There have been no developments in northern Ukraine, there is no presence of Russian troops, and there have been no airstrikes reported. However, government officials are still advising citizens not to return to the area yet – mines, booby traps, and unused ammunition has been left behind by the Russians.
In the east, shelling continues in Kharkiv – the strategic situation remains at large unchanged; however, Russian troops have started to place mines in towns outside the city. On 12 April, a railway bridge in Belgorod, Russia, was destroyed. The cause remains unknown. Intense fighting has continued in Luhansk, Russia is pushing to occupy Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Kreminna, Novodruzhesk, and Rubizhne. Meanwhile Russia is continuing to reinforce its forces on the Izyum axis, a large Russian convoy moving towards Izyum was caught on satellite footage recently. However, no territorial gains have been reported in Izyum in the last 48 hours.
In the south, there are reports suggesting that Russian troops have used chemical weapons in Mariupol. Furthermore, it is believed that Russian troops have successfully bisected the Ukrainian forces in Mariupol, forcing them into two main locations. It is likely that the city will fall in the coming days or weeks.
On 11 April, nine humanitarian corridors were agreed in order to evacuate people from Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, and Donetsk regions. A total of 4,454 people has been evacuated through humanitarian corridors. Although Russian forces have violated the humanitarian corridors, more than 500 people were evacuated from the Luhansk region and 556 people from Mariupol. According to Mayor of Mariupol, 10,000 Mariupol residents have died since 24 February however these figures are still unverified. The city has faced some of the most intense fighting in Ukrainian since the start of the war. Thousands of residents have fled Mariupol, but many are still struggling to leave the city. Russian counterattacks against Ukrainian forces in Osokorkivka, north of Kherson, have failed; likewise, Russian advances west of Kherson in Oleksandrivka are believed to have failed.
Air sirens can be heard throughout cities in western Ukraine, however, no fatal airstrikes have been reported.
Developments in the West
On 11 April, the foreign ministers of the European Union discussed a sixth sanction package against Russia. The emphasis of the package will be to cut Russian gas imports. An embargo on Russian oil was supported by Ireland and the Baltics, however, Hungary opposed it. On 08 April, during her visit to Kyiv, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pledged a sixth package of sanctions against Russia just after the announcement of a fifth sanctions package the same day. Also, Head of EU Foreign Affairs, Joseph Borrell, called on EU countries to provide Ukraine with the weapons it has asked for. He told EU diplomats that the decision needs to be made in days, not in weeks, as Russia start to intensify its efforts in eastern Ukraine.
Furthermore, on 11 April, Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer became the first European leader since 24 February to meet President Putin in person near Moscow. The meeting lasted 75 minutes and Chancellor Nehammer described it as ‘not a friendly meeting’ without handshakes, photos and joint statements. He added, as people keep dying in Ukraine, the sanctions will stay in place, and that additional sanctions can be expected.
On 09 April, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Kyiv to meet Volodymyr Zelensky – they discussed, among other things, further sanctions on Russian energy sources. Johnson added that the UK will send new financial and military aid to support Ukrainian resistance. Austrian Chancellor Nehammer also met with Zelensky on the same day in Kyiv.
In Russia, General Dvornikov is now in command of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine. He is regarded as one of the most competent generals and has extensive experience and knowledge of combat in eastern Ukraine. What effects this appointment will have is still unknown, Putin will be hoping that combat effectiveness and morale improves under Dvornikov. Furthermore, there are reports from Russia that citizens who have previously been exempt from conscription due to medical reasons, are now being forced to conscript.
It is reported that there are 60,000 Russian troops in eastern Ukraine and that further reinforcements are expected from the withdrawn troops in Kyiv, but also from other parts of Russia. It is expected that Russia will launch a major offensive in eastern Ukraine in the coming days or weeks. Furthermore, once Mariupol has fallen, it is likely that the troops fighting there will join the campaign in eastern Ukraine. If Russia succeed in consolidating its presence in the Donbas, its likely that its second objective will be to secure southern Ukraine. This would entail troop movements from the east, along the southern land corridor, to Russia’s southern axis – west of Kherson. It is likely that these forces will then push westwards towards Mykolaiv and Odesa. At the moment, Russia’s southern axis is at large on the defensive, this is likely to remain the case until forces in the east have had significant success.
Furthermore, it is likely that Russia will continue to launch missile and airstrikes, targeting the whole of Ukraine. Although the main purpose of these attacks is to incapacitate key Ukrainian infrastructure and military facilities; they have an important, according to Russian military doctrine, secondary purpose, of causing panic, anxiousness, and uncertainty among the population. Thus, it is likely that military, as well as civilian targets, will continue to be targeted by Russian forces.
Finally, it is likely that the West will continue to impose sanctions on Russia, and it is likely that this will have sever impacts on Western economies, affecting governments as well as businesses and individuals.