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War in Ukraine. Daily update. Day 87 [10.00 am, 21.05.2022🇬🇧]

Prepared by Sofia Oliynyk and Maryana Zaviyska 

Photo: Official telegram channel of the head of the Kharkiv regional state administration Oleg Synegubov.

Cities under attack. Missile attacks were recorded in the Kharkiv region. Russian forces launched a massive missile attack on Lozova House of Culture. At least seven people, including an 11 years old child, were injured. During the day people in Kharkiv reported sounds of explosions and fire due to the missile attack on the city. 8 Russian strikes in total were recorded at the cross-border territories of the Chernihiv and Sumy region. In the Poltava region, another missile attack hit an infrastructure object. As a result of a rocket attack on the town of Malyn in the Zhytomyr region, an infrastructure object and almost 100 houses have been damaged; three people have been injured. Heavy battles continue in the Luhansk region, head of the Regional military administration reports. Six people were killed due to the battles near Severodonersk. Released photos of Rubizhne show the scale of the destruction, which shows the attacks did not leave a building untouched. 

The main highways to the settlements of Kyiv region and the main roads in towns have been completely demined. At the same time, it will take 5 to 7 years to demine the entire territory of Ukraine — said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine. 

Cities under occupation. In the temporarily occupied territories of the Kharkiv region, Russian forces continue to block the work of Ukrainian mobile operators, distribute propaganda materials, and try to broadcast Russian TV and radio channels. In Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia region, the Russian forces are trying to promote a new ideological direction. Banners dedicated to the 220th anniversary of the Tavria province began to appear in the city, reports regional administration. In addition, in Melitopol, pensioners are offered 10 000 rubles in exchange for personal data. In the Kherson region, the Russian military has blocked all exits from the temporarily occupied Kherson (Southern Ukraine), except for the annexed Crimea.  Patrols in the city have been intensified, the number of checkpoints has increased.

Ombudswoman of Ukraine Denisova reports the preparation of the Russian forces to prepare for the illegal annexation of the occupied territories of Ukraine. Due to the resistance of the local population  against the so-called ‘referendum’ in the Kherson region Russian authorities have submitted a bill to expand the powers of the president, in particular, to establish temporary administrations outside the Russian Federation in the occupied territories of Ukraine. Therefore such temporary administrations could be established at the occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia oblasts.

Mariupol. Russian authorities claim the territory of the Azovstal steel plant has been completely ‘liberated’. The representative of the Russian government said in a statement that around 2,439 defenders had surrendered in the past few days, including 531 in the final group. The Institute of the War Studies indicates that there are discrepancies between the data released by Russian authorities and ICRC. As the report says, the Russians might claim that they have captured more Ukrainian soldiers than they actually did in order to maximize the number of Russian prisoners that can be exchanged should they agree on a prisoner swap with Ukraine. The Russian leadership may also seek to avoid the embarrassment of admitting that their forces have been locked in a months-long siege by ‘hundreds’ rather than ‘thousands’ of Ukrainian defenders. 

The Russian militaries have completed the removal of the debris of the Drama Theater in Mariupol. The Russian military dismantled the rubble, removed the equipment and opened the territory. This makes it impossible to count the exact number of killed. The bodies of the dead most likely are later buried in a mass grave in Manhush, Donetsk region.

In Mariupol, local authorities are planning to Russify the educational system completely from September. Advisor to the City Mayor, Andriushchenko reports that only three subjects will remain in the imposed Russian education system: Russian language and literature, history of Russia, and Math. ’Teachers no longer have a global choice, they are directly and indirectly threatened with ‘negative’ consequences, from filtration camps to the restriction of the ‘humanitarian’ aid’, – the Mariupol City Council reported.

Crimea. Crimean artist Bogdan Ziza disappeared after holding a protest in Yevpatoria, Crimea. According to Bogdan’s acquaintances, the artist doused the doors of the City Administration in occupied Yevpatoria with blue-yellow paint and tried to set fire to the facade of the building with a Molotov cocktail. Bogdan, apparently, was detained. There is no information about his whereabouts, as well as information about whether Bogdan has a lawyer. The pro-Russian government channel Krym 24 published a video in which a man who calls himself Bogdan Ziza repents of his deed and expresses a desire to ‘make amends with loyal overwork’. Bogdan’s relatives believe that Ziza was beaten and forced under pressure to write down a confession.

Foreign policy. G7 Finance Ministers pledged to provide $19.8 billion of budget aid to Ukraine this year as the country struggles to continue functioning amid destruction wrought by Russia’s invasion, Bloomberg reports.

At the G7 Finance Ministers Meeting and Central Bank Governors Meeting, Canada has announced an additional loan of $250 million to Ukraine through the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF). The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, disbursed €600 million in Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) to Ukraine. These funds are provided to Ukraine in the form of long-term loans on highly favorable terms that contribute to financing part of the sizable funding gap of the country.

Rebuilding Ukraine. Russia must pay compensation for the damage its aggression has inflicted on Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his daily video address to the nation, calling on allies to ‘create a mechanism’ for reparations. The Ukrainian president said countries should seize Russian assets on their territories and create a fund that will help cover war losses, as well as setting up an international commission to look into compensation claims. Ukraine estimated its direct losses at about $100 billion as of the beginning of May.

Energy security. Japan announced that it will donate 2 million euros ($2.1 million) to the International Atomic Energy Agency for its efforts to ensure the safety of Ukrainian nuclear facilities that have come under Russian attack. ‘Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian nuclear facilities are absolutely impermissible. Japan, which suffered the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, condemns the acts in the strongest terms,’ – said Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi. 

Media. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro presented a recent report on the situation with freedom of media in the context of the Russian war in Ukraine. In the battle zones, media workers from Ukraine and from all over the world are under the threat due to the attacks of the Russian forces and authorities. Journalists were injured, abducted, attacked, and even lost their lives in the course of reporting. The report indicates the disappearance, detention, and abduction of Ukrainian journalists or their relatives by the Russian military. The report mentions the illegal detention and disappearance of 21 journalists and activists.

Disinformation. Italy’s parliamentary committee for security, Copasir, last week opened a probe into disinformation, in response to widespread concerns that Italian news outlets are being used to spread the pro-Putin line – reports POLITICO. In perhaps the most egregious example of a top Russian official exploiting western media for disinformation, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov appeared in an interview on a privately-owned TV channel founded by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. 

Check out Chatham House’s podcast ‘War in Ukraine: Disinformation and the cyber war’ on how disinformation and cyberattacks form a significant part of Russia’s strategy.

Reading corner. 

The Cannes Film Festival is in the full swing. Learn about Ukraine-related and Ukrainian films in our selection of articles. 


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