There have no significant developments in the past 48 hours. Russian troops continue to redeploy and a large Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine is anticipated to occur in the coming days or weeks. The EU announced on 08 April that a fifth round of sanctions against Russia has been adopted. This happens as Ursula von der Leyen and Josep Borrell travel to Kyiv.
In the north, Ukrainian forces continue to uncover the aftermath of Russia’s presence outside Kyiv. On 08 April, President Zelensky reported that the town of Borodynka is “significantly more dreadful than Bucha”. Russia has now completed the withdrawal of its 20 Battalion Tactical Groups (BTG) from Kyiv. There are signs that these BTGs have started to move eastwards, and will likely be redeployed in the Donbas. The Russian city of Belgorod has been a key redeployment hub for the Russians. There has been no reported bombardment in Kyiv or Chernihiv in the past 24h.
In the east, shelling continues in Kharkiv. Russia has not made any ground advancements; however, it is believed that five Russian BTGs remain around Kharkiv. Ukrainian forces continue to repel Russian advancements in Izyum and in other areas in eastern Ukraine. It is believed that these Russian troops are depleted and are waiting for reinforcements. On 08 April the train station in Kramatorsk was struck by two Russian rockets, 39 civilians are feared to be dead. This comes after local officials encouraged civilians to evacuate amid fears of a large Russian offensive in the coming days or weeks. Russia denies any involvement in the strike.
In the south, it is believed that Russian forces have seized the centre of Mariupol; however, fighting continuous in the city’s port. It is likely that the whole city will fall in the coming days. Russia has continued to kidnap demonstrators and activists in the south. Russia’s southern axis, west of Kherson, continues to be improved, repelling Ukrainian counterattacks; however, it is unlikely that Russia will be able launch an offensive at this moment. Odesa has been subject to Russian missile strikes in the past 24h, causalities have been reported. Furthermore, Russia claim to have destroyed a military facility training foreign mercenaries in Odesa, no evidence has been provided.
The situation in the west remains at large unchanged. A missile strike in Novohrad-Volynsky has been reported in the early hours of 08 April, and air sirens keep on whining in several cities; however, no major strikes have been reported.
On 06 April, a Ukrainian report suggested that Russia is mobilising its permanently stationed troops in the separatist region of Transnistria in Moldova. The report suggested that there is a high risk that Russia will use these troops to launch an attack on Odesa. The claims were rebuked by both Moldovan and Transnistrian officials, stating that there is no Russian mobilisation in Transnistria.
Although the Russian troops in Transnistria could prove to have a supporting role if Russian troops on the southern axis were to launch an assault on Odesa, or if an amphibious attack was launched from Crimea, it is unlikely that the Russian troops in Transnistria would mount an offensive on Odesa independently. There are roughly 1,500 Russian troops in Transnistria and the weapons are outdated. Furthermore, such a move would weaken Russia’s position in Transnistria and Moldova, effectively allowing the EU and NATO to have a greater presence in the country. This especially as Russia has no border with Moldova and Transnistria; unless, of course, Russia is able to occupy Odesa.
Developments in the West
On 06 April, NATO Secretary General Jens Soltenberg stated that the alliance would quickly welcome Sweden and Finland if they decide to apply for becoming a NATO member. He also added the organisation is ready to provide security guarantees to the countries if their potential membership creates a problem with Russia.
On 08 April, the EU announced a fifth sanctions packet against Russia. The sanctions include an import ban on Russian coal and other solid fossils, as from August 2022. An import ban on other goods such as cement, wood and fertilisers will also be put in place. The EU also announced further export controls on technological goods to Russia. Vessels from Russia will not be able to dock at European ports. Furthermore, additional key businesspersons and oligarchs will be sanctioned. Finally, a full transaction ban will be imposed on four key Russian banks, representing 23 percent of the market share in the Russian banking sector. On 08 April, EU leaders Ursula von der Leyen and Josep Borrell are going to Kyiv to hold talks with president Zelensky.
Humanitarian and Migration Developments
Today 08 April morning hours, a missile attack strike on Kramatorsk railway station. The Head of the Donetsk Regional Administration announced that at least 30 people had been killed and more than 100 had been injured. The mayor of Kramatorsk stated that there were 4,000 people at the railway station, most of them elderly, women and children when the missile hit. Russia denied the responsibility for the strike.
From the Ukrainian President office, the Coordinator of humanitarian corridors Tetyana Lomakina stated that more than 45,000 Ukrainians had been illegally deported to Russia and Belarus from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. According to her, Ukraine citizens are forcibly deported from Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv and Kherson oblasts. Ukrainian officials also stated that the Russian forces intercept people while receiving humanitarian aid during the evacuation.