Ukraine finds more evidence of Russia’s war crimes, brings back life to liberated territories — analysis

6 April, 12:21 PM
Russian soldiers in Ukraine (Photo:orenburg.media)

Russian soldiers in Ukraine (Photo:orenburg.media)

Centre for Defense Strategies (CDS) is a Ukrainian security think. We operate since 2020 and are involved in security studies, defense policy research and advocacy. This is CDS digest of the main events of Russia’s war against Ukraine occurred on April 5.

Humanitarian aspect

The aftermath of the Russian occupation of the Kyiv region The New York Times published satellite photos of Bucha. They show that bodies appeared on the city streets when Bucha was still under the occupation of the Russian troops; some bodies had been lying on the streets for weeks since mid-March.

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On the International Investigation of the Bucha Massacre, President Zelensky stated, "We are interested in the most complete, transparent investigation, the results of which will be known and explained to the entire international community. We have provided maximum access for journalists to Bucha and other liberated cities in Ukraine for hundreds of journalists from around the world. And we are interested in having thousands of journalists there, as many journalists as possible, so that the world can see what Russia has done."

Meanwhile, the town of Bucha is being cleared and demined by Ukrainian forces and first responders.

 3700 residents currently remain in Bucha. Those who have left their homes are not allowed to return yet. First, rescuers public utility workers, doctors, and social workers will return to the town on April 7. According to the UN, 4.2 million people had left Ukraine as of April 4.

However, according to a survey by the Razumkov Center, 79% of refugees want to return to Ukraine after the war. Another 10% do not plan to return, and 11% found it difficult to answer.

The current humanitarian crisis in Ukraine has already become one of the biggest in the world in the last 30 years.

Ombudswoman for Human Rights Lyudmila Denisova reports that Russia has grossly violated the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Ukrainian captives.

She reports that captured Ukrainian female soldiers were subjected to ill-treatment and torture/abuse in Russia.

А total of 3,846 people has been evacuated via humanitarian corridors today. 2,216 people (1,496 Mariupol residents and 720 residents of Berdyansk, Melitopol, Pology, Vasylivka) reached Zaporizhzhya via humanitarian corridors.

 A convoy of 7 buses to evacuate people from Mariupol, accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross, blocked in Mangush by Russian forces, was forced to return. Also, 17 minibusses returned to Zaporizhzhia from Berdyansk, evacuating 150 people who fled from Lysychansk, Severodonetsk, Rubizhne, and Kreminna.

1,080 people were evacuated from the Luhansk region. Ukrainian intelligence reported that the Russian command does not plan to rotate personnel who committed atrocities in Bucha. As of April 4, this brigade was withdrawn to Belarus.   

After two days of rest, they would be returned to Ukraine's hottest spots, probably in the Kharkiv direction. On the night of April 4-5, the invaders launched an airstrike on Kramatorsk, Donetsk region. In Rubizhne, Luhansk region, the invaders blew up a nitrogen tank; locals were asked to close their windows and not go outside.

Nitric acid is dangerous if inhaled, swallowed, and contact with skin and mucous membranes. On the night of April 5, the occupiers attacked the Ternopil region. The wreckage of the downed rocket damaged mineral fertilizer tanks, and ammonia levels were found in the soil and the Ikva River. Due to the fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region, more than 60,000 families in 52 towns and villages are left without gas. Further repair of the power grid is impossible due to the Russian occupiers not admitting repair crews.

In Tokmak, Russian troops are forcing local health care medical personnel to sign so-called "contracts"' with the Russian Federation Ministry of Health. Russian invaders continue shelling civilian infrastructure. Nine private houses were damaged due to the shelling in Preobrazhenka, Polohivsky district. Residential buildings in Orikhiv and surrounding villages were damaged.

In Melitopol, the occupiers are beginning to connect residents to the Russian Internet. The Ukrainian mobile providers are blocked. City residents may end up in complete information isolation. During two days of attacks in Mykolaiv, at least three medical institutions, five schools, ten kindergartens, an orphanage, and residential quarters were damaged.

As a result of Russian MLRS strikes on Mykolaiv, ten people are dead, and 61 are wounded. In the Kharkiv region for the last few days, Russians made 17 attacks in the areas of Saltovka, Pyatihatok, and Dergachev. As a result of the shelling of Kharkiv's Slobidsky district, seven people were killed, and 34 were injured, including three children who remain in serious condition.

