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War in Ukraine. Daily update. Day 60-61 [10.00 am, 24-25.04.2022 πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡·πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡­πŸ‡·πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡¦πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡³πŸ‡±πŸ‡·πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¨πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡±πŸ‡»Χ™Χ™Χ“Χ™Χ©]

Prepared by Sofia Oliynyk and Maryana ZaviyskaΒ 

Illustration: Mari Kinovych

Orthodox Easter in Ukraine marks 60 days of the Russian invasion in Ukraine as well as continuous shelling as usual.Β Β 

Foreign policy. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv to meet President Zelenskyi. In the closed-door meeting, the US representatives announced another round of military aid, as well as the gradual return of the US Embassy staff personnel and reportedly the new US Ambassador to Ukraine. Bridget Brink, the incumbent US Ambassador to Slovakia, is set to be announced as ambassador to Ukraine in Washington. Earlier, President Zelenskyi mentioned that he plans to ask for more powerful weapons. Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg sees a different way for Ukraine to develop further, without offering EU membership. Meanwhile, Latvian Minister of Defense tweeted that all those who do not support granting Ukraine the status of a candidate for EU membership this summer are working against the interests of Europe. On Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky held a phone conversation with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan. The Presidents discussed the need for the immediate evacuation of civilians from the mostly Russian-occupied port city of Mariupol.

Poland and Ukraine signed a memorandum on strengthening cooperation in the railway sector. The memorandum envisages a joint logistics company of the two countries. Prime Minister Shmyhal noted that this will significantlyΒ  increase the volume of rail transportation of Ukrainian exports to the EU and the world market beyond.

Cities under attack. No Easter truce in Ukraine, while Russian missiles keep firing. Odesa was shelled on Saturday as Russian media previously β€˜announced’. As a result of the shelling, approximately 8 people were killed including a three-month baby, and 18 were injured. Another shelling of the residential areas of Kharkiv took place on the weekend, killing 3 people and injuring 6. In Chuhuiv, the Kharkiv region, Russian troops fired on a high-rise building and a private estate, killing a 59-year-old man and injuring three others, including an 11-year-old child. Over the weekend, Russian troops shelled Ukrainian border crossings in Chernihiv. The Sumy region, bordering Russia, was shelled during the weekend. Due to the continuous shelling in the Luhansk region, electricity was cut off at the water pumping station. The center of Lysychansk, as well as the cities of Novodruzhesk and Privillya, were left without water. Active shelling of Hirske, Zolote and Lysychansk continues – eight dead, two wounded, at least seven houses and a police station destroyed. Nine missiles were launched at Poltava region – the thermal power plant and oil refinery plant in Kremenchuk were damaged. In Pavlograd, Dnipropetrovsk region, three missiles hit railway infrastructure and industrial enterprise. Railway stations are further targeted with Russian missiles – on Monday morning five railway stations were hit. There are casualties, at least 16 passenger trains are delayed.

The UK Intelligence reports that despite the intensification of the attacks, Russian troops have made minor gains since announcing the goal to occupy Donbas; Ukrainian counterattacks continue to hamper their efforts. Despite Moscow’s statements about the capture of Mariupol, fierce battles continue. This further slows down the desired advance of Russian troops in the Donbas. Despite some β€˜successes’ of the Russians to capture settlements, the Armed Forces of Ukraine inflicted significant losses on Russian troops. Russia’s Ministry of Defense offers compensation to the families of the deceased soldiers. allegedly to silence them.

Cities under occupation. The Ukraine intelligence reports that Russian troops have rolled out forced mobilization of the medical workers in the occupied territories of Kharkiv oblast to provide medical support to injured Russian soldiers on the frontline. Forced mobilization of Ukrainian youth is reported in the occupied territories of Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions. In order to ensure mobilization measures, the possibility of leaving the Kherson region to the territories controlled by Ukraine is restricted for civilians.

