Russia launches fresh attacks as Ukrainians celebrate Easter

At least two people have died in fresh Russian attacks in Ukraine in the city of Zaporizhzhya.

A man and an 11-year-old girl were killed when a missile hit a private home, authorities in the southern Ukrainian city said on Sunday.

The head of the presidential office in Kiev, Andriy Yermak, posted a photo of the wrecked house on his Telegram messaging channel.

He called the attackers “mean animals”.

Russia has annexed the Zaporizhzhya region but does not control the regional capital.

Mr Yermak and other members of the Ukrainian leadership wished a happy Easter to Ukrainians who – like Christians in the West – were celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said that the holiday also symbolised the victory of life over death.

Mr Zaluzhnyi thanked the Western allies who support Ukraine with weapons and ammunition, who are helping Ukraine “bring victory and the triumph of justice closer with each passing day.”

In Ukraine, more and more Christians now celebrate their holidays according to the Western rite rather than the old Julian calendar of the Russian Orthodox Church, which does not celebrate Easter for another week.

Traditionally, Orthodox Christians in Ukraine celebrated the church holidays in the same way as in neighbouring Russia.

With the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago, the public discussion became stronger to distinguish themselves from Russia also by changing the church calendar.

Russia is deliberately trying to give the appearance that the situation in the illegally annexed territories in Ukraine such as Zaporizhzhya has returned to normal, according to a daily British intelligence update.

At a recent meeting of the Russian Security Council, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev was chosen to speak about reconstruction, law enforcement and public order in the annexed territories, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a brief report on Sunday.

The choice of him as spokesman was presumably a sign of the desire to make the situation in the provinces appear as normal and everyday as possible.

In reality, however, the areas are still actively contested and many residents do not have access to the most basic services.

After launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow annexed four territories in southern and eastern Ukraine in violation of international law following sham referendums.

The four territories are Zaporizhzhya, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia had already annexed Crimea back in 2014, which has also not been recognised internationally.

In the same year, pro-Russian separatists proclaimed the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic with Moscow’s backing.

The British MoD has issued daily updates since the start of Russia’s most recent invasion. The reports, which Moscow sees as disinformation, are based on information from British intelligence services.

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