As of the morning of April 5, the Russian army continued to shell residential areas of Kharkiv. In Derhachi, three people were killed, and seven were injured. ATMs and banks do not work in Kherson. There is very little food, no sugar, salt, butter, canned food, and household cleaning products. Farmers help with vegetables, fruits, and meat. Bread is homemade. Many shops are closed.

Almost no pharmacies are working because there is nothing left. The Russian troops left many roads mined, communications destroyed, and bridges blown up in Chernihiv and the Chernihiv and Chernihiv region. The Highways Service, the military, and the administration are involved in providing and organizing routes throughout the region to restore logistics shortly.

According to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Russia is preparing a large-scale provocation in Mariupol and planning to blame it on Ukraine. According to available data, the invaders are preparing large-scale falsification: they plan to gather in one place the bodies of Mariupol residents killed by the Russians and present them as mass victims of Ukrainian troops, spreading false information that "Ukrainians use civilians as human shields."

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 41 days of fighting, the enemy has 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 is regrouping troops withdrawn from Polissya and Sivershchyna and is concentrating on preparing an offensive in the east of Ukraine. Units of the 6th and 20th combined arms armies, the 1st Tank Army, and the Coastal Forces of the Baltic and Northern Fleets are completing preparations to resume the offensive, likely in an attempt to encircle the Ukrainian Joint Forces. The redeployment of Russian Central Military District troops from Ukraine has been completed. Stocks of food, fuel, and ammunition are being replenished.

After restoring combat readiness, the designated units will be moved to the area of the Valuyki and included in the offensive troop groups. Columns of military equipment in Belarus have been observed moving toward railway stations in Gomel, Yelsk, and Mozyr for loading on railway echelons. A significant part of Russian Air Force aircraft and helicopters were relocated from Belarus airfields to Russia.

At the same time, the enemy is trying to improve the position of its units in the Tavriya and Pivdennobuzhsky operational areas. The enemy continues to suffer battle losses in Ukraine. During the entire Russian-Ukrainian war, Russian Armed Forces military command representatives only twice declared the loss of Russian troops.

According to available information, the 20th Motorized Rifle Division (Kamyshin, Volgograd region) of the 8th Army of the Southern Military District, including the 33rd, 255th, and 294th motorized rifle regiments, returned to the permanent deployment base after fighting in Ukraine, had lost 40% of personnel, weapons, and military equipment. Many servicemen who were lucky enough to return alive are trying to retire from the military. The existing military medical facilities in Russia and Belarus do not have the capacity for treating the current number of wounded servicemen.

 Thus, the medical staff of the central district hospital in Glushkovo, Kursk region, was put on an intensified schedule due to the arrival of about 100 wounded Russian soldiers on March 29-April 2 from the Sumy region. In the temporarily occupied city of Pologi, Zaporizhzhya region, Russian Armed Forces servicemen seized and mined the central district hospital.

Local medical staff and patients were warned not to return to the hospital; only the wounded Russian occupiers remained on the premises. The Russian military leadership is trying to make up for the loss of officers at the expense of officers of higher military educational institutions.

According to available information, the Military Academy of Communications (St. Petersburg) urgently trains officers to replace positions in military units involved in the aggression against Ukraine. The Russian Air Force continues to make about 300 combat missions per day, mostly at night. There are about 600 Russian prisoners of war in Ukraine.

The morale of the Russian invasion force personnel remains low and tends to deteriorate. The enemy personnel is demoralized, resulting in increased desertions and refusals to take part in the war in Ukraine.

Volyn operational area: The situation is unchanged. Polissya operational area: The situation is unchanged. Kyiv operational area: The situation is unchanged.

Siversky operational area: Ukrainian 1st separate tank brigade, in cooperation with territorial defense units of the Chernihiv region, continued liberating villages south and southwest of Chernihiv and further advanced in the northwest, which led units of the Russian 41st Army to hastily retreat to Belarus practically without resisting.

The retreat of the 2nd Army from the M-02 highway to the east of the Konotop district allowed the Ukrainian Armed Forces to restore the road connection between Chernihiv and Kyiv. Ukrainian forces returned the territories north and east of Chernihiv to the city of Shostka in the Sumy region under Ukrainian control.