Human rights. Evacuation corridors from Mariupol were thwarted over Easter weekend once again. About 200 Mariupol residents were going to leave for Zaporizhzhia, but when they arrived at the assembly point, the Russian military told them to disperse because of the upcoming shelling. Alternatively, Russian troops were spreading information about the possibility of evacuating to Russia.Β 

Russian troops are clearing the rubble of Mariupol Drama Theater to collect the bodies to destroy evidence. The bodies are carriedΒ  to the mass grave in Manhush. New satellite images as of April 20 show a second mass grave near Mariupol. The grave is a size of 45 by 25 meters and at least 1000 Mariupol citizens could potentially be buried there.Β 

Four filtration camps operate near Mariupol on the occupied territories. When proceeding with deportations, Russian troops first take people to filtration camps for thorough checking. In the camp, people are interrogated for many hours, as the camp personnel check their documents, phones, personal belongings, take photos and fingerprints. The main goal is to identify civil servants, representatives of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine, and the police. If the results of the check are satisfying, people receive the documents and are sent to Russia. Deported Ukrainians are sent to the depressed northern regions of Russia. On April 21, the Russians took 308 deported Mariupol residents to Vladivostok, 90 of whom were children. People were placed in schools and dormitories. Also, it is planned to place deported Ukrainians in different settlements of the Primorsky Krai. Currently, around 915 000 Ukrainians have been deported to Russia, including 160 000 thousand children and 2000 orphans.

Journalists of found evidence of the Russian Orthodox Church helping the Russian security forces deport Ukrainians to Russia. Journalists found proof of the Church keeping deported Ukrainians on the territory of their monasteries all across the country. There are surveillance cameras in the rooms in order to keep a non-stop watch. The information comes among all sources from the analysis of the emails leaked by the Anonymous group.Β 

Food security. The Ombudswoman of Ukraine reports on continuous efforts of Russian troops to thwart the sawing season in Ukraine, as well as to undermine food supply. In the occupied territories in the Kherson region, Russian troops confiscate grain and bring it to Crimea. Farmers are forced to work for the occupant troops, who threaten them to take away agricultural machinery, like happened, for example, in the Ganichesk district. In Novooleksiyivka village, Kherson region, the occupiers emptied grain storage and took all the grain to the occupied Crimea. The war has already destroyed some of the progress Ukraine has made in decades of scaling up its agriculture industry. Its wheat harvest in 2021 was the biggest since the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades earlier. Eventually, farmers will have to rebuild and rid their land of shells and chemical pollution. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe warned of the β€˜potentially disastrous’ environmental impact, including poor drinking water, chemical leaks and flooding – Bloomberg says.Β 

Disinformation. Another wave of disinformation about chemical weapons is rolling out. Russian media reports about the alleged chemical attacks on Ukrainian cities by Ukraine to blame Russia. The media refers to the provocation at chemical and biological facilities in Kharkiv and Kyiv, Zaporizhzhya NPP, Kamyanske. Following their β€˜tradition’ the Russian Ministry of Defense has announced further attacks on Odesa. After a missile strike on the city on Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry β€˜announced’ the use of chemicals in the area of ​​the Southern Odesa port. Russia β€˜warned’ of a possible chemical attack by Ukraine’s special services accusing them in advance. The most probable option is a provocation at chemical and biological facilities in Kharkiv and Kyiv, provocation at the Zaporizhzhya NPP is not excluded as well. Attacks on Kamyanske are also possible.

Energy security. The International Energy Agency prepared a brief guide on how citizens can reduce energy dependence on Russia and not increase their costs.

Decolonisation. Energy freedom is one of the frontlines targeted by Russia. Over the years, Russia was building up its efforts to increase the energy dependence of the neighboring countries, should it be in gas, or nuclear, or renewables. Ahead of the 36th anniversary of the explosion in Chernobyl NPP, Alexej Ovchinnikov, an environmental journalist prepared the analysis of the key energy sectors and the history of the growing dependence of Russia. Check our new article β€˜Breaking the Atomic Embrace’.

Russian threat outside Ukraine. Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies released a report β€˜Operation Z: The Death Throes of an Imperial Delusion’ on April 22.Β  The publication says that Ukrainian victory is possible, but will demand hard fighting for some time to come. In the meantime, the Russian society continues to radicalize and support the Russian offensive in Ukraine. Except for the major offensive in Donbas and a bigger scale summer offensive in Ukraine, there is a risk that Russian operations could pose threats in Moldova and then Serbia and beyond.Β 

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