Ukraine faces drones on Easter night, Russia advances in East

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a joint press conference with U.S. President Joe Biden after their meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, 2023. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

Olesia Safronova
Bloomberg News

Russia marked Orthodox Easter with a drone attack across much of Ukraine, hours after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Kyiv’s forces had shot down a Russian fighter jet and as Kremlin troops pressed in Ukraine’s east.

Kremlin troops launched 24 Shahed-type UAVs over the southern region of Kherson, Dnipropetrovsk in central Ukraine, and the northeastern Kharkiv region overnight.

Ukraine’s air defense shot down 23 drones, its command said on Telegram. State Emergency Services said on X, formerly Twitter, that residential buildings were hit in the city of Kharkiv, injuring five people including a child.

In the Dnipropetrovsk region, a residential house and several infrastructure objects in the city of Dnipro were struck by drone debris, without casualties, local governor Serhiy Lysak said on Telegram.

In his nightly video address on Saturday, Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s 110th Separate Mechanized Brigade had downed a Russian Su-25 fighter plane in the Donetsk region earlier in the day, offering no additional details.

Ukraine’s armed forces estimate that 349 Russian aircraft and 325 helicopters have been lost since Vladimir Putin’s troops invaded in February 2022. The figures can’t be independently verified.

The nation stays united in prayer “for warriors, for those who protect Ukraine, for all civilians who work every day to make the country strong and efficient in overcoming evil forces,” Zelenskyy said.

Kremlin ground troops continue to press their advantage in eastern Ukraine while Kyiv’s forces await the arrival of new U.S. military aid.

“Russian forces made a notable tactical advance northwest of Avdiivka, near Arkhanhelske” in the Donetsk region on Friday night into Saturday, according to the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War.

“Ukrainian forces may have decided to trade space for time as they wait for the arrival of U.S. aid to the front line at scale in the coming weeks — an appropriate decision for an under-resourced force at risk of being outflanked,” ISW analysts said in a situational update late Saturday.

Russia’s defense ministry said Sunday its forces had captured the town of Ocheretyne in Donetsk. Ukraine hasn’t commented on the claim. The Ukrainian map service DeepState reported earlier that Russian troops had reached Ocheretyne’s administrative borders.

The significance of the town is that it lies near the “Pokrovsk-Kostyantynivka” road, which has become a vital supply route for the Ukrainian Army. It’s about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the town of Pokrovsk, which Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov recently named as one of Russia’s chief offensive goals.


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