Elimination of the consequences of the Russian occupation forces continues. Slobozhansky operational area: Russian invaders continue to launch air and missile strikes on Kharkiv but do not risk storming the city. Ukrainian 92nd separate mechanized brigade is advancing from the Mala Rohan-Chuhuiv district towards the state border, liberating the area from the invaders and, at the same time, threatening the right flank of the Russian 6th Army and the Russian grouping near Izyum from the rear. In Izym, the enemy carries out filtration measures and forcibly takes locals to the Russian Federation.

To ensure troop maneuvers and crossing of the Seversky Donets River, the enemy is working to restore the bridge in the city of Izyum. Due to significant personnel losses of the 237th tank and 752nd motorized rifle regiments of the 3rd motorized infantry division, the Russian occupiers were forced to equip a field hospital at a local school.

Units of the Russian 6th Army and 36th Infantry Division, using TOS-1 fire strikes, pushed back units of the Ukrainian 81st Airmobile and 95th Assault Brigade from Topolsky and Kamyanka. In recent days, the Russian aggressor's units have carried out four attacks on Mala Komyshuvakha and Tykhotske. They captured these villages and launched an offensive in the direction of Brazhkivka, thus completing favorable conditions for strikes in the direction of Barvinkove and/or Slovyansk. The Russian 1st Tank Regiment's battalion offensive in the direction of Sulyhivka was unsuccessful.

Donetsk operational area: Over the past two days, the aggressor has concentrated all units, withdrawn from the northwest of Kyiv region via Belarus and the Kursk region to eastern Ukraine, east of Kharkiv. Thus, the 8th and 20th armies significantly increased their efforts to capture Rubizhne, Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, and Popasna, while attacking from the northwest, north, and east. In the areas of Borivske, Novoluhanske, Solodke, Maryinka, and Zolota Niva, the enemy continued artillery shelling on the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and civilian infrastructure.

Near Novotoshkivske, Nyzhne, Popasna, Kalynove, Stepne, Rubizhne, Troitske, and Novoselivka-2, the enemy carried out assault operations but failed. Units of the 8th Army penetrated the defense of the Ukrainian Joint Forces west of Horlivka by storming Novobakhmutivka.

The enemy is preparing to launch an offensive near the village of Zolota Niva.

Mariupol: Fierce resistance from the city's defenders is holding back the advance of the Russian 8th Army west of Donetsk. According to the 8th Army commander's decision, General Mezentsev, the city is being fired on with the heavy flamethrower systems TOS-1, which violates international humanitarian law and threatens civilian safety.

Russian invaders inflict massive artillery and airstrikes on the city. The Azov Special Purpose Unit of Ukraine continues to control most of the Azovstal plant and seaport. The Russian National Guard reports heavy losses.

Tavriya operational area: The Armed Forces of Ukraine liberated Oleksandrivka north of Kherson and posed a threat to Russian troops southwest of the city in the area of Bilozerka. Units of the Russian 58th Army continue to restore combat capability.

Only 71 motorized rifle regiments and 42 motorized rifle divisions remained active but were stopped by Ukrainian Forces on the outskirts of Vuhledar.

Around Nova Kakhovka, the enemy tightened the access control at checkpoints. The Russian invaders resort to detaining civilians and forcing them into engineering fortifications of the enemy positions. Cases of illegally seizing vehicles from the population have become more frequent.

Considering the deployment by Russia of poorly trained units angry and frustrated during the war (especially such as the Russian National Guard, PMC Wagner, and the FSB), special punitive measures might occur in Kherson, Melitopol, and others to identify and detain Ukrainian politicians, journalists, and activists. Pivdennobuzksky operational area: In the area of Lyubyne, Myrne, and Kopany, the invaders fired artillery at the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In response to their inability to counter in the Oleksandrivka area, Russian invaders fired on Mykolaiv with Tornado MLRS, using cluster munitions and damaging four hospitals and a city orphanage.

Azov-Black Sea maritime operational area: Russian troops continue attempts to seize Ukrainian cities and ports in the Black and Azov Seas. Ukrainian Black Sea ports are blocked by Russian ships. Civil navigation is not possible. The Turkish Navy has announced its readiness to provide a safe corridor for up to 90 foreign ships stranded in Ukrainian ports since the start of the war. No results yet.

