Russo-Ukraine War - 22 April 2022 - Day 58
On 24 February 2022, Ukraine was suddenly and deliberately attacked by land, naval and air forces of Russia, igniting the largest European war since the Great Patriotic War. The military buildup in preceeding months makes it obvious that the unprovoked and dastardly Russian attack was deliberately planned long in advance. During the intervening time, the Russian government had deliberately sought to deceive the world by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
"To initiate a war of aggression... is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." [Judgment of the International Military Tribunal]
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine in response to the appeal of the leaders of the "Donbass republics" for help. That attack is a blatant violation of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. Putin stressed that Moscow's goal is the demilitarization and denazification of the country.
Zelensky said Russia had rejected a proposal for a truce over the Orthodox Christian Easter period this weekend but added he still harbored hopes for peace. Zelensky made the remarks in his nightly video address. The Orthodox Easter service starts late on Saturday into Sunday morning.
Orthodox Christians have Holy Saturday, the last day before Easter, when believers traditionally bless Easter cakes, colored eggs, Easter cottage cheese and other Easter food in churches. Late in the evening on this day, solemn Easter services dedicated to the main Christian holiday - Easter, or the Resurrection of Christ, begin to be performed. The Orthodox Church on Great Saturday remembers the burial of Christ and his descent into hell to proclaim victory over death there and deliverance of souls who with faith awaited the coming of the Savior. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on Holy Saturday, as a rule, celebrates the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. At the liturgy, the priests dress not in dark, but in white vestments; passages from the Holy Scriptures read and hymns sung carry the joyful news of the Risen Christ.
The Russian army during the second stage of the special operation should establish full control over the Donbass, said Major General Rustam Minnekayev, deputy commander of the Central Military District. According to him, control over the Donbass will allow creating a land corridor to the Crimea and influencing the vital objects of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Control over the south of Ukraine will give the RF Armed Forces one more outlet to Transnistria, Minnekayev said. “Since the beginning of the second phase of the special operation, it has already begun just two days ago, one of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbass and southern Ukraine. This will provide a land corridor to the Crimea, as well as influence the vital objects of the Ukrainian economy ,” he said. Minnekayev also pointed out that the control of the Russian Armed Forces in the southern part of Ukraine would also allow access to Transnistria, which also recorded "facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population."
President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in the biggest battle of the war in Ukraine, declaring the port city of Mariupol "liberated" after nearly two months of siege. The US State Department however called Putin's claim to have “liberated” the port city "yet more disinformation from their well-worn playbook". State Department spokesman Ned Price told a news briefing "We understand that Ukraine's forces continue to hold their ground and there is every reason to believe that President Putin and his defense minister's show for the media that we saw in recent hours is even yet more disinformation from their well-worn playbook".
Ukrainian security forces who are blocked on the territory of the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, do not need a humanitarian corridor, they do not intend to surrender, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Reintegration of Uncontrolled Territories of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk said.
The beginning of the humanitarian pause will be the raising of white flags by Ukrainian formations at Azovstal, said Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the National Center for Defense Control of the Russian Federation. "The actual beginning of the humanitarian pause is the raising of white flags by the Ukrainian armed formations along the entire perimeter or in certain areas of Azovstal," he said.
Zelensky does not understand what is at stake, linking the negotiations with the Russian Federation and the situation of the Ukrainian military at Azovstal in Mariupol, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference. "I cannot qualify the statements of President Zelensky. I'm not sure that he understands what is at stake," he said, answering a related question. Representatives of the Kyiv regime do not allow people to use the humanitarian corridor provided by the Russian military and leave Azovstal, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Ukrainian defenses continued to hold along the majority of the front line. The Russian advance on the east bank of the Oskil river continued to progress again. Russia captured Lozove and fighting has now reached Rubsti and Yats'kivka. In the South, Russia took control of a number of villages south and west of Velyka Novosilka.
Rocket troops of the Ground Forces during the day during a special military operation hit nine Ukrainian targets, said the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov. The operational-tactical and army aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces hit 26 military facilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported. Also, the Russian Armed Forces hit 13 military facilities of Ukraine with high-precision missiles, destroying up to two companies of nationalists and a missile depot for the Osa-AKM air defense system.
The Russian Armed Forces "Caliber" destroyed up to a battalion of enemy personnel in the area of the Meliorativnoye railway station, the Russian Defense Ministry said. According to the agency, the Russian Armed Forces destroyed the Ukrainian S-300 complex and up to 80 nationalists with high-precision missiles. Russian air defense systems destroyed seven Ukrainian drones and a Tochka-U missile near Donetskoe, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Russia’s defence ministry has confirmed for the first time that the crew of the missile cruiser Moskva suffered casualties when it sank last week, the RIA news agency reported. “One serviceman was killed, another 27 crew members went missing,” the ministry said, adding that “the remaining 396 members” had been evacuated. Moscow had said the Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, sank after a fire sparked an ammunition blast, while Ukraine said it hit the vessel with an anti-ship missile.
The Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine brought charges of treason and "collaborationism" against the mayor of the city of Balakliya in the Kharkiv region, Ivan Stolbovoy, who decided to cooperate with the Russian military who occupied the city.
Zelensky accused Russia of planning to “falsify” an independence referendum in the partly occupied southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Zelensky urged residents of areas under occupation to not provide any personal information, like their passport numbers, to the Russian forces. “This is not to help you... This is aimed to falsify the so-called referendum on your land, if an order comes from Moscow to stage such a show,” the Ukrainian leader said. “This is the reality. Be careful.” Kyiv in early March accused Moscow of planning a referendum in Kherson similar to a 2014 Crimea poll, in which an overwhelming number of residents voted to join the Russian federation.
