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War in Ukraine. Daily update. Day 62 [10.00 am, 26.04.2022 🇬🇧🇪🇸🇩🇪🇫🇷🇨🇿🇭🇷🇦🇪🇯🇵🇬🇪🇱🇻]

Prepared by Sofia Oliynyk and Maryana Zaviyska 

Photo: Reuters

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Cities under attack. On Monday, Russian forces actively targeted the railway connections across the country in order to disrupt the arms supply. At least 5 attacks in the morning followed by a series of shelling during the day hit railway routes, killing one of the railway personnel. The attacks follow the announcement of the memorandum between Poland and Ukraine in order to facilitate supply chains between the countries, especially as Black Sea is blocked and air space closed.

Missiles hit Zaporizhzhia early on Tuesday morning. The UK Ministry of Defense says Zaporizhzhia is one of the targets in the current offensive in southern Ukraine. In Kharkiv, shelling continued on Monday. An apartment block and the residential house were destroyed. 4 civilians were wounded and 4 civilians were killed. There were also 5 wounded in the region. The Russians staged a provocation by shelling Bilopillya in the Sumy region from the territory of the Russian Federation. On April 25, two children aged 9 and 13 were killed as a result of Russia’s shelling of Lyman city in Donetsk region. The Luhansk region continues to suffer from regular rocket missiles — civilians were fired upon 17 times on April 25. Popasna, which withstood 4 powerful artillery attacks, Lysychansk — 2 attacks, and the Hirska Community suffered the most. The Russian troops continue to fight in the area of ​​Rubizhne and do not lose attempts to capture Popasna — the fighting does not stop. In Kherson and Donetsk shelling and explosions were recorded on the whole territory. 

Mariupol. No evacuation corridors from Mariupol were launched on Monday. Deputy Prime Minister Vereshchuk informed that no agreement has been reached on the  evacuation of the civilians  from Azovstal steel plant as the Russian side did not agree to stop the shelling. Therefore, Ukraine calls the United Nations to be the “initiator and guarantor” of any such deal. Ukrainian journalists have discovered the third mass grave near Mariupol. The satellite images show excavated trenches in the cemetery of Staryi Krym, which appeared on March 24 – after the village was occupied by Russian forces. In one month, its size has increased from 50-60 meters to 200 meters long. Security Services of Ukraine report Russia plans to use chemical weapons against civilians and military at Azovstal. According to the latest data, in order to avoid casualties among the servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces, the so-called “smoking out” of Ukrainian defenders and civilians from the company’s premises may be carried out. Therefore, chemical bombardment might take place. 

Cities under occupation. Russian occupation forces seized the Kherson City Council. ‘Armed men took away the keys and replaced the guards’, Kherson mayor Ihor Kolykhayev said. Russia occupied Kherson in early March, however, local authorities continued working under occupation. Russian troops force the residents of the village of Velyka Oleksandrivka in the Kherson region to leave the settlement, otherwise they threaten forced evacuation (deportation). The heads of two amalgamated territorial communities in the Zaporizhzhia region, Novouspenivska and Kyrylivska have been released from Russian captivity. In the occupied Melitopol in Zaporizhzhia region, Russian troops are blocking city exits to proceed with a “conscription campaign”. Citizens are also required to report the planned evacuation of civilians, the local authorities inform.

Human rights. Following Russia’s invasion, the widespread internal displacement of families in Ukraine has led to a precarious situation for vulnerable children, with reports of forced deportations and illegal adoptions to Russia raising particular concerns. According to reports by Ukrainian officials, Russia has forced over 150 000 children to leave Eastern Ukraine and enter Russia’s adoption system – although, it should be noted that these figures are based on limited information on the whereabouts of the children. “In violation of international humanitarian law and basic standards of humanness, Russia is engaged in state-organized kidnapping of children,” said the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry in a statement. Russian media reported that Ukrainian children from the Donbas region are being integrated into their adoption system. Aaron Greenberg, senior regional advisor for UNICEF in Europe and Central Asia, emphasized the need to halt intercountry adoption during this war. 

Foreign policy. US President Joe Biden announced his intention to nominate Bridget Brink as ambassador to Ukraine, who is currently serving in Slovakia. On Tuesday, the United States will host a meeting of more than 40 countries to discuss  Ukraine-related defense issues at Ramstein Air Base. The gathering follows the visit of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Kyiv over the last weekend. The main idea is to discuss and coordinate the further supply of military assistance to Ukraine, while Russian troops have been redeployed to the eastern and southern flank, aiming for further artillery offensive on the ground.  

Russia declared 40 German diplomatic staff personae non gratae  in response to the similar move from Berlin at the beginning of May. 

On April 25, explosions hit the Ministry of State Security in the Moldovan region of Transnistria. This follows threats from Russia that it could be pulled into their war on Ukraine, with an aim to join Transnistria through the Ukrainian coast to Russia.

Food security. UK Intelligence confirms that the reduction of the Ukrainian grain harvest for 2022 is likely to be around 20% lower than 2021 due to reduced sowing areas following the invasion. The situation will cause a global price increase, threatening food security of the economically vulnerable countries. 

The White House is considering attaching a global food aid request to the military aid package for Ukraine that President Joe Biden is preparing to send to Congress as a means to move the relief quickly, says Bloomberg. The initiative comes in response to the growing concerns of food poverty across the world due to the disruption of the grains imports from Ukraine and Russia, as well as fertilizers production. The aid agencies indicate that an additional 11 million people in West Africa could be confronting hunger in the next three months.

Energy security. Threats to nuclear safety in Ukraine continue. On Monday morning, two Russian cruise missiles were recorded over the cooling reservoir of the Khmelnytskyi NPP. Though there are no recorded violations of safety protocols of Khmelnytskyi NPP power units. However, close proximity of the missiles undermines overall safety.  

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stressed there’s a “serious” danger of nuclear conflict. Russia is regularly threatening with potential nuclear attack if western countries keep on “militarization” of Ukraine. In the eyes of Lavrov “NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war”. 

Denmark has become the first donor to the Fund set up by the Energy Community to rebuild Ukraine’s war-torn energy infrastructure. Consolidated funds will be used to rebuild energy infrastructure that has been damaged or destroyed due to the Russian war in Ukraine. 

Economic security. The UK announced the removal of the tariffs on imports covered by its trade agreement with Ukraine. The decision comes one year earlier than previously expected. Tariff measures are part of broad UK economic support to Ukraine, including £1bn in loan guarantees. The measure will boost Ukraine’s exports of products including barley, honey, tinned tomatoes and poultry. Meanwhile, further bans have been introduced on exports to Russia, namely “products and technology” that could be used for interception and monitoring equipment.

Culture. The Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab, at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville released an impact summary of losses to Ukraine’s cultural landscape – reports The Guardian. It has recorded signs of damage to 191 cultural landmarks and venues. Most of the destruction – believed to have been carried out by invading Russian troops – has concentrated on Ukrainian memorials and places of worship. Fifty-eight churches, mosques, temples and cathedrals have now been listed, along with 111 memorial sites and nine public monuments. The war has also seen two arts venues attacked – including the theater at Mariupol, images of which went around the world – and one archaeological site. News of any affected site goes from the Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab to Ukraine immediately, in case the damage to artifacts can be minimized, or at least documented on the ground. The deliberate targeting of religious and cultural sites is also prohibited by the 1954 Hague Convention. 

French director Michel Hazanavicius has responded to a request from Ukrainians to rename his new film. The comedy film about zombies was called ‘Z’ and was to open the Cannes Film Festival this year. Now it will open under another name – Coupez!

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