At approximately 10:40 p.m. on April 4, Russian troops fired at the civilian cargo ship Azburg (flag Dominica, shipowner Malta) at the Mariupol Seaport. One crew member was injured in a fire in the engine room. The sea siege of Odesa continues. Russian troops continue to launch missile strikes from the sea. Missiles are coming from Russian surface ships and submarines. Mykolaiv and Ochakiv were also hit by missiles from the Black Sea. There are casualties due to the attacks. The defense of Mykolaiv continues.

Ukrainian defense forces hold the enemy in the Kherson region, conduct counterattacks, and shell clusters of enemy equipment. The enemy transferred additional heavy forces from occupied Crimea to the Kherson region and constantly fired at Mykolaiv with artillery and MLRS.

The total combat losses of the enemy from February 24 to April 5 were approximately: Personnel - almost 18,500 people (+200) Tanks - 676 (+29) Armored combat vehicles (BBM) - 1858 (+14) Operational tactical missile systems - 4 (0) Artillery systems - 332 (+2) Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) - 107 (+2) Means of air defense - 55 (+1) Aircraft - 150 (+3) Helicopters - 134 (0) Automotive equipment - 1322 (+29) Boats / ships - 7 (0) UAV - 94 (+2)

 Ukraine in general Russia's war against Ukraine has led to a drop in Ukrainian grain exports, but even shifting supplies from other countries will not be able to compensate for the loss of supplies from Ukraine (Bloomberg.)

Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv lost UAH 3.5 billion during the war. Communications. The level of mobile coverage in Ukraine has not changed significantly. Last night, new local damages were recorded on the Ukrtelecom telecommunication network in Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions. Repair crews are already working to fix them and restore services. In general, the company's critical infrastructure and national network are stable. Services are provided in all regions except Luhansk.

During the past 24 hours, Ukrainian internet service providers have recorded 146 cases of network damage or equipment unavailability. Ukrainians in most parts of the country have access to digital terrestrial television through the work of the Concern of Radio Broadcasting and Television, which is under the management of the State Special Communications.

 Satellite broadcasting works stably. Cyberattacks have been noted trying to gain access to Telegram accounts, reported by the Government Team for Response to Computer Emergencies of Ukraine CERT-UA and the Cyber Police of Ukraine.

 Criminals circulated messages among Ukrainian citizens with malicious links to an alleged Telegram site to gain unauthorized access to accounts, including the possibility of intercepting a one-time SMS code. Energy security Over the past 24 hours, the electricity supply to more than 123,700 consumers has been restored. The gas supply was restored to 832 consumers.

 Ukrainian energy companies are making every effort to restore the energy supply quickly. However, emergency recovery work is difficult or impossible in some areas due to the intensification of hostilities and the emergence of new damage.

As of April 5, more than 1,245 towns and villages in Ukraine remain without electricity (more than 759,300 consumers). In addition, more than 334,000 residences remain without a gas supply. Electricity. Ukraine's energy system is balanced and stable. Frequency in the network at the standard level of 50 Hz. All power plants operate stably in the network, providing electricity to all Ukrainian consumers.

Nuclear power. Ukraine's nuclear power plants generate electricity steadily. Their total current capacity 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. The National Guard of Ukraine units arrived at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and took the facility under their protection.

Gas transmission system. The company maintains operational and technological control over the Ukrainian GTS, fulfilling its obligations to transport gas to consumers. Hydropower. All HPPs and PSPs within Ukrhydroenergo operate according to the dispatch schedule and fulfill their obligations to regulate the frequency and capacity of the country's energy system.

The stations are ready for the spring floods. International diplomatic aspect Lithuania expelled the Russian ambassador and declared a decline in diplomatic relations "In response to Russia's military aggression against sovereign Ukraine and the atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces in various occupied Ukrainian cities, including the horrific massacre in Bucha."

149 Russian diplomats have been expelled from European countries in the last two days. Some countries directly link this decision to the crimes of Russian troops, others to the espionage activities of "diplomats." This is the third wave of mass expulsions of Russian diplomats over the last few years. The first two waves were related to the interference of Russian special services in the U.S. presidential election in 2016 and the attempted chemical poisoning of Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom in 2018.

This reinforces Russia's diplomatic isolation and reduces its ability to conduct espionage and subversive activities in the West. The EU is working on the fifth package of restrictive measures against Russia in connection with crimes committed by the Russian military.

