Photo: Antti Yrjönen
Prepared by Sofia Oliynyk and Maryana Zaviyska
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Cities under attack. Shelling of the Kharkiv region continues. Residential areas of Kharkiv, including Industrialnyi and Kyivskyi districts, were under fire yesterday. Three people were killed and 16 injured. The Russian troops also fired on Dergachi and Chuhuiv districts with rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Almost the entire Luhansk region – around 215 settlements – was left without electricity, according to the head of the Regional State Administration Serhiy Gaidai, as Russian troops damaged a high-voltage power line. Town of Novodruzhesk in the Luhansk region remains without gas because its pipeline has been seriously damaged. Russian troops keep advancing in the direction of Popasna and Severodontsk. In Bashtanka, Mykolaiv region, a hospital was heavily damaged due to the Russian shelling. Its dialysis department and the reception were destroyed, while the surgery room was left without windows.
Cities under occupation. Kreminna, Luhansk region is reported to be the first city confirmed to have been taken by Russian forces since the launch of a new offensive in eastern Ukraine. In Rozivka, Zaporizhzhia region, Russian troops organized a pseudo-referendum about the district’s joining to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). People displaced into Rozivka from Mariupol were called to the Rozivka administrative building to discuss social payments and to assess the needs. In fact, people were informed about the memorandum on holding ‘local elections’ and joint so-called DPR until the time the whole Zaporizhzhia region will be occupied by Russian troops. Velyki Kopani village, Kherson region has been taken under Russian control. The Russian troops replaced the Ukrainian flag with the Russian flag on top of the village council building, as well as announced closure of the entryways to the villages, checking of all civilian houses, and punishing the families who hid Ukrainian flags. In Nova Kakhovka, Kherson region, Russian forces keep printing the referendum bulletins for creation of ‘Kherson People’s Republic’. The ‘referendum’ will use passport data collected during the distribution of ‘humanitarian aid’ in Kherson.
Ukraine has already liberated 919 settlements in Sumy, Chernihiv, Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Zhytomyr, and Zaporizhia regions. About 2000 more towns and villages are still under Russian occupation.
Mariupol. Russia gave another surrender ultimatum to the Ukrainian forces in Mariupol on Wednesday at 14:00. However, the bombing of Azovstal, where around 1000 civilians are sheltering along with the Ukranian soldiers, continues with bunker-buster bombs. Commander of the Azov battalion informed that the plant was heavily damaged and they had to rescue civilians from underneath the rubble. In the morning address, Mariupol soldiers appealed to the world to commence the extraction procedure and to evacuate the armed forces, civilians, and wounded soldiers as their time is running out. They might have literally just hours to save themselves.
The US Embassy in Ukraine has compared filtration camps around Mariupol to the ones established by Russia previously in Chechnya. Currently, around 20 000 people are forcibly held there, and around 5 000 are held in similar camps on the territory of Russia. The Wall Street Journal has prepared a map and overview of the damages across Mariupol.
Human rights. Sergii Kyslytsia, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN informed that Russian forces already forcibly relocated 500 000 Ukrainians to Russia, including 121 000 children. Nearly 20 000 remain in the filtration camps on the Manhush-Nikolske-Yalta line.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk reported that the fifth exchange of prisoners with the Russian Federation took place on April 19. Ukraine returned back 60 servicepeople and 16 civilians.
Foreign policy. The Ukraine Support Tracker, by Kiel Institute, presented an analysis of the military, financial and humanitarian aid transferred by governments to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022. The US has provided Kyiv with the equivalent of €7.6 billion of aid in four weeks of the full-scale war. Poland has provided the second largest share of the support under €1 billion. All EU countries combined total €2.9 billion, plus €1.4 billion from EU institutions and €2 billion from the European Investment Bank. Meanwhile, Estonia provided the biggest share (0.8%) of the support to Ukraine in regard to its GDP. Geographic proximity to Ukraine seems to play a major role in the engagement of Eastern European countries, says the report. The United States is to announce another $800-million military aid package to Ukraine in the upcoming days. The second package will be the same size as the previous one, however no more details are yet revealed. On Tuesday evening, the UK and Canada also announced more supplies of artillery to Ukraine.
Canada proceeds with imposing targeted sanctions on 14 individuals of the Russian regime, including on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, according to a statement from the foreign ministry.
Twelve Belgian diplomats and 15 Dutch diplomats have been expelled from Russia after being declared personae non gratae. Russia proceeds with imposing mirror diplomat expulsions in response to the EU’s actions.
Charles Michel, President of the European Council is visitting Kyiv on April 20. Previously he announced that ‘the EU will develop the Ukraine Solidarity Fund for immediate support and reconstruction of a democratic Ukraine’.
‘Four objectives of Putin’. POLITICO compiled the list of Russia’s four objectives in further roll-out of the offensive in the east and south of the country. The list includes (1) capturing all of the Donbas territories; (2) building a land bridge from the Donbas to Crimea via Mariupol; (3) taking control over Kherson, which is crucial to securing freshwater canals to Crimea; and (4) seizing additional territory to use as a buffer zone and/or bargaining chips in a future negotiation with Ukraine. Similar objectives were mentioned also by the Spokesperson of the Ministry of the Defense of Ukraine. The aim of Russia’s new military offensive in the east of Ukraine is to grab land, establish an overground link between territories in the east and the Crimea, and crush Ukraine’s armed forces, Ukraine’s defense ministry said on Tuesday. According to a United States’ defense official, Russia will target routes used for weapons shipments in an attempt to slow the supply of US and partner weapons flowing into Ukraine. Russian forces have not frequently struck moving targets such as convoys or rail deliveries before but they could try to destroy the bridges, roads and rails used to transport the weapons and supplies to the east of Ukraine.
Energy security. Hungary will not join the EU sanctions against Russian oil and gas. Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, indicated that Hungary ‘cannot pay for this war’. Previously, Hungary mentioned their readiness to pay for Russian gas in rubles. French President Macron informed that France can proceed with enforcing more sanctions targeting Russian gas. Take a look at where the EU Member States stand in regard to banning Russian gas.
The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) reported that direct communications between the national regulator and the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant has been restored. The disconnection lasted for more than a month when Russian forces controlled the site.
Economic security. Bloomberg reports Putin will meet executives and owners of big business on Wednesday. No agenda has been announced, according to the people asking to remain anonymous because the information is not public yet. However, the last time a similar meeting took place was right before February 24th.
Disinformation. Russian media ‘informs’ that Security Services of Ukraine plan to attack Odesa region. Translating it into the common language – Russian troops are considering attacking Odesa region under the guise of another ‘liberation mission’.
Z symbols. Lithuania’s parliament on April 19 voted to ban public displays of the letter Z, the black and orange ribbon of St. George, and other popular-in-Russia symbols which express support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Ukrainian volunteers recount three weeks in Russian captivity, allege beatings | Reuters
- Huge Steel Plant in Mariupol Is a Fortress for Ukrainian Holdouts | The New York Times (nytimes.com)
- General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced the total estimated losses of the Russian military as of 10 a.m., April 20, 2022: personnel – around 20 900, tanks ‒ 815, APV ‒ 2087, artillery systems – 391, MLRS – 136, anti-aircraft warfare systems – 67, fixed-wing aircraft – 171, helicopters – 150, soft-skinned vehicles – 1504, boats and light speed boats – 8, fuel tankers – 76, operational-tactical level UAV – 165, special equipment – 27, mobile SRBM system – 4. Also follow the interactive counter of Russian losses.
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