Day 417 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Second Easter for Kyiv in Conditions of War
Day 417 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- Ukraine welcomes a second Easter in conditions of war
- Kremlin: "Wagner" advances in Bakhmut. We captured two more districts
- In his Easter greeting, Vladimir Putin highlighted the creative role of the Russian Orthodox Church
- "Wagner" returned 100 Ukrainian prisoners of war to their homeland
- Poland and Hungary prohibited the transit of Ukrainian grain and food
- The EC rejects bans on the import of Ukrainian grain from Hungary and Poland
- On Easter, Pope Francis called for peace in Ukraine
Ukraine welcomes a second Easter in conditions of war
Ukraine welcomes Easter for the second time in conditions of war. A particle of the Grace Fire was brought from Jerusalem there as well. It was transported by plane first to Romania from Israel and from there by land to Kyiv.
In Kyiv, at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, the Easter midnight service was led by the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Onuphrius. The other Ukrainian church, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, held an Easter service at the Saint Archangel Michael Monastery in downtown Kyiv.
Despite the holiday, Russian forces struck the Mykolaiv region last night. The area of Snegurovka, which was liberated by the Ukrainian defenders in November 2022, came under fire. On the eve of the Resurrection of Christ, Russia has also carried out an airstrike on the northern regions of Ukraine. Sumy and Chernihiv regions were attacked, Ukrainian agencies report.
And in his evening video address, Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on NATO for security guarantees for Ukraine before its planned membership in the organization. The Ukrainian president raised the issue in a telephone conversation with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron.
"I am convinced that our joint position - of all participating countries in the upcoming summit in Lithuania can be just as ambitious as it is necessary for European security. Effective security guarantees are needed for Ukraine, and for the international order, based on of rules even before we joined the Alliance".
Zelensky also announced that an agreement was signed between the member countries of the joint investigation team in Ukraine. Their actions include proving Russian war crimes, as well as those that can be qualified as "genocide."
In Russia, Patriarch Kirill celebrated the midnight liturgy for the Resurrection of Christ in the Moscow Cathedral "Christ the Saviour". The liturgy was also attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who held a candle and crossed himself several times during the Holy Liturgy. Before the start of the liturgy, Patriarch Kirill appealed to Russians and Ukrainians to do everything possible for an early end to the conflict in Ukraine.
Kremlin: "Wagner" advances in Bakhmut. We captured two more districts
The Russian private military company "Wagner" has seized two more areas in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced today, Reuters reported.
Wagner troops have advanced, seizing two neighborhoods on the northern and southern outskirts of Artyomovsk (the Russian name for the city), the department said. Reuters notes that it cannot confirm the information through independent sources.
"The remaining units of the Ukrainian armed forces in the city are retreating and deliberately destroying the infrastructure and residential buildings," said the spokesman of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov, TASS reported.
In its briefing yesterday, British intelligence noted that Ukrainian troops had been forced to withdraw from parts of Bakhmut as Russia launched a new offensive with intense artillery fire over the past two days.
In his Easter greeting, Vladimir Putin highlighted the creative role of the Russian Orthodox Church
In his Easter greeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted the "creative role" of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose head Patriarch Kirill supported Russia's military actions in Ukraine. Putin attended the solemn service in the Cathedral Church of Christ the Savior in the company of Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin
In the Easter greeting published on the Kremlin's official website, Vladimir Putin notes with "deep satisfaction the creative and ascetic role of the Russian Orthodox Church, aimed at preserving the rich cultural and historical heritage, solving the key social problems, strengthening the family, educating the youth and harmonizing of interreligious and international relations".
The text emphasizes that today, in the "conditions of serious challenges", the church is actively engaged in charity and helps people to find "solid spiritual support".
Meanwhile, the spokesman of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Igor Konashenkov, announced that the assault units of the private military company "Wagner" have liberated two neighborhoods in the northwestern and southeastern parts of the city of Bakhmut. As well as that units of the airborne troops blocked the enemy's actions on the flanks. I will remind you that Russian forces have been trying to capture Bakhmut since last summer.
"Wagner" returned 100 Ukrainian prisoners of war to their homeland
The Russian private military company Wagner has returned at least 100 Ukrainian prisoners of war to Ukrainian forces on the occasion of the Orthodox Easter, according to a video released today by the company's founder Yevgeny Prigozhin. The footage shows a group of Ukrainian prisoners who are told they will be returned to celebrate the Orthodox Easter, BTA reports.
More than 100 men, some limping and others on stretchers, were shown in the clip walking in a line on a muddy road while a man mounted on a tank held a white flag.
Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's office, announced that 130 Ukrainian prisoners of war had been released and returned home in a "big Easter exchange". It is not known how many Russians were released.
The Russian private army "Wagner" is gradually pushing the Ukrainian forces out of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. They claim to control most of the city, although Ukraine has repeatedly disputed their claims.
Poland and Hungary prohibited the transit of Ukrainian grain and food
The Polish ban on the import of Ukrainian grain and other foods will also apply to the transit of these products through the country, the Minister of Development and Technology announced today, quoted by Reuters.
Poland and Hungary announced yesterday that they had decided to ban imports from neighboring Ukraine to protect the local agricultural sector after large-scale shipments pushed down prices in the region. The Polish ban came into effect last night.
"The ban is complete, it also includes a ban on transit through Poland," Waldemar Buda announced on Twitter, adding that negotiations will be held with the Ukrainian side to create a system that will ensure the passage of goods through Poland, but not their arrival the local market.
Ukraine's Ministry of Agrarian Policy insisted yesterday that the Polish ban contradicted existing export agreements and called for negotiations to resolve the issue.
According to media in Kyiv, tomorrow Ukrainian and Polish ministers will meet in Poland to discuss a transit agreement.
Orbán's government did not provide details on when the ban would take effect, but only clarified that it was aimed at avoiding serious damage to local farmers.
After Russia's invasion of Ukraine blockaded some Black Sea ports, large quantities of Ukrainian grain, which is cheaper than that produced in the EU, ended up in central European countries due to a logistical impasse, hitting prices and sales for local producers.
In a letter to the European Commission last month, the prime ministers of five eastern European countries said the scale of the increase in products such as grain, eggs, chicken, sugar and oilseeds was unprecedented and that tariffs on Ukrainian agricultural imports should be considered.
The EC rejects bans on the import of Ukrainian grain from Hungary and Poland
The European Commission considers Hungary and Poland's unilateral bans on grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine unacceptable, despite overcrowding in their own markets that is ruining local farmers. This was announced by the press service of the European Commission.
"The European Commission is aware that Poland and Hungary have announced the introduction of bans on the import of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine. In this context, we consider it important to remind that EU trade policy is the exclusive competence of the entire community, so any unilateral actions are inadmissible," the press service announced.
On Easter, Pope Francis called for peace in Ukraine
Pope Francis congratulated Orthodox Christians on Easter in his traditional Sunday sermon to the faithful in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, reports BTA. He used the occasion to call for peace.
"Wars continue and continue to sow death. Let us pray for their victims, let us ask God that the world does not experience the horrors of violent death at the hands of man," Francis said.
"I am also thinking of our brothers and sisters who are celebrating Easter today in Russia and Ukraine. I wish God to be close to them and help them achieve peace," added the Pope.
During his sermon, the head of the Roman Catholic Church also expressed his concern about the events in Sudan. He called on the parties to "lay down their arms and take the path of dialogue".
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