 The measures, in particular, provide for a ban on imports of Russian coal (a quarter of EU imports are from Russia, 4 billion euros annually); a ban on transactions by four banks (23% of the Russian banking market), including the second largest in Russia, VTB; a ban on Russian ships entering EU ports (with some exemptions) and on Russian and Belarusian road transport operators; bans on EU exports in advanced semiconductors and machinery (worth 10 billion euros). The issue of Russian oil imports is also being considered.

 In Germany, a complete ban on energy imports is being debated. However, drastic steps are unlikely given the impact on households, the inevitable recession, and rising unemployment. "If it would stop the war, then we would do it immediately," said the foreign minister. On Monday, the United States banned Russia from using more than $600 million from reserves held in American banks to repay sovereign debt. Russia has 30 days to repay the debt. On the same day, VTB paid its domestic foreign currency debt obligations in rubles ($3.1 million).

 Thus, given the impossibility of using part of the frozen foreign exchange resources and experiencing a shortage of foreign exchange earnings, Russia will be forced to spend available gold and foreign exchange savings to cover foreign debt and provide critical imports. This will mean fewer resources available to wage war in Ukraine and keep the situation under control inside Russia. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has ruled out normalizing relations with Russia as long as Putin remains president.

He also acknowledged mistakes in the approaches to Russia, in particular, promoting the "creation of a pan-European home with the participation of Russia" and the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline. However, Steinmeier has come under criticism from Ukraine's ambassador to Germany, who considers it more important to "act on these statements now, and there are no such actions."

The German political elite is very reluctant and slow to acknowledge the strategic miscalculations about Moscow and continues to take a very cautious stance, particularly on arms supplies to Ukraine. Berlin's indecision provokes criticism, especially from Central and Eastern Europe. Suppose Germany behaves so "moderately" when deciding the fate of Europe's largest country and unprecedented crimes by Russia. What can happen if Putin tries to break the Suwałki Corridor to Kaliningrad?

And such a scenario should not be ruled out, given the Baltic states' plans to ban (regardless of the EU) access to their ports and roads, making land access to the Kaliningrad enclave impossible. In addition, Putin has repeatedly escalated in a new direction to cover up for his crimes or problems elsewhere. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is an activist in the Justice for Ukraine campaign, which aims to establish a "Special Tribunal for the Punishment of the Crime of Aggression" in addition to the Ukrainian-initiated investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity within the International Criminal Court. The e-petition has already garnered more than 1.5 million signatures, including 50 heads of states and governments. Legal condemnation will be of paramount political and historical significance despite the small chances of truly punishing Russia's top war criminals.

 Roskomnadzor demands Wikipedia remove materials on Russian aggression against Ukraine and crimes committed by the Russian Armed Forces, threatening a fine of up to 4 million rubles. By restricting access to some Western social networks and information portals, Russia is trying to keep Russian society in an information bubble.

This helps maintain a high level of support for the Putin regime (according to the Levada Center, 83% approve of Putin's activities) and his aggressive foreign policy (81% support the war against Ukraine). However, the closure of Russian propaganda channels in the West and the constant blocking of disinformation and bots on social networks exacerbates Moscow's urgency to fight against objective information about the war in Wikipedia, the most popular Internet resource. Relevant Russian news Russia lost about 300 billion rubles in oil and gas revenues in March. The Russian Ministry of Finance planned to receive 790 billion rubles in the federal budget but received only 302 billion rubles. Russian oil continues to fall in price. T

rafigura is offering Russian Urals oil at a discount of $34.80 per barrel - another record discount at the price of Brent for someone to take. The potential buyer is mainly China, which is already negotiating to purchase spot lots of Russian liquid national gas (LNG) at a discount of more than 10%. Most LNG importers worldwide are refusing to buy Russian cargo for fear of future sanctions or reputational damage as the war in Ukraine continues and the EU increases pressure on Moscow.

Chinese business is one of the few willing to take this risk. Some importers are considering using intermediaries to bid on Russian LNG on their behalf to hide their plans from Western governments. The United States has suspended exchanging information with Russian tax authorities to complicate Russia's tax collection. This was reported to Reuters by the U.S. Treasury Department. According to a study by Tiburon research, 66% of Russians have lower family incomes and employment problems. Tours to Turkey and Egypt for Russians rose by about 35%. The tourist industry saw a drop in demand; according to opinion polls, 51% of Russians have begun to economize, and 56% plan to cut travel costs.

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