Russia concentrates strikes on Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts forcing thousands to flee

9 April, 12:03 PM
Emergency evacuation (Photo:Focus)

Emergency evacuation (Photo:Focus)

The Centre for Defense Strategies (CDS) is a Ukrainian security think involved in security studies, defense policy research and advocacy. This is CDS’s analysis of the main events of Russia’s war against Ukraine as of April 8.

Humanitarian aspect

Kramatorsk. Russian forces attacked Kramatorsk train station with a ballistic missile TochkaU on the morning of April 8. About 4,000 people were at the station at the moment of the missile strike, primarily families with children, as residents of the Donetsk region are being evacuated to safer areas of Ukraine. 

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It is reported that 52 people are dead, five of them were children. More than 100 civilians were wounded.

Kramatorsk hospitals cannot cope with the number of wounded after a missile attack. 

"Many people are heavily injured; they lost arms and legs. 30- 40 surgeons operate on them simultaneously," said the mayor of Kramatorsk.

 A photo of part of the Russian rocket that hit the rail station was published; it has a handwritten inscription in Russian "for the children [missing part]." 

An emergency evacuation has started in Kramatorsk. Latest UN data on civilians killed in Ukraine: a total of 1,611 civilian deaths have been confirmed, including 131 children, 2227 people were injured. 

Office of Ukraine's Prosecutor General reports that more than 475 children suffered in Ukraine due to the full-scale armed aggression of the Russian Federation: 169 children were killed, and more than 306 were injured. 

However, the data is not final since the information collection continues in the areas of intensive fighting and the territories temporarily occupied by the enemy, Ukrainian Ombudswoman Lyudmila Denisova stated that Russian invaders forcibly took over 120,000 Ukrainian children to Russia. 

She also reports cases of rape of minors: in Bucha, a 14- year-old girl was raped by five male occupiers, she is pregnant now; an 11-year-old boy was raped in front of his mother, she was tied to a chair to watch. More than 30,000 people have been illegally deported to Russia from Mariupol. 

On April 8, ten humanitarian corridors have been agreed to evacuate residents of the Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, and Donetsk regions. А total of 6,665 people has been evacuated today.

 5,158 people (1,614 Mariupol residents and 3,544 residents of Berdyansk, Melitopol, Polohy, Vasylivka, Tokmak, Enrgodar, Orikhiv, Huliaypole) reached Zaporizhzhia by their own transport and buses via humanitarian corridors. In the Luhansk region: 1,507 people were evacuated from Lysychansk, Severodonetsk, Rubizhne, and Kreminna. 

In Melitopol, the occupying forces have been detaining eight evacuation buses for 24 hours. Almost the entire convoy of buses with humanitarian aid on their way to Melitopol for further evacuation of people was captured by the Russian military. 

According to the head of the Zaporizhzhya regional administration, drivers were told to gather in one of the buses and return to the departure point. The rest of the buses were confiscated by the Russian invaders. At night in the Kharkiv region, the gas pipeline was significantly damaged due to enemy shelling. 

Over the past 24 hours, Russian occupation forces have fired about 48 artillery, mortars, tanks, and rocket-propelled grenades at the Saltivka, Pyatihatok, Oleksiyivka, central Kharkiv, and Derhachi districts. 

Fifteen people were injured. On the morning of April 7, the enemy shelled a boat in which civilian Ukrainians tried to leave the occupied territory of the Kherson region. 

As a result, four people were killed, including a child. Seven others were injured, and two are missing. People were sailing from the Kherson region to the village of Maryanka in the Dnipro region. 

According to the Prosecutor General's Office, the invaders fired Grad missiles at them The exhumation of bodies buried in mass graves began in Bucha. The largest mass grave of civilians killed by the Russian invaders was discovered. 

Police, investigators, and criminologists are working on the scene. According to Kyiv Region Police Chief Andriy Nebytov, the civilians were buried by one of the town utility services workers. He stayed in Bucha and asked the invaders to allow him to take people from the streets they were shot in and bury them so that they would not remain on the streets. He was doing that under enemy fire. The bullet wounds are visible on the bodies; many people died from gunshots or sniper rifles. 

Experts will later determine the cause of death. The Russian occupiers shot dead at least 132 residents of the village of Makariv in the Kyiv region. Twenty-six bodies were found after clearing the rubble of just two apartment buildings in Borodyanka, Kyiv region. 

Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova stated that the rescue search has just begun, so the number of identified victims of Russian military crimes will increase. Since the beginning of the war, about 700 people, both military and civilian, have died in Chernihiv, according to the city mayor, Vladyslav Atroshenko.

