Day 54 of Putin's war. Enemy forming offensive group in Donbas, missile strikes hit Lviv, air raid sirens in Kyiv

18 April, 09:58 AM
Ukrainian servicemen and rescue workers examine the site of a missile impact in Lviv. (Photo:REUTERS/Roman Baluk)

Ukrainian servicemen and rescue workers examine the site of a missile impact in Lviv. (Photo:REUTERS/Roman Baluk)

April 18, is the 53rd day of Ukraine's defense against full-scale Russian invasion. Despite widespread destruction in towns and cities across the country, Ukraine continues to resist enemy attacks.

19:14 Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has awarded the 64th brigade, which occupied Bucha in Kyiv Oblast in March, the honorary title of "Guards." The document says that the Russian invaders received the title "for mass heroism and courage." Bucha is the site of atrocities against Ukrainian civilians carried out by the Russian army. A total of 403 civilians have so far been identified as having been murdered by Russian soldiers, according to the town’s mayor. Between 85 and 90% were killed execution-style, with a gunshot to the head.

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19:12 The Armed Forces of Ukraine see signs that the enemy is preparing to launch an offensive in the east, the General Staff has reported.

The main points from the General Staff update as of 1800:

·        The enemy is continuing to carry out missile and bomb strikes on industrial and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, having concentrated their main efforts on attempting to establish full control over the Donetsk and Luhansk oblast, and hold onto previously occupied territories;

·        The Armed Forces of Ukraine are detecting signs of the beginning of an offensive operation by the Russians in the Eastern Operational Zone. In the Slobozhansky and Donetsk operational regions, the enemy has stepped up the offensives and assaults in some areas;

·        The enemy is forming additional units in Russia’s Rostov Oblast and in Ukraine’s temporarily occupied Crimea in order to use them to support the combat operations of the main forces, and to protect important objects in the occupied territories. Approximate date of formation – by April 24;

·        It is possible that in the regions of Russia bordering on Ukraine, the invaders will resort to provocations and will carry out airstrikes on civilian objects;

·        In the Slobozhansky direction, Russian invaders are continuing to partially block Kharkiv and destroy residential areas of the city with artillery fire. It is expected that the enemy will continue to attempt an offensive in the Izyum-Slavyansk and Izyum-Barvenkovo ​​areas;

·        In Russia’s Belgorod Oblast near the border with Ukraine, the enemy is deploying helipads;

·        In the Donetsk and Tavriysky areas, the main efforts of the Russians are concentrated on the capture of Lyman, Kreminna, Popasna and Rubizhne, as well as on establishing full control over Mariupol. The battles for Mariupol continue, the invaders are carrying out an assault in the area of ​​the seaport;

·        The enemy has stepped up its offensive in the Severodonetsk, Popasnyansky, Kurakhovsky and Zaporizhzhya directions, and is continuing to build up tank and artillery units;

·        In the Yuzhnobuhsky area, the Russians are trying to hold their lines and fire at the positions of the Ukrainian defenders. The invaders are trying to establish full control over Kherson region, unsuccessfully attacking in the area of ​​Oleksandrivka;

·        The enemy is continuing to violate the norms of International Humanitarian Law, is not allowing the evacuation of civilians from occupied settlements, is refusing to agree to opening humanitarian corridors, and is shelling places near possible evacuation routes;

·        In temporarily occupied territories, the invaders are steal equipment, machinery and products of local enterprises and exporting them Russia, as well as laying mines in the fields;

·        Ukrainian soldiers are holding certain lines, destroying enemy forces, and liberating the territory of Ukraine from the invaders in certain areas.

18:35 More than 20,000 residents of Mariupol have been taking to filtration camps in Russia, the Ukrainian parliament’s human rights Ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova reports. According to Denisova, the invaders plan to storm the territory of the Azovstal plant, where at least 1,000 civilians are sheltering. The civilians don't want to leave the shelter because their houses have been destroyed and they could be sent to filtration camps, Denisova said.

18:12 The enemy has reported the death of a captain of the 3rd rank of the Russian Black Sea Fleet after a battle in Ukraine.

The so-called head of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, said that in Russian-occupied Crimea the funeral of Alexander Chirva, the commander of the large landing ship Caesar Kunikov of the 197th brigade of landing ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, has been held. Chirva was a native of Ukrainian Sevastopol, a captain of the 3rd rank, who participated in the war in Syria in 2015-2016. He died "from wounds received in battle" with Ukrainian defenders, Russian sources reported.

On the morning of March 24, in the port of Berdyansk, temporarily occupied by Russian invaders, the Russian large landing ship Saratov was destroyed (at first, information appeared that the ship was the Orsk) by a Ukrainian missile strike. The ships Caesar Kunikov and Novocherkassk were damaged in the attack.

