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Ukraine war latest: Kremlin propagandist killed, Russia fails to ‘seize Donbas by the end of March’

by Sofiya Doig April 2, 2023 11:58 PM 3 min read
The consequences of the Russian missile attack on Kostyantynivka, Donetsk Oblast, that killed six civilians on April 2. (Telegram/Andriy Yermak)
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Key developments on April 1-2:

  • ISW: Russia’s goal to seize Donbas ‘by the end of March’ fails
  • Russian missile attack kills 6 civilians in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk Oblast
  • High-profile Russian propagandist killed in explosion in St Petersburg cafe
  • General Staff: Russia has lost 174,550 troops in Ukraine since the start of full-scale invasion
  • UK Defense Ministry: Second group of Ukrainian soldiers completes training on AS-90 howitzers

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) noted in their update on April 1 that Russia’s goal to seize Donbas by the end of March has failed.

Capturing Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern region, composed of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, has been Russia’s key goal, and the main focus of its military efforts.

The Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov announced on Dec. 22 last year that Russian forces would mainly focus their efforts on capturing the entirety of the Donetsk Oblast.

In late January, Russia began its winter offensive, focusing on taking hold of the cities of the Donbas region, with Bakhmut becