leave up to 2 mln without electricity and connection. 

Provocations. Russian special services are preparing to stage a series of terrorist attacks in Russia and the occupied Crimea to instigate anti-Ukrainian hysteria. Over the last week, Russian authorities has announced an increased risk of terrorist attacks in four regions neighbouring to Ukraine and in occupied Crimea. In particular, in the Belgorod and Kursk regions, local authorities informed about digging of the trenches in order to be prepared in case of an offensive from alleged Ukrainian volunteer battalions and sabotage groups.

Disinformation. Putin gave a speech about Russia’s invasion in Ukraine in his now rare offline appearance along with Belarusian comrade.  Putin said that Moscow had ‘no choice’ but to intervene to protect separatists, defeat neo-Nazis and ‘help people’. The goal of the special operation to protect Donbas is noble and it will be achieved. Russian president also noted that Kyiv had publicly refused to comply with the Minsk agreements, ‘and it was impossible to continue enduring the genocide’. Its campaign now aims to capture more territory on behalf of separatists in two eastern provinces, a region known as the Donbas. It includes Mariupol port, which has been reduced to a wasteland under Russian siege. 

Russia’s Fifth Column. The Secret Service of Ukraine arrested top Putin ally, Viktor Medvedchuk. Medvedchuk is a leader of the ‘Opposition Platform – For Life’ party, pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, as well as godfather of Putin’s daughters. In February he escaped from his house arrest and yesterday was caught trying to escape Ukraine, wearing the uniform of the Ukrainian Army. President Zelenskyi offered to exchange him as a prisoner of war for Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, who were captured by Russians. 

Church ‘beyond’ politics. The Vatican planned to invite a Ukrainian woman and a Russian woman to carry the cross together during the pope’s Way of the Cross service at Rome’s Colosseum April 15. However, the idea outraged the Ukrainian community as the idea was considered a call for ‘reconciliation’ with Russia. Diplomats and Archbishop of Ukrainian Catholic Church have already addressed the papacy to reconsider the idea. Archbishop Shevchuk said, calling the plan ‘incoherent and even offensive, especially in the context of the expected second, even bloodier attack of Russian troops on our cities and villages’.

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