Operational situation 

The strategic air-ground offensive operation of the Russian Armed Forces against Ukraine continues. Since April, Russians have changed its title to the 'Donbas Defense Operation.

 During 44 days of fighting, the enemy partially fulfilled the task of establishing the land corridor from Russia's territory through the Ukrainian Donbas to the temporarily occupied Crimea and attempts to occupy the entire Donetsk and Luhansk regions within their administrative borders. 

The enemy's primary efforts are to capture Mariupol, develop an offensive near Izyum, and try to break through the defenses in the Donetsk direction. At the same time, the enemy continues to prepare for an offensive in eastern Ukraine. 

The invaders are regrouping in order to form an offensive grouping, increase the number of air components, command and control, and continue to conduct reconnaissance. Separate units of the Russian Eastern Military District and the airborne troops, restoring combat capability and regrouping in Belarus, will probably be sent to strengthen the Russian grouping in the Slobozhansky direction. 

The enemy is completing the restoration of combat capability of the Central Military District units in the areas of the Bryansk and Kursk regions. The Russian Air Force has relocated most of its aircraft and at least 20 of the 150 helicopters from airbases in Belarus to airbases in southeastern Russia over the past week. The primary efforts of the Russian Air Force are concentrated in the Kharkiv-Izyum-Luhansk-Donetsk districts, and they make about 320-350 flights a day. The main targets are Ukrainian command posts and depots. The Russian occupation authorities continue to restrict the rights of Ukrainian citizens in the territories under their control. 

Thus, in the Zaporizhzhya region, Russian invaders banned the exit of males towards the territory controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. There is also an increase in the shortage of essential goods, especially food, which could further complicate the humanitarian situation in the temporarily occupied territories. 

Due to the heavy losses of Russian personnel during their hostilities in Ukraine, the military commissariats of the Russian Western Military District received an additional task to select candidates for military service under a contract to resupply military units that had lost their combat capability. The Ukrainian Defense Forces, inflicting damage on the enemy, continue to push back them back and liberate the temporarily occupied territories. 

The Ukrainian Air Forces continue to strike the areas of enemy concentration. The morale of the invasion force personnel remains low and tends to deteriorate. The servicemen refuse to take part in further hostilities in Ukraine. 

As it turns out, Russian citizens do not want to join the military service under the contract, understanding they would soon be sent to the war zone in Ukraine. In March of this year, only 11 servicemen were admitted to military service under contract in the Western Military District: in the 1st tank army - 8; in the 6th combined arms army - 2; in the 20th combined arms army - not a single one; in the Baltic Fleet - 1. Due to the failure to fulfill the recruitment plan (the plan is 3,000 contract soldiers), the commander of the Western Military District, Colonel-General Zhuravlev, plans to remove Major General Belyavsky from the post of the head of the district's personnel. 

To avoid panic and protests among Russian citizens, the dead bodies of Russian soldiers of the 331st Airborne Regiment (military unit 71211, Kostroma) from the 98th Airborne Division (military unit 65451, Ivanovo) are brought back to Russia in small batches. 

Volyn operational area: there is a possibility of enemy missile strikes on military and civilian infrastructure from the territory of Belarus. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus carry out operational and combat training activities throughout the country. Up to four BTGs have been involved in tasks to strengthen the protection of the Ukrainian-Belarusian border. 

According to the available information, the so-called "volunteers" from Belarus are being recruited to new units of a private military company (information to be confirmed). 

Polissya operational area: the enemy did not take any active actions. The enemy's units, withdrawn to the territory of Belarus, carry out activities to prevent Ukraine's Defense Forces from transferring to other areas. Siversky operational area: the enemy completes the regrouping and restoration of combat capability of the Central Military District units that were previously withdrawn from Ukraine to the Bryansk and Kursk regions of the Russian Federation. 

The possibility of further involvement of these units in hostilities in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas remains. Slobozhansky operational area: Separate units from the 6th and 20th combined-arms armies, the 1st tank army, and the coastal troops of the Baltic and northern fleets are carrying out operational equipment of the territory. 

The primary task is to restore railway sections from Kupyansk to railway stations in Kharkiv, Izyum, and Svatove. For this purpose, units of the 38th separate railway brigade of the Western Military District (permanent deployment base - Yaroslavl) were involved. 

In the Kharkiv region, up to five enemy BTGs continue to blockade the city and fire with MLRS, artillery, and mortars. To prevent the advance of Ukrainian troops, the invaders put up minefields. Yesterday, the Russian Air Force struck at the Lozova railway junction and the railway stations in Izyum and Slovyansk, from which civilians are being evacuated. The invaders are holding Izyum and trying to continue the offensive in the direction of Sloviansk and Barvinkove.

