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Ukraine and Eastern Europe

Stories under this heading cover Ukraine and Eastern Europe. 

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More than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners join army to fight against Russia

More than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners join army to fight against Russia

Thousands of Ukrainian prisoners have expressed interest in a new initiative that offers them the opportunity to exchange their prison sentence for military service. According to Ukrainian Deputy Justice Minister Olena Vysotska, more than 3,000 prisoners have already signed up to contribute to strengthening Ukraine's armed forces. "This response is in line with our expectations when introducing this legislation," Vysotska stated. Furthermore, she noted that up to 20,000 prisoners could potentially be eligible to participate in the programme, with approximately 4,500 having expressed interest thus far. It is important to stress that prisoners convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape, other sexual violence, and crimes against national security are excluded from this scheme. This development coincides with Ukraine's urgent need for additional troops in its ongoing conflict with Russia. Russia has similarly implemented analogous arrangements for prisoners of war in the context of this conflict.
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More than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners join army to fight against Russia

More than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners join army to fight against Russia

Thousands of Ukrainian prisoners have expressed interest in a new initiative that offers them the opportunity to exchange their prison sentence for military service. According to Ukrainian Deputy Justice Minister Olena Vysotska, more than 3,000 prisoners have already signed up to contribute to strengthening Ukraine's armed forces. "This response is in line with our expectations when introducing this legislation," Vysotska stated. Furthermore, she noted that up to 20,000 prisoners could potentially be eligible to participate in the programme, with approximately 4,500 having expressed interest thus far. It is important to stress that prisoners convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape, other sexual violence, and crimes against national security are excluded from this scheme. This development coincides with Ukraine's urgent need for additional troops in its ongoing conflict with Russia. Russia has similarly implemented analogous arrangements for prisoners of war in the context of this conflict.

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Russia launches strikes on Odesa and Kharkiv Oblasts, Zelensky visits Avdiivka

Russia launches strikes on Odesa and Kharkiv Oblasts, Zelensky visits Avdiivka

Early in the morning of Wednesday (19 April), Russia launched a wave of drone strikes on the southern Odesa Oblast, with two drones striking a "public infrastructure facility", according to the Odesa Oblast Military administration. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, Russia launched 12 Iranian-made Shahed "kamikaze" drones, of which ten were shot down. No casualties were reported after last night's attack, said the military administration. Explosions were heard around 2am in the morning of Wednesday, with air raid sirens having been activated a few minutes prior. Yesterday on Tuesday (18 April), the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the front-line town of Avdiivka, in Donetsk Oblast, located only 10km north of the city of Donetsk, which has been occupied by Russia since 2014. "I wish you nothing but victory – something that every Ukrainian desires and which holds great importance for all of us," Zelensky said. "I extend my wishes for good health to you and your loved ones and express sincere gratitude from every Ukrainian for the remarkable path that you tread each day." Russian forces made significant gains around Avdiivka in March, with Ukrainian military spokesperson Oleksii Dmytrashkivskyi acknowledging on 20 March that it could become a "second Bakhmut".
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Blackouts in Russian city of Belgorod after suspected Ukrainian drone strikes

Blackouts in Russian city of Belgorod after suspected Ukrainian drone strikes

Various media are reporting that Ukraine has launched a drone strike on power stations in the Russian city of Belgorod and the surrounding area overnight on Monday (17 April). Neither Ukraine nor Russia has officially confirmed the strikes. Shortly after the strikes local Telegram channels reported problems with electricity supply in parts of the city. The regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov confirmed that "two fires were recorded at civilian facilities" in Belgorod and Belgorod district, but stopped short of specifying exactly what caused the fires. In the past, suspected Ukrainian strikes inside Russian territory have rarely, if ever, been admitted as such by Russian authorities. "There are no casualties. All emergency services are on site, the fire is being put out," Gladkov said. Recently there has been an increase in reports of drone sightings and explosions in Russian regions bordering Ukraine, including in Belgorod Oblast. Last week on Monday (10 April), a UAV carrying an explosive device fell on an airfield in Belgorod, damaging a fence and signal cable.
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Poland to supply Ukraine with more fighter jets as Berlin approves re-export of East Germany stocks

Poland to supply Ukraine with more fighter jets as Berlin approves re-export of East Germany stocks