18:09 Ukrposhta is imposing restrictions on the sale of its new stamps showing a Ukrainian soldier gesturing defiantly to the now sunken Russian warship the Moskva. According to the press service of the postal operator, almost half a million stamps were sold in five days. The total issue is 1 million copies, and there will be no further reprints of the stamps, so "each stamp will retain its historical value," Ukrposhta said. The stamps with the ship have already gone on sale in all regional centers of Ukraine, apart from in Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and in Crimea (a reserve of the stamps has been set aside for them).

17:46 A three-year-old boy was one of those wounded in a Russian missile attack on the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, the head of the Lviv regional military administration, Maxim Kozitsky, has reported. The child and his mother, internally displaced persons from Kharkiv, were in a hotel at the time of a missile impact. Shrapnel from a window cut off part of a finger on the boy's hand. The child is now in hospital, and doctors assess his condition as moderate.

Three other casualties from the missile strikes are in intensive care, with some undergoing surgery. Doctors say that as a result of the explosions people received multiple injuries. In particular, many victims had head and brain injuries. The average age of the patients is 35-45 years.

There were about 20 people at the service station that was hit by a Russian missile. Seven civilians were killed, four of them service station workers.

17:13 The goals of the invaders have not changed – they are preparing for an offensive in the east in order to take control of the entire territories of the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, Ministry of Defense of Ukraine spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk has said. He said the Russian would also try to strengthen the so-called land corridor from occupied Crimea to mainland Russia.

17:04 In a letter to Pope Francis, the commander of the besieged Ukrainian marines in Mariupol has asked the Pontiff to help save the inhabitants of the city. The commander of the 36th separate marine brigade, Sergei Volyn, who, along with other soldiers, is still defending the city, wrote to the Pope in connection with the critical humanitarian situation in Mariupol, which has been under siege by invading Russian forces for more than a month. The letter was made available to Ukrainian news website Ukrainskaya Pravda.

16:52 The head of the Lugansk regional military administration, Serhiy Haidai, explained on the Dom TV channel why Ukrainian troops withdrew from the city of Kreminna, Luhansk Oblast, which has now been captured by Russian invaders.

“Our troops withdrew tonight. The fact is that after almost two months of defending (the town), everything was very broken, the orcs (Russians) shot hard and had already begun not even to go on the attack, not to try to make breakthroughs, but simply begun to level everything to the ground ... There is no need to look for (any blame) here. It just makes no sense to stand in one place, to die for everyone, without causing significant damage to the enemy. There is no heroism in that. Therefore, it was decided to withdraw, regroup and continue to fight.” 

16:11 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Irina Vereshchuk has demanded that the Russian leadership open a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol, Donetsk region.

16:08 In the near future, Spain will reopen its embassy in Kyiv, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said. “We will reopen the Spanish Embassy in Ukraine in the near future, in the coming days, as further evidence of the commitment of the Spanish government, and Spanish society, to the people of Ukraine,” Sanchez said.

15:32 Rescuers have pulled out the bodies of more than 70 people from rubble in Chernihiv Oblast, Chernihiv Regional State Administration reports.

15:11 Two people killed during shelling of playgrounds in Kharkiv, prosecutors have reported. According to the prosecutor's office, today at 1150 Russian invaders fired at the Osnovyansky district of Kharkiv. Shells fell on playgrounds near residential buildings. As a result of the shelling, a man and a woman were killed. A number of houses were also damaged.

14:24 Kreminna in Luhansk Oblast has been completely captured by invading Russian forces, according to the head of the Kreminna military administration, Oleksander Dunets. He said that the fighting for the city lasted for three days. According to him, several Ukrainian units are now holding lines on the outskirts of the city to allow Ukraine’s troops to regroup. Russia involved a large number of armored vehicles in the fighting, he said.

13:44 The Russian army killed every fifth inhabitant of Bucha who remained in the city after its occupation by the enemy, the city’s mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said.

⚡⚡⚡ 13:06 Treason suspect Viktor Medvedchuk has asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian dictator Putin to exchange him for the defenders and residents of Mariupol. Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian opposition MP who escaped house arrest at the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, was recently recaptured by Ukraine SBU security service as he was attempting to cross the Ukrainian border into Russian-controlled Transnistria in Moldova.

Video of Medvechuk's appeal released by Ukraine's SBU security service.

12:53 The number of people killed in this morning’s enemy missile attack on the western Ukrainian city of Lviv has increased to seven, the head of Lviv regional military administration Maxim Kozitsky said. Of the 11 wounded, three are in a serious condition. One child has minor injuries. Information about the dead and injured could change, Kozitsky said.

12:23 Russian occupying troops have taken control of Kreminna, but fighting in the city continues, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai reports. He said evacuation of civilians from the city is impossible. However, people continue to be evacuated from Severodonetsk, Lisychansk, Popasna, Gorny and Rubizhne.

12:15 Ukrainian forces have eliminated the commander of the 49th anti-aircraft missile brigade of Russia, Ivan Grishi, the Ukrainian military has said.

12:13 Russian forces launched a missile attack on residential areas of Kramatorsk, in Donetsk Oblast, according to a report by the mayor of the city, Oleksandr Goncharenko.

11:48 During the last day, Russian troops fired on nine settlements in the Donetsk Oblast, killing two people and wounding nine, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry reports. The enemy attacked Mariupol, Avdiyivka, Vuhledar, Dobropol, Slavyansk, Torsk, Novopol, Novgorod, and Niu York, the ministry said.

11:28 Over the past day in the Mykolayiv Oblast, 13 people were wounded in enemy attacks, said Anna Zamazeeva, the head of the Mykolayiv regional council. She said there were no children among the casualties.

11:25 Invading Russian troops fired at a civilian car in Kreminna, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai reports. “People tried to leave on their own,” Haidai wrote on Facebook. “The Rashists (Russian fascists) opened fire on them. Intentionally.” It was previously reported that four people were killed and one wounded in Kreminna. It is not clear if these were the victims of the reported attack on the car. Haidai said street fighting was going on in Kreminna now.

11:21 There will be no humanitarian corridors open again today, Minister for the Temporarily Occupied Territories Irina Vereshchuk reports. She said the enemy was continuing to block and fire on civilian evacuation routes.

11:17 Nine people were killed in the last day, and another 25 wounded in shelling attacks by the enemy in Kharkiv Oblast, the press service of the Kharkiv Oblast State Administration reported.

11:13 The mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadoviy, said that the number of wounded as a result of the morning’s missile attacks on Lviv had increased to 11 people, including a child.

“One of the rockets hit a civilian facility – a tire shop. Six people have been killed and 11 wounded, including one child. About 40 vehicles were damaged or destroyed. The shock wave shattered the windows of a nearby hotel where evacuated Ukrainians are living,” Sadoviy said.

10:48 Total losses of the Russian Federation since the beginning of the war, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as of April 18.

·        Personnel – 20,600

·        Tanks – 790

·        Armored fighting vehicles – 2,041

·        Artillery systems / artillery systems – 381

·        Multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) – 130

·        Air defense systems – 67

·        Aircraft – 167

·        Helicopters – 147

·        Vehicles – 1487

·        Ships / boats – 8

·        Tankers with fuels and lubricants – 76

·        UAVs of operational-tactical level – 155

·        Special vehicles – 27

·        Launchers of operational-tactical missile systems and tactical missile systems – 4.

⚡⚡⚡ 10:18 Six people were killed and eight injured, including a child, as a result of rocket attacks on Lviv, the head of Lviv regional administration Maxim Kozitsky has reported.

10:13 Russian troops have entered the city of Kreminna, but have so far been unable to gain a foothold there, with street fighting going on right now, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai reports.

10:10 Photos of the Russian cruiser Moskva shortly before it sank have been published by journalists of the OSINTtechnical project, engaged in intelligence based on open sources. Judging by the pictures, the damaged cruiser was listing to the port side. A great deal of smoke can be seen coming from various parts of the ship.

⚡⚡⚡ 08:53 The Russians launched a series of missile attacks on Lviv in the morning of April 18. The mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadoviy, said that the city had suffered five targeted missile strikes. At the same time, the head of the regional administration, Maxim Kozitsky, said there had been four strikes. He also asked people to remain in shelters.

Mikhail Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the presidential office, said that all the attacks were on civilian infrastructure.

According to state rail company Ukrzaliznytsia, several missiles hit near railway facilities in Lviv. The situation at the Lviv railway station is under control, boarding and disembarking continues, the company said.

08:30 Russia again launched missile attacks on Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in the morning of April 18. The head of Dnipropetrovsk military administration, Valentin Reznichenko, said that 60% of the missiles had been shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.

“Details on the morning “arrivals” – Two casualties in Sinelnikovsky district,” Reznichenko wrote. “There, a missile hit an infrastructure facility. … In the Pavlohradsky district there were no casualties but (a missile) destroyed some railway infrastructure.”

08:25 Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, 205 children have been killed, and more than 567 wounded, the press service of the Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office reports.

