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War in Ukraine. Daily updates. Day 53-54 [10.00 am, 17-18.04.2022]

Photo: Telegram channel of the political party Sluha Narodu

Cities under attack. Kharkiv. The city has been under regular shelling. At least 18 people were killed and more than 100 injured over the past four days. The occupiers deported more than 50 citizens from the city of Izyum, Kharkiv region to Russia. Evacuation in Lysychansk, Lugansk region, was thwarted, as Russian troops started shooting around the city. The local oil refinery plant caught on fire due to the active shelling. In Severodonetsk, Luhansk region, since the start of the full-scale war, a new cemetery appeared with more than 400 graves. Russian troops fired at Zolote, the Luhansk region – at least two killed and four injured. Russian troops entered Kreminna, Luhansk region, on April 18, evacuation from the town is impossible due to heavy street fighting. In Zaporizhzhia region, shelling of the residential areas continues. In the city of Polohy, a fire hit a residential building, a 12-year-old child was among the victims. Hulaypole was shelled from different types of artillery and from BM-21 ‘Grad’ for 5 hours. The Head of the city council reported that phosphorous bombs were also used. Pieces of the two destroyed air missiles fell in a residential area in Zaporizhzhia, damaging some of the houses. In Trostyanets amalgamated community, Sumy region, the remains of chemical weapons – sarin and other chemical substances – were identified after withdrawal of Russian troops, reports city mayor.  Brovary, Kyiv region, was hit on April 17 by Russian missiles targeting civilian infrastructure. 5 missiles hit Lviv on Monday morning, 6 people died and 8 were injured. As a result of the morning shelling of Dnipropetrovsk region on April 18, two people were injured and two infrastructure objects damaged – in the Synelnykivskyi district, a rocket hit an infrastructure facility, and in the Pavlohradskyi district, destroyed the railway infrastructure. 

As the situation deteriorates in the east and south of the country, this issue contains special focus on the city of Mariupol and Kherson region.

Mariupol. Further restrictions are introduced in Mariupol by Russian troops. Starting from Monday, April 18, civilians will be allowed to move across the city only with a special permit issued by Russian troops. Also, the city will be closed for entrance and departure  to conduct filtration of all men. There is a reported attack planned on Mariupol Azovstal plant, where Ukrainian troops and up to 1000 civilians are based. Foreign Minister Kuleba warns that the critical situation in Mariupol may become a red line in further negotiations. 

Kherson. The Russian occupiers are preparing to hold a ‘referendum’ on the creation of a ‘people’s republic’ in the Kherson region. To do this, they use the personal data of local residents, which is collected during the issuance of ‘humanitarian aid’ – reports the Government Portal. Local residents say that the  pseudo-referendum is planned for the period from May 1 to May 10, 2022. At this time, the Russian troops intend to close Kherson to entry and exit and disconnect all communication. Humanitarian situation in the region is critical, as food and medical resources are running scarce. As for available resources, the prices are at least twice as high or include Russian-origin goods. Persecutions of the civilians continue, as well as frequent cases of looting in the villages across the region. The Washington Post reports of 824 new graves that appear on the satellite images.

Access to clean water. UN reports about lack and  limited access to drinking water in the war-affected regions in eastern Ukraine due to the damaged and destroyed water and electricity networks. 1.4 million people remain without running water, and around 4.6 million people have only limited access. In total, over 6 million people in Ukraine are struggling every day to have drinking water. The situation is particularly critical in Mariupol, where tens of thousands of people are likely to be using contaminated sources. Major cities across Donetsk and Luhansk regions are also cut off from water supply and an additional 340 000 people risk losing access to clean water if a reservoir in Horlivka runs dry. Sumy and Chernihiv cities experienced serious water outages in early March and Kharkiv’s system was also seriously affected.

Human rights. The occupation authorities of the L/DPR are mobilizing minors from the age of 16, who previously participated in so-called military-patriotic sports clubs. Children are expected to join the ranks of illegal armed groups. First casualty among the children has been already recorded.

Russian troops started persecuting the representatives of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people in the temporarily occupied cities of Zaporizhia and Kherson regions. In the village Kalanchak, Kherson region, the Russian military illegally broke into Rustem Osmanov’s apartment, detained him and took him to Simferopol. In occupied Melitopol, the militants of the ‘Kadyrov’ unit conducted an illegal search of Dlyaver Seitumerov’s house. They arrived in armored personnel carriers, smashed windows, broke doors and upturned things.

The Head of the Zaporizhzhia district state administration, Oleh Buryak, informed that his 16-year old son was kidnapped by Russian troops at the checkpoint in Vasylivka.

In Crimea, camps for requalification of teachers are established. Teachers from the occupied territories of Kharkiv, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions will have to go through requalification in order to proceed teaching according to the Russian education guidelines. All children from the temporarily occupied territories will have to attend Russian language classes in order to improve their level of language command.

Due to lack of human resources, the Russian invaders are trying to involve locals from the temporarily occupied territories. Thus, in the city of Izyum, the forced mobilization of men has begun.

Foreign policy. Ukraine has completed the EU membership questionnaire as reported by the Deputy Chief of the Presidents’ Office in Ukraine.

The EU is allocating a further €50 million in humanitarian funding to support the people affected by Russia’s war in Ukraine, with €45 million for humanitarian projects in Ukraine and €5 million for Moldova. This brings the total amount of humanitarian aid funding in response to the war to €143 million. This funding is part of the €1 billion support package pledged by the European Commission at last week’s global pledging event ‘Stand Up For Ukraine’.

Russia demands the Czech Republic to stop sending the arms to Ukraine. In a diplomatic note to the Czech government, Russia warns that Prague cannot supply former Soviet weapons to third parties without the consent of Moscow. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipovsky said that they would not react in any way and said that ‘it is factual nonsense and that there is no re-export clause for this material’.

Sanctions. As of April 17, in the frame of the latest sanctions, the EU stopped allowing Russian vessels to enter the EU based sea ports. However, all EU member states should introduce the decision on the national level. Therefore, Romania, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, etc. have already announced they will not allow the Russian ships to enter their ports. The exception applies to the cases of emergency in the framing of maritime law, as well as delivery of agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid and energy.

Food security. Reports presented by the UN and Chatham House underline that the impact of the Russian war in Ukraine will affect food prices across the world, particularly in vulnerable countries. Among the key reasons – disruptions of the corn, sunflower oil, wheat and barley supply, rise of the prices for fertilizers, as well as cost of energy resources. In addition, quite a big chunk of export was going through the Black Sea and currently most of the UA ports, except the ones in Odesa region, are blocked. ‘High prices for energy and food pose immediate threats to human security, particularly among low-income and vulnerable populations in all economies and against a backdrop of post-pandemic inflation and limited fiscal capacity’ says Chatham House report. Environmentalist groups warn that disruption of the sunflower oil supply may lead to the return of the palm oil back to production usage. 

Energy security. Italian Prime Minister Draghi calls for the diversification of the gas resources, as well as introducing a cap for the gas price, as the EU remains  largely dependent on the Russian gas supply. Italy itself gets around 40% of gas from Russia, therefore gradual transition is currently discussed by the Prime Minister. The EU is working on ways for an oil embargo to be added to the forthcoming package of sanctions on Russia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag. 

Invictus Games. Ukraine won the first three medals at the Invictus Games in the Hague. The silver and bronze came in the long jump and gold medal in the shot put. Number of the Ukrainian veterans could not join the Invictus Games, as they returned back to the battlefield. 

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