Russia still attacking Odesa, which will make the food crisis worse.
Thank you, everyone, who reads these posts.
The House passed the $40 billion modern-day Lend-Lease Act to expedite military aid to Ukraine.
Officials also discovered more mass graves as Russia continued to pummel the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
Russian Soldier Stands Trial in Ukraine
He is the first one to be tried for war crimes:
On Feb. 28, four days into Russia’s invasion, Sergeant Shysimarin and four other servicemen stole a car at gunpoint while fleeing Ukrainian forces and drove into the village of Chupakhivka in the Sumy region, about 200 miles east of Kyiv. There they saw an unarmed 62-year-old resident biking on the roadside and talking on the phone.
Sergeant Shysimarin was ordered to kill the man so he would not report them. He fired a Kalashnikov rifle out of the car window at the man’s head and killed him on the spot, just a few dozen yards from his home.
Sergeant Shysimarin faces 10 to 15 years in prison. It was not immediately clear how he came to be in custody or when the landmark trial may begin.
Both Ukrainian and international investigators have undertaken vast efforts to document evidence of potential war crimes in areas where Russian forces have retreated. Hundreds of bodies have been recovered for forensic examination, and U.N. officials are rushing more resources to the Ukrainian authorities to help prosecute growing reports of rape by Russian soldiers.
Pro-Russians in Kherson Want to be Annexed
The Pro-Russians in Kherson won’t even bother with a referendum. They’re asking Putin to annex it:
Kirill Stremousov, the Russia-installed deputy head of the Kherson administration, also said that a referendum to secede from Ukraine into a Kherson People’s Republic, similar to two pro-Russia rebel regions in Donbas, had been scrapped.
Thousands of people have fled Kherson since Russian soldiers took control and the admission that Kherson won’t bother with a referendum, unlike Crimea in 2014 which did, suggests that even the collaborationist authorities know they would lose a vote so badly it would be too difficult to fix.
“This will be one single decree based on the appeal of the leadership of the Kherson region to the President of the Russian Federation, and this will include the region inside the Russian Federation,” Mr Stremousov was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.
Kherson was the first region in Ukraine to fall to Russia after Putin ordered his invasion on February 24 and represents by far the biggest gains made by the Russian army. There was little fighting in Kherson and most of its infrastructure remains undamaged.
The mayor says no:
Kherson’s Ukrainian-elected mayor Ihor Kolykhaiev – who was deposed after the Russian takeover – has now responded.
“I know for sure that the people of Kherson see themselves exclusively as part of Ukraine,” he said in a statement on Facebook. “No one has the right to quietly make such a fateful decision for them.”
He appealed for immediate intervention from Ukraine’s presidential office, asking for an official statement confirming that Ukraine is fighting for Kherson and “appreciates each of its inhabitants who did not leave the city to be torn to pieces”.
He said in the city there are currently residents representing more than 114 nationalities, with women, children and elderly people among them, who “have not left their homes due to the lack of safe green corridors”.
Russia is still going after Odesa, which could cause a bigger food crisis:
Even if Russia falls short of severing Ukraine from the coast — and it appears to lack the forces to do so — the continuing missile strikes on Odesa reflect the city’s strategic importance. The Russian military has repeatedly targeted its airport and claimed it destroyed several batches of Western weapons.
Odesa is also a major gateway for grain shipments, and its blockade by Russia already threatens global food supplies. Beyond that, the city is a cultural jewel, dear to Ukrainians and Russians alike, and targeting it carries symbolic significance.
Russian forces have made slow advances in the Donbas, but there have been multiple setbacks. Military analysts suggest that hitting Odesa might serve to stoke concern about southwestern Ukraine, thus forcing Kyiv to put more forces there. That would pull them away from the eastern front as Ukraine’s military stages counteroffensives near the northeastern city of Kharkiv.
Russia Seized a Lot of Eastern Ukraine…DUH
Broken record time: Russia has had eastern Ukraine since 2014 thanks to the pro-Russian separatists. Don’t tell me that no one expected this full-scale invasion:
The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday that its forces in eastern Ukraine had advanced to the border between Donetsk and Luhansk, the two Russian-speaking provinces where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukraine’s army for eight years.
The ministry’s assertion, if confirmed, strengthens the prospect that Russia could soon gain complete control over the region, known as the Donbas, compared with just a third of it before the Feb. 24 invasion.
That is a far cry from what appeared to be the grand ambitions of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia when he launched the invasion: quick and easy seizure of vast swaths of Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, the overthrow of a hostile government and a replacement with unquestioned fealty that would ensure Ukraine’s subservience.
Nonetheless, the Donbas seizure, combined with the Russian invasion’s early success in seizing parts of southern Ukraine adjoining the Crimean peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, gives the Kremlin enormous leverage in any future negotiation to halt the conflict.
Izyum is located in Kharkiv Oblast on the Donets River. Russia took control of it on April 1.
But some rescuers found 44 bodies in a building:
The five-storey building collapsed in March as residents hid in the basement from Russian shelling.
But rescuers have only just been able to reach the building, one local official told the BBC.
And there are fears the death toll could rise further, as another building in the same street was also targeted.
“We know there were people in there as well. The search work is continuing and I think we will know more numbers of victims soon,” Izyum mayor Valeriy Marchenko told the BBC.
Russia seized control of Izyum on 1 April and troops have occupied the city since.
Mr Marchenko said when the buildings were attacked, Russian troops had seized control of half of the city.
As troops tried to advance, they fired directly at the building where the bodies have now been retrieved.
Rescuers only been able to reach it now because the apartment block was in an occupied area of the city.
“It only became possible a couple of days ago for our State Emergency Service to get there and start taking apart the rubble,” he said.
I wrote yesterday about Biden’s modern-day Lend-Lease Act for Ukraine, which puts us deeper into the war.
The House passed the bill 368-57:
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier in the day that after the House approved the package, the Senate “will move swiftly” to get the measure passed and sent to Biden’s desk.
Aid to Ukraine has been a rare bright spot of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill with Democrats and Republicans largely rallying around a call to help the nation as it faces Russian attack.
Lawmakers unveiled the bill text earlier in the day ahead of the House vote. The legislation the House approved provides funding for a long list of priorities, including military and humanitarian assistance.
The bill includes an increase in presidential drawdown authority funding from the $5 billion the Biden administration originally requested to $11 billion. Presidential drawdown authority funding allows the administration to send military equipment and weapons from US stocks. This has been one of the main ways the administration has provided Ukrainians with military equipment quickly over the past 75 days of the conflict in Ukraine.
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