The Pentagon is looking for new avenues for US industry to accelerate production and build more capacity for proven, effective weapons that require minimal training and can be rapidly exported to Ukraine. The Department is exploring options which would accelerate production and build more capacity across the industrial base for weapons and equipment that can be rapidly exported, deployed with minimal training, and that are proven effective in the battlefield. To that end, the Department seeks information from across industry on weapons systems or other commercial capabilities related to air defense, anti-armor, anti-personnel, coastal defense, counter battery, unmanned aerial systems, and communications (e.g., secure radios, satellite internet).
Germany is trying to avoid NATO involvement in the hostilities in Ukraine, it is necessary to try to achieve de-escalation, said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. He noted that it would be difficult for the Armed Forces of Germany to supply Ukraine with any other weapons from their own stocks. The criticism against German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been unrelenting. He's been accused of stalling and breaking his promises over sending heavy weapons to Ukraine. As of early April, the latest information that has been made available, German spending for Ukraine's military defense stood at a mere €186 million, according to the Economic Affairs Ministry. That was mainly used to buy rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft rockets, machine guns, ammunition and protective gear — but not heavy weapons.
Per the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, heavy weapons refers to all tanks and armored vehicles, and all artillery 100 mm and above. Combat aircraft and combat helicopters are also classified as heavy weaponry.
Andriy Melnyk, Ukraine's ambassador to Germany, is one of the most vociferous critics of Berlin's approach. "The claim that the Bundeswehr would not be able to deliver anything to Ukraine is not comprehensible," Melnyk said recently. He said the force has around 400 Marders. Of those about 100 are used for training and could therefore be handed over to Ukraine immediately, he added.
Former NATO General Hans-Lothar Domröse is dismissive of the claims that extensive training would be required to master the Marder combat vehicles. "We're talking about seasoned Ukrainian commanders who have been fighting since 2014. They don't need to be told how to use them. Those who have been using the Soviet BMP-1 model can familiarize themselves with the Marder in under a week and operate it".
Germany is examining what extra maintenance and ammunition its stock of ageing Marder armored infantry fighting vehicles will need for Ukraine to use them, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said. Baerbock addressed criticism by allies and commentators of Germany's apparent foot-dragging on delivering the weaponry Kyiv says it needs to fend off Russian attacks. "There are no taboos for us with regard to armoured vehicles and other weaponry that Ukraine needs," she told a news conference with her Estonian counterpart.
Scholz has said Berlin is releasing more than €1 billion to enable Ukraine to finance purchases of military equipment from Germany. He listed anti-tank weapons, air defense equipment and ammunition as examples, but did not mention the tanks and planes Ukraine has been asking for. Bild reported that German defense companies initially offered to supply heavy weapons such as Marders, Boxer armored vehicles, Leopard 2 tanks and self-propelled howitzers. However, according to the daily tabloid, those items now appear to have been crossed off the list. The defence ministry's list of possible arms exports from the German arms industry to Ukriane had been cut from 48 to 24 pages. All heavy weapons the industry wanted to sell to UA are gone.
The workaround for Germany appears to be a plan to backfill the stocks of allied countries that have weaponry to spare with modern German-made gear. As Germany's stocks are reportedly depleted, Eastern European NATO countries that still have Soviet-era weapons in their possession would make these weapons available, as has already happened in several cases.
British authorities intend to send tanks to Poland in connection with the events in Ukraine, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson said. “We are sending tanks to Poland so that they [the Polish leadership] can send their T-72s to Ukraine,” the head of the British government said. The Ukrainian military who arrived in the UK are being trained in the use of Mastiff, Husky and Wolfhound combat armored vehicles. “It is only sensible that they get requisite training to make best use of it,” the spokesman said. “We are always conscious of anything perceived to be escalatory but clearly what is escalatory is the actions of (Vladimir) Putin’s regime.”
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke in an interview with the Ouest-France newspaper about plans to send CAESAR 155-mm self-propelled artillery mounts to Ukraine. "France will send 155-mm self-propelled guns to Ukraine," Macron said. "We must follow this path without crossing the red line, which is not to be a party to the conflict." He also spoke about the supply of anti-tank missile systems to Ukraine.
The Government of Canada has provided Ukraine with heavy artillery. This is stated in a statement published by the Canadian Ministry of Defense. It notes that we are talking about 155-mm M777 howitzers with a firing range of up to 30 km. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the plan to ship "heavy artillery" earlier this week, but offered no details on what the Canadian military would be donating. "Their most recent ask was exactly for that, for heavy artillery, for reasons of operational security," Trudeau said. "I can't go into the details at this point on how and what we're getting to them exactly." Four of the 37 howitzers Canada purchased during the Afghan war have been earmarked for shipment.
Belgium intends to supply Ukraine with M109 anti-tank missiles and howitzers. This was reported by the newspaper Le Soir. The publication also noted that since February 24, 2022, Belgium has provided Ukraine with military assistance worth €76 million, including 5 thousand FNC assault rifles, 200 anti-tank weapons, 3.8 thousand tons of fuel and lubricants. A batch of night vision devices and other types of equipment is also awaiting shipment. According to Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder, these weapons "will be specially purchased from stocks held by Belgian arms trading and manufacturing companies."
The number of residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics who have arrived in the Rostov Region since the beginning of the evacuation of the civilian population from the war zone has exceeded 720,000 people, Deputy Minister of Regional Policy and Mass Communications of the Rostov Region Sergey Tyurin said.
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