08:04 It is expected that the Russian invaders will continue to conduct hostilities in the coming days in order to reach the administrative borders of the Kherson region, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a morning report. In the Yuzhnobuhsky area, the invaders are focusing their main efforts on holding their positions. The Russian army is also continuing to fire at the positions of Ukrainian troops in the areas of Mykolayiv and Oleksandrivka.

07:29 In the Donbas, the Armed Forces of Ukraine repelled 12 enemy attacks in a day, destroying 10 tanks and shooting down two helicopters, the press center of the Joint Forces Operation reported. During the day, the Ukrainian military in the JFO zone also destroyed five enemy artillery systems, 15 armored units and five vehicles of the enemy.

07:15 The enemy is completing the formation of an offensive grouping in eastern Ukraine, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a morning report. The enemy is also continuing to carry out missile and bomb strikes on Ukraine's critical infrastructure.

The enemy is carrying out preparatory operations for an offensive in the Donbas, the General Staff said. In particular, in order to expand the bridgehead on the left bank of the Seversky Donets River and create conditions for the rapid deployment of troops, the Russians have conducted reconnaissance in force in the areas of the settlements of Zavody, Dmitrovka and Dubravnoye. “The enemy had no success, suffered losses and retreated,” the General Staff said.

The main efforts of the Russian Federation are concentrated in the areas of the settlements of Liman, Kreminna, Popasn and Rubizhne, and in trying to establish full control over the city of Mariupol. In the last 24 hours, the enemy also carried out offensive operations in the Severodonetsk, Popasnyansk and Zaporizhzhye areas, and unsuccessfully tried to gain footholds in the settlements of Kreminna and Rubizhne. In addition, the Russian troops carried out assault operations in parts of the settlements of Novotoshkovskoye, Popasna, Avdiyivka and Maryinka. These were also unsuccessful.

06:51 For the first time since the start of a full-scale war, more people have entered Ukraine from Poland than left, according to the BBC, citing data from the Polish border service. On April 16, 22,000 people crossed the Ukrainian border for entry, and 19,200 people left. The BBC said some people had returned to see family, perhaps for only a few days, and remained close to the border before returning.

05:08 The authorities of the Luhansk Oblast have warned that next week may see the last opportunities for people to evacuate from the region. The head of the Luhansk military regional administration, Serhiy Haidai, called on civilians to quicken their evacuation from the region, since “next week may be the last.”

“Next week could be tough,” said Haidai. “(It will) maybe (be) the last time we still have a chance to save you. How will the offensive happen? Probably, the traditional fascist way, in the morning, when you’re wakened in a bomb shelter by a terrible roar. The only thing you need to know is that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are ready to “greet” the Russians, so that the guests will quickly want to run home. Ukrainian hospitality has no boundaries.”

04:15 President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the West to introduce a new sanctions package against Russia for trying to introduce the use of the Russian currency, the ruble, in the occupied territories of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya oblasts.

“The response to the attempted ruble occupation of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya oblasts should be the full imposition of sanctions on the Russian banking and financial system, because they are part of the occupation machine,” Zelensky said.

02:00 The Ukrainian military has destroyed an accumulation of Russian troops in Chernobaevka, Kherson Oblast for the 16th time, Oleksiy Arestovich, adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, reported. He said the attack was carried out on multiple rocket launcher systems of the invaders and warehouses with rocket ammunition.

01:26 Over the past four days, 18 people have been killed in Kharkiv, and 106 wounded President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said. The head of state noted that on April 17, the Russians shelled streets in Kharkiv "with names that are especially dangerous for Russians."

“Continuous shelling of the city of Kharkiv continues,” the president said. “Today, Russian troops hit the streets of Culture, Shevchenko and Darwin. Perhaps these are especially dangerous words for Russia - culture, Shevchenko, Darwin. Things that threaten their existence.”

01:25 The Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed five targets of the Russian invaders in a day: an airplane, three helicopters and a drone, the Ukrainian military reported. The Russians lost one Su-type fighter, two Mi-24 and one Ka-52 helicopters, and one OTR Orlan-10 UAV.

00:42 Ukrzaliznytsia reported cases of disembarkation of refugees without passports on the border with the EU. The company said that it had not yet received information from the State Border Service about changes to rules for refugees leaving Ukraine because of the war.

00:05 Ukraine is doing everything it can to prepare its defenses before the Russian offensive in Donbas, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address.

“Russian troops are preparing for an offensive in the east of our state,” the president said. “(It will come) in the near future. They want to literally finish off and destroy the Donbas. Destroy everything that once brought glory to this industrial region. Just as the Russian military is destroying Mariupol. They want to wipe out other cities, other communities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. We’re doing everything to prepare our defenses.”

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