 In the temporarily occupied Izyum, representatives of the so-called "Donetsk republic" perform the local "police" functions and carry out illegal checks of documents. They do personal searches and searches of the residences of the local population. 

Donetsk operational area: the enemy continues fire and assault operations, launches missile and bomb strikes, and artillery fire on the civilian infrastructure. The enemy also intensified efforts in the Severodonetsk direction, trying to continue the offensive in the areas of Donetsk, Novotoshkivske, and Popasna. 

They are advancing in the areas of Maryinka, Borivske, and Solodke. The enemy continues to launch airstrikes and shell civilian infrastructure, including MLRS in the areas of Kreminna, Severodonetsk, Novotoshkivske, Popasna, Novozvanivka, Sukha Balka, Novoselivka Druha, Stepne, Troitske, and Novobahmutovka. Likely, the invaders will soon try to break through the Ukrainian defense in the Severodonetsk, Avdiivka, and Kurakhov districts. 

In the areas of Rubizhne, Popasna, Nyzhne, Novotoshkivske, Zolote, and Borivske, the invaders tried to carry out unsuccessful assault operations. In the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, seven enemy attacks were repulsed in the past 24 hours. Ukrainian Defense Forces destroyed four tanks, two artillery systems, ten armored units, and eleven enemy vehicles. 

Tavriya operational area: the port of Berdyansk is used by the Russian invaders to transfer weapons, military equipment, and personnel. Pivdennobuzhsky operational area: the enemy conducts artillery fire on positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It uses aircraft in some directions and tries to continue offensive operations in the direction of Alexandrovka.

 Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area: Enemy naval strike groups in the Black and Azov Seas continue to launch missile strikes on Ukraine, isolating the combat zone and reconnaissance area. In the coastal direction, Russian troops are concentrating their efforts on capturing Ukrainian cities and ports in the Black and Azov Seas. The sea siege of Odesa continues. 

Russian troops continue to launch missile strikes from the sea, from surface ships, submarines, and from the territory of the occupied Crimea. Last night Odesa was attacked, as well as military units defending the city. The cities of Mykolaiv and Ochakiv were also hit by missiles from the Black Sea. 

Casualties were reported. Active defense of Mykolaiv continues. The occupants continue shelling Mykolayiv with missiles and aircraft. Ukrainian defense forces keep the enemy on the border of the Kherson region, counterattack, and shell clusters of enemy vehicles. 

The situation in Mariupol remains difficult. The enemy is destroying civilian infrastructure, capturing part of the city. Ukrainian troops continue to maintain a circular defense. The enemy suffers losses in strength and equipment. 

Dnipro.  The Dnipro region, the Russian invaders fired on civilians during the evacuation. As a result, four people died, including one child; 

Zaporizhzhia.  As a result of the April 7 shelling, low- and medium-pressure gas distribution pipelines in the towns of Huliaipole and Orikhiv were damaged. 

In total, there are 62,267 residencies without gas supply in 53 villages and towns in the oblast; 

Mariupol. On the night of April 8, in the Mariupol trading port, the Russian invaders fired at the "Captain Belousov" icebreaker carrying a civilian crew. One person was killed in the shelling; 

Odesa. Last night, from the territory of Crimea, the enemy launched a missile strike with three guided missiles at the Odesa region. Two buildings were damaged. The number of victims is being clarified. 

Sumy. On the morning of April 8, Russian troops shelled the Shostka district in the Sumy region; • Electricians of the Trostyanets operational brigade "Sumienergo" exploded on an antitank mine. One died, and two are in critical condition in the hospital. 

The total combat losses of the enemy from 24.02 to 08.04 were approximately personnel - almost 19,000 people (+100); tanks - 700 (+12); armored combat vehicles (BBM) - 1891 (0); operational tactical missile systems - 4 (0); artillery systems - 333 (+1); multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) - 108 (0); air defense equipment - 55 (0); aircraft - 150 (0); helicopters - 135 (0); automotive equipment - 1361 (+3); boats / ships - 7 (0); UAV - 112 (+16). 

Ukraine in general:  

 Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense has published a new list of Russian invaders who took part in the genocide of the Ukrainian people in the Kyiv region. 

The list includes full names, military ranks, positions, and mobile and satellite phones of the Russian National Guard servicemen in Khabarovsk who took part in the genocide of the people of Ukraine in the Kyiv region. It can be found at the following link. 

According to the chairman of the Ukrainian parliamentary committee on finances, Danilo Getmantsev, 220 Ukrainian enterprises have already been relocated from the war zone to safer areas. 

Ninety of them have already resumed working. More than 40% of the planned agricultural areas have already been sown in the Dnipro region. Ukraine's daily state budget expenditures related to the war amount to about UAH 2 billion. 

At the same time, the total Ukrainian losses associated with the destruction of infrastructure and loss of the economic potential amount to $4 billion a day, stated Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. 

Energy security: As of 10 a.m. on April 8, 2022, all operating nuclear power plants in Ukraine are stably producing electricity. The total current capacity of power units provides the necessary amounts of electricity for the country's needs. Radiation, fire, and environmental conditions at the industrial sites of nuclear power plants and adjacent territories have not changed and are within current standards.

Russian occupation forces destroyed the long-standing archive collected by Ukrainians at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. Almost all office premises in buildings in the Chornobyl zone were significantly damaged, broken, and thoroughly plundered. 

The invaders seized not only the property of state-owned enterprises but also the personal belongings of workers at their workplaces. In addition, a modern analytical laboratory worth 6 million euros was looted and destroyed in Chornobyl. It was a unique complex with powerful analytical capabilities.

 It could provide services at any stage of radioactive waste management, as well as at the stage of research and development of technology. 

Experts say it is extremely dangerous to visit and stay in the Chornobyl zone now due to the consequences of the presence of Russian armed forces. There are high radiation risks, explosion threats, and logistical barriers. 

International diplomatic aspect: 

The UN General Assembly has suspended Russia's membership in the Human Rights Council. 93 states supported this decision. 24 countries voted against, including 5 countries of the former Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, and others. 58 countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, India, Brazil, and South Africa, abstained. 

The Russian delegation even tried to mislead that Moscow had left the Council on its own. Russia believes that the decision of the UN General Assembly is "an illegal and politically motivated step to demonstratively punish a sovereign UN member state that pursues an independent domestic and foreign policy." Disagreements with the "politicization" of human rights issues and the "protection" of sovereignty in domestic and foreign policy issues influenced China's position. 

Beijing reacts sharply to criticism of its "internal" affairs, particularly the curtailment of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong and the systematic oppression of the Uyghurs. In the Russian aggression in Ukraine, China tries to act as an impartial player interested in a diplomatic solution to the conflict. 

However, Chinese state propaganda media do not call the conflict the war and try to link its origins to the policies of the West in general and the United States in particular. 

The decision to expel the aggressor country from the leading human rights platform is a significant diplomatic victory. It will exclude the possibility of using it for the legitimation of Russian narratives about the "genocide in Donbas." It is an abuse of the Council's cornerstones to have as a member a country that commits war crimes and wages aggressive war on a daily basis.

 To increase pressure on Russia, the United States has imposed sanctions on 29 Russian companies, including the United Shipbuilding Corporation, which builds all warships, and one of the largest diamond mining companies, Alrosa (90% of diamond mining in Russia). 

The United Kingdom has sanctioned both Putin’s and Lavrov's daughters. 

Japan has begun to reduce imports of Russian coal, which accounts for 13% of energy generation. However, according to diplomatic sources, EU foreign ministers "formally" will not discuss the issue of blocking Russian oil imports at a meeting on Monday. Instead, additional restrictive measures and increased support for Ukraine should be expected. 

Dmitry Medvedev described the sanctions as "an act of aggression against Russia and a form of hybrid war." Slovakia has handed over S-300 air defense systems to Ukraine, and Australia will supply 20 Bushmaster armored vehicles. However, the German Chancellor continues to delay the transfer of heavy armored vehicles to Ukraine. 

Against the background of the regrouping of Russian invading forces and the escalation of the situation in eastern Ukraine, it is critical to adhere to the position set by the partner countries to support Ukraine with everything necessary for victory. 

We have already passed the stage of "too little, too late." Still, we have not yet reached the pre-saturation of the means necessary for the liberation of the occupied territories and the imposition on Moscow conditions for a diplomatic settlement acceptable for Kyiv. 

Relevant news in Russia: 

Since yesterday, Russian Sberbank has not been making foreign currency transfers for its clients. The world's second-largest construction equipment manufacturer, the Japanese company Komatsu, is shutting down its plant in Russia. Caterpillar already made such a decision in early March. 

Taiwanese manufacturer of computer equipment Acer temporarily ceased its activities in the territory of the Russian Federation. German food manufacturer Dr. Oetker leaves Russia. About 160 retail chains have temporarily suspended their activities in Russia.

 Analysts calculated that in the event of their complete withdrawal, shopping centers would lose up to 70% of revenue. Moreover, they say that it will be challenging to find a replacement for brands. Companies from "friendly" countries are afraid of uncertainty, and Russian retailers will not be able to handle such volumes for several more years.

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