Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 429

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine in February 2022 after the Western-leaning Kiev government turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s calls for its neighbor to maintain its neutrality. In the middle of the mayhem, Moscow and Kiev are trying to hammer out a peaceful solution to the conflict. Follow the latest about the Russia-Ukraine conflict here:

Death toll rises to 16 as two more bodies found in Uman after Russian strikes

The death toll from Russia’s strikes across Ukraine on Friday morning has risen to 16 after two more bodies were found in Uman, with the total of those killed in the city now standing at 14.

Two other deaths were reported earlier in the city of Dnipro.

Cruise missiles were launched at Ukrainian cities in the early hours of Friday morning.

In Dnipro, a 31-year-old woman and her 2-year-old child died, according to Dnipropetrovsk Regional Prosecutor’s Office in a post on Telegram. Two 10-year-old children are among the dead in Uman, Ihor Taburets, the head of the Cherkasy region, said.

Missiles and drones were also shot down over the capital Kyiv, in what authorities called the first missile attack on the Ukrainian capital in 51 days.

Fragments from a missile intercepted over the Kyiv region hit a multi-story residential building and injured two people, including a 13-year-old girl, the Kyiv region police chief Andrii Nebytov stated.

Putin signs decree on granting citizenship to annexed regions

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree giving people living in parts of Russian-controlled Ukraine a path to Russian citizenship, but those who decline or do not legalise their status face potential deportation.

The decree extends to four Ukrainian regions Russia has claimed as its own and partially controls: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia.

Those who do not take action to apply for citizenship by July 1 of next year will be regarded as foreign citizens who are at risk of being deported.

The decree also allows the authorities to deport people from the four regions if they threaten Russia’s national security or participate in “unauthorised protests”.

UN raises alarm on rights violations in Ukraine

A United Nations committee has raised the alarm over alleged Russian rights violations, including enforced disappearances, torture, rape and extrajudicial executions.

“The Committee was deeply concerned about the grave human rights violations committed during the ongoing armed conflict by the Russian Federation’s military forces and private military companies,” the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said in a statement.

The committee listed abuses including the excessive use of force, arbitrary detentions, killings and the forcible transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia.

Russia has denied deporting Ukrainian children to Russia, saying it has evacuated them to keep them safe.

Russia claims overnight raids targeted Ukrainian army sites

The Russian Ministry of Defence says its forces launched long-range, high-precision strikes overnight on Ukrainian army reserve units and that all designated targets had been hit, the RIA news agency reports.

“The target of the strike was achieved. All designated facilities were struck. The advance of the enemy’s reserves into combat zones was thwarted,” ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said at a briefing.

While Russia denies targeting civilians, Ukrainian emergency services said at least 16 people, including three children, were killed in the attacks.

Ukraine wraps up preparations for counteroffensive

Ukraine is wrapping up preparations for a counteroffensive against Russian forces and is ready for it to go ahead, Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov has said.

“As soon as there is God’s will, the weather and a decision by commanders, we will do it,” he told an online news briefing.

“Globally speaking, we are to a high percentage ready,” he stated while giving no date on when the operation would begin.

Kyiv hopes the offensive will change the landscape of the war and allow its forces to claim back territory taken by Russia.

Reznikov added that Ukraine had received a lot of modern equipment, including arms that would serve as an “iron fist”.

West’s aim in Ukraine is to secure monopoly: Russian defence chief

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu says the West’s fundamental aim in Ukraine is to strategically defeat Russia and maintain its monopoly position, state-owned news agency RIA reported

He added that “almost all” NATO countries had deployed their military capabilities against Russia.

Speaking at a meeting of defence ministers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in India, Shoigu also stated the United States and its allies, “under the pretext of helping in the fight against terrorism, are trying to restore their military presence in Central Asia”.

Death toll from Russia’s missile strikes rises to 14

The death toll from Russia’s deadly, early-morning missile strikes across Ukraine on Friday has risen to 14, officials said, after two more bodies were pulled from the rubble of a residential building in the city of Uman.

“As of 11:50 a.m., the body of one more dead person was removed from the rubble of a residential building,” Ukraine’s state emergency service said on the Telegram messaging app.

The press office of Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs later added another body had been found.

The search operation in Uman continues.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter earlier that one apartment building in Uman had been “destroyed” and many others damaged before dawn on Friday.

According to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Ihor Klymenko, there were 46 apartments inside the building that was hit, 27 of which were completely destroyed. He said it may take a day to clear all the rubble.

Klymenko added authorities had set up tents for survivors and their neighbors to wait in “until the local authorities provide them with places of refuge.”

“At the moment, the authorities have provided everyone with food. There is also a hotline that can be contacted by relatives and friends of our citizens who lived in this and other houses that were damaged in this area,” he continued.

Bridget Brink, America’s ambassador to Ukraine, responded to Friday’s attack in a tweet.

“More lives tragically lost as Russia’s missiles hit another apartment building. Russia still hasn’t learned that its brutality only reinforces Ukrainian resolve and deepens our commitment to support in the fight,” she stated.

Missile attacks are “Russia’s response to all peace initiatives”: Ukrainian FM

Russia’s missile attacks on Ukrainian cities overnight is Moscow’s “response to all peace initiatives,” Ukraine’s foreign minister has said.

“Missile strikes killing innocent Ukrainians in their sleep, including a 2-year-old child, is Russia’s response to all peace initiatives. The way to peace is to kick Russia out of Ukraine. The way to peace is to arm Ukraine with F-16s and protect children from Russian terror,” Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Cruise missiles were launched at Ukrainian cities in the early hours of Friday morning, killing at least 12 people.

Missiles and drones were also shot down over the capital Kyiv, in what authorities called the first missile attack on the Ukrainian capital in 51 days.

Fragments from a missile intercepted over the Kyiv region hit a multi-story residential building and injured two people, including a 13-year-old girl, the Kyiv region police chief Andrii Nebytov stated.

Most missiles launched at Ukraine Friday were intercepted: Air force

Most missiles launched at Ukraine in the early hours of Friday morning were intercepted, the country’s air force said in a Telegram post.

The Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced it intercepted 21 out of 23 cruise missiles and destroyed two drones.

“On April 28, at about 4 a.m., the Russian occupiers attacked Ukraine from Tu-95 strategic aircraft from the Caspian Sea area,” it added.

“The anti-aircraft missile units of the Air Force of Ukraine, in cooperation with the air defense of other units of the Defense Forces, destroyed 21 of 23 Kh-101/Kh-555 cruise missiles, as well as two operational and tactical UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles],” it noted.

At least 12 people have been killed in the attacks, Ukrainian officials say. This includes a 31-year-old woman and her 2-year-old child who died in the attack in central Ukraine’s Dnipro, according to the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Prosecutor’s Office.

In the city of Uman in the central Cherkasy region, 10 people were killed when Russian rockets hit several high-rises, including residential buildings, according to Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs.

Zelensky sends condolences to victims of Friday’s Russian missile attacks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sent condolences to victims of Russian missile attacks across the country on Friday.

“People are still trapped under the rubble [in Uman],” Zelensky said in a post on his official Telegram channel.

“Unfortunately, there are casualties, including a child,” he added.

The president stated a child was killed following the shelling on Dnipro in central Ukraine, adding that “my condolences to everyone who lost their loved ones because of the Russian terror!”

Attacks were reported in the central Ukrainian cities of Dnipro, Uman in the Cherkasy region, and the city of Ukrainka, located some 45 kilometres (28 miles) south of the capital Kyiv.

“This Russian terror must face a fair response from Ukraine and the world. And it will,” he said, adding, “Every such attack, every evil act against our country and people brings the terrorist state closer to failure and punishment.”

12 people killed in Russian missile attacks on central Ukraine

Twelve people have now been confirmed dead in Russian missile attacks across Ukraine early Friday.

Three more bodies were pulled from the rubble of a building in the city of Uman, in central Ukraine.

That brings the total of people killed in the Uman attack to 10.

“Unfortunately, the death toll in Uman has increased. Rescuers have just pulled three more bodies of dead Uman residents from the rubble,” Ihor Klymenko, Minister of Internal Affairs, wrote on Facebook.

In central Ukraine’s Dnipro, a 31-year-old woman and her 2-year-old child died in the attack, according to the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Prosecutor’s Office.

Relationship with European countries at lowest level: Kremlin

The Kremlin announced that relations with European countries are at the lowest possible level and that each wave of expulsions of Russian diplomats reduces the space available for diplomacy.

Moldova, Sweden and Norway have all expelled Russian diplomats, prompting retaliatory measures from Moscow.

Wagner chief says ceasing fire was a ‘joke’

The head of Russia’s Wagner Group of mercenaries says he was joking when he said his men would suspend fire in Bakhmut to allow Ukrainian forces to show the city to visiting US journalists.

Earlier on Thursday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner’s founder, stated in an audio message published by his press service: “A decision has been taken to suspend artillery fire so that American journalists can safely film Bakhmut and go home.”

However, in a later audio message, Prigozhin noted: “Guys, this is military humour. Humour, and nothing more… It was a joke.”

European grain issues will happen again: Ukraine

Issues with Ukrainian exports to central Europe will happen again unless the EU sets out a clear position on its food import policy for the next five years, Ukrainian producers said.

Some EU member states have imposed temporary bans on Ukrainian agricultural products, after an excess affected the local market and angered farmers.

“The main problem for most European countries is agrarian Ukraine, which will enter the EU with 30 million hectares [74 million acres] of land,” stated Alex Lissitsa, who heads the association “Ukrainian Agribusiness Club”.

“They [EU] don’t know what to do with subsidies and they don’t know what to do with the domestic market,” he continued.

Lissitsa added Kyiv must negotiate with Brussels rather than with separate states and that a long-term solution was needed that would last five years when EU membership talks are expected.

Russia’s defence ministry claims four blocks in Bakhmut

Russia’s Defence Ministry says its forces have taken four blocks in northwestern, western and southwestern Bakhmut, Tass news agency reported.

According to Tass, the ministry’s official representative, Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov, told journalists, “In the Donetsk direction, the assault detachments captured four quarters in the northwestern, western and southwestern parts of the city of Artemovsk [Bakmut].”

“Airborne troops pin down the enemy on the northern and southern outskirts of the city and support the actions of the assault detachments,” Konashenkov added.

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