| 19 April 2024, Friday |

Heavy fighting reported on the outskirts of Donetsk

Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said Russia’s shelling of a bus stop in the frontline town of Toretsk resulted in eight fatalities and left four wounded.

Overnight fighting was also reported near Pisky, to the west of the former Donetsk airport.

On Telegram, Kyrylenko said, “According to preliminary information, there was artillery fire. They hit a public transport stop, where there was a crowd of people at that time.” He also pleaded with residents to evacuate in “a timely fashion.”

Russian-backed forces are attempting to force Ukraine to abandon military positions in the suburbs of Donetsk, both countries say. The city of Donetsk has been controlled by Russian-backed forces since 2014 but many areas in the Donetsk region are held by Ukraine’s military.

Russian forces accused the Ukrainians of hitting the center of Donetsk near a theater where the send off ceremony for a late officer in the Russian-backed proxy forces that seized control of the city in 2014 was held. Ukraine has denied Russia’s accusations.

Mykolaiv’s mayor said early morning shelling damaged apartment buildings in two districts.

Mykolaiv is the closest major population center near where Ukrainian forces hope to launch a counter-offensive, making it a frequent target of Russia’s incoming attacks.

Across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine reported 60 rockets hit the city of Nikopol, with a population of 107,000. Some residents were left without electricity following the attacks.

The US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believes the intention is to place Ukrainian forces in a difficult position.

“Either Ukraine returns fire, risking international condemnation and a nuclear incident (which Ukrainian forces are unlikely to do), or Ukrainian forces allow Russian forces to continue firing on Ukrainian positions from an effective `safe zone,”’ a situational report by ISW said.

Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Defense, said the Russian military struck two Ukrainian munitions depots near the village of Novoivanivka in the Zaporizhzhia region along with a fuel depot near the Zaporizhzhia railway station.

Elsewhere, in northeastern Kharkiv, officials said missiles launched from Russia hit industrial areas near the border.

Ukraine said the towns of Marinka and Krasnohorivka were also under siege as the city of Avdiivka was shelled.
Amnesty International says Ukrainian military endangering civilians, drawing rebuke from Kyiv
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International released a new report on Wednesday, criticizing the actions of the Ukrainian military.

Amnesty claims the Ukrainian military is endangering civilians by basing its forces in civilian areas.

“We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas,” Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said in the report.

The report was swiftly rebuked by leading Ukrainian politicians.

“This behavior of Amnesty International is not about finding and reporting the truth to the world, it is about creating a false equivalence — between the offender and the victim, between the country that destroys hundreds of thousands of civilians, cities, territories and a country that is desperately defending itself,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a video posted on Facebook.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Amnesty is “participating in (Russia’s) disinformation and propaganda campaign.”

UN nuclear watchdog head appeals for access to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant
Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), appealed for access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest. It was captured by Russian forces early in the conflict; they have since been accused by Ukraine and the US of using it as a base from which to launch attacks.

In the interview, with Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, Grossi said that contact with Europe’s largest nuclear plant Zaporizhzhia was “fragile” and that communications were not functional every day.

“We know of allegations that live ammunition is stored in the plant, that there are attacks on the power plant,” Grossi said. “Frankly if I don’t have access, I can’t determine that. There are contradictions between the accounts of the Russian and Ukrainian sides.”

A Russian-installed official in Ukraine said on Wednesday that Ukraine had repeatedly used weapons delivered from Western countries to attack the plant. Two of the six reactors at Zaporizhzhia are operating.

On Monday at a nuclear non-proliferation conference in New York, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia was behaving at “the height of irresponsibility,” and was using the plant as a “nuclear shield” to launch attacks and cover its forces in Russia.
Speaking in his native Norway, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia’s attack on Ukraine was an “attack on the current world order.”

“It is in our interest that this kind of aggressive policy does not succeed,” he said.

Stoltenberg said that Russia cannot win the war in Ukraine, which has created the most dangerous situation in Europe since World War II.

He added that if Russia acted in a similar manner against a NATO member state, the entire alliance would react. If Russia succeeds in Ukraine, Stoltenberg said Russia could attack more countries because “Putin will have confirmation that violence works.”

Stoltenberg was speaking at Utoya island, where the youth wing of Norway’s Labor Party has its summer retreat and a white supremacist, Anders Behring Breivik, carried out an attack that along with a bombing in central Oslo resulted in 77 deaths, 8 in Oslo and 69 on Utoya.

Stoltenberg is the former Prime Minister of Norway. The far-right attack on Utoya island occurred while Stoltenberg was in office.

US accuses Russia of fabricating evidence in Olenivka prison attack
US intelligence officials told the Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity that Russia was working to fabricate evidence around last week’s attack on the Olenivka prison that killed dozens of prisoners of war.

The officials said Russia was hoping to make it appear as if Ukrainian forces were responsible for the July 29 attack in a part of Donetsk under control by Russian proxy forces that left at least 53 dead and scores more wounded.

The Russian military has claimed that rocket launchers provided by the US were used in the strike. The Ukrainian military has strenuously denied the accusation and said it did not launch any rocket or artillery strikes on Olenivka.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that he was launching a fact-finding mission after requests from both Russia and Ukraine to investigate the deaths at the prison. He said the terms of that mission are being prepared and would be sent to Kyiv and Moscow for approval.

Prisoners of war killed at Olenivka included members of the Azov battalion captured during the fall of Mariupol.

Kremlin wants documents showing Nord Stream 1 turbine not sanctioned
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a regular call that Russia’s Gazprom would like to see a Nord Stream 1 turbine undergoing maintenance repairs in Canada returned, however the documents confirming it is not sanctioned are still missing.

  • DW