Poland has announced that it will supply Ukraine with more Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets after Berlin approved Warsaw's request to re-export the jets originally from East German stocks. Following the German government's approval of the re-export on Thursday (13 April), the total number of fighter jets that Poland has committed to sending to Ukraine will likely be around 20. Poland had earlier pledged 14 MiG-29s to Ukraine, with four having already been delivered. The Polish president's security adviser, Jacek Siewiera, has said Poland still has about 12 out of 23 MiG-29s that Poland bought from Germany 21 years ago, none of which have yet been sent to Ukraine. Yesterday's approval from Berlin will likely change this. Slovakia has also delivered four of its MiG-29 jets to Ukraine, with the government having approved 13. Despite the transfer of the Soviet-era jets to Ukraine being very helpful, Yurii Ihnat, Ukraine’s Air Force spokesperson, has said they are "unlikely to be a game changer at the front".
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Kremlin to crack down on draft dodgers, Ukraine has "much of the capability" for military success

Kremlin to crack down on draft dodgers, Ukraine has "much of the capability" for military success

On Tuesday (11 April), the Russian State Duma adopted a bill to create a digital unified register of Russian citizens eligible for military service in an apparent attempt to crack down on draft dodgers. According to the Institute for the Study of War, the register will harvest Russians' personal details - including medical, educational, and residence history, foreign citizenship status, and insurance and tax data - to establish whether someone is eligible. The draft law also approves summonses to be issued online. In the past, summonses have had to be delivered in person or to an employer, meaning that many have avoided the draft by moving away from where they live, or by not opening the door to military officials. If the summoned individual does not appear at the draft office within 20 days, they will be banned from driving vehicles, buying or selling real estate, and taking out loans, as well as leaving the country. Creating the register is likely a method to replace some of the "colossal losses" that Russia has faced in recent days, particularly near the settlements of Avdiivka and Marinka, according to the Ukrainian military.
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Russia shells Kherson Oblast over 70 times, promises bonuses for destroyed NATO tanks

Russia shells Kherson Oblast over 70 times, promises bonuses for destroyed NATO tanks

Russia has shelled Ukraine's southern Kherson Oblast 70 times over the past 24 hours, the region's Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said on Telegram on Monday morning (10 April). Firing a total of 360 shells in 78 attacks, 17 shells hit residential areas of the city of Kherson. There were no casualties reported, however, and 90 people were evacuated from areas of the oblast under Ukrainian government control. Ever since areas of Kherson region were liberated by Ukrainian forces in November 2022, the right bank of the Dnipro river has frequently been shelled by Russia firing across the river, causes regular civilians injuries and deaths. Meanwhile, documents recently leaked from US intelligence to The New York Times have revealed that Russia is supposedly offering an extra bonus to troops who that successfully damage or destroy NATO-supplied tanks in Ukraine.
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Poland, Czech Republic pledge more military aid to Ukraine as Zelensky visits Warsaw

Poland, Czech Republic pledge more military aid to Ukraine as Zelensky visits Warsaw

Poland has announced a swathe of new military aid to Ukraine as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Warsaw on Wednesday (5 April). Speaking in Warsaw, Zelensky announced that he and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda had agreed on the supply of armoured personnel carriers, self-propelled mortars and air defense systems. Additionally, President Duda announced that Poland will increase its donation of Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to 14.  Poland had previously donated four, has prepared to transfer four more, and is currently preparing to transfer six further jets that "can be transferred quite soon", according to President Duda. This is on top of 13 MiG-29 fighter jets that had been previously pledged by Slovakia. During the same visit, Poland and Ukraine also signed a joint memorandum on the reconstruction of war-damaged areas of Ukraine as well as on the production of 125mm tank rounds. On the same day, the Czech Republic also pledged a package of military aid worth $30m, including equipment that was currently in storage and "not needed" for the country's defense, according to Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová.
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Russian and Ukrainian losses as high as 10 to 1 on some days, says Ukraine

Russian and Ukrainian losses as high as 10 to 1 on some days, says Ukraine

Writing on Telegram on Thursday (30 March), the Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar has said that Russian and Ukrainian losses in the east of Ukraine are as high as 10 to 1 on some days. This comes a few hours after the UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Sky News that the total Russian number of dead and injured since 24 February 2022 could be as high as 220,000. "The Russian forces have some really significant and deep systemic problems at the moment in their efforts," Wallace said, adding the Russian military was making "almost no progress whatsoever." Meanwhile, the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces claimed on 29 March that Russia had lost approximately 172,340 troops in Ukraine since the beginning of its full-scale invasion, including 610 casualties just over the past day. Although these numbers are all but impossible to verify, reports do suggest very high casualty numbers, especially on the Russian side. In other news, Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has said that Ukraine's counteroffensive involving recent deliveries of Western tanks may begin in April or May, but cautioned that a lot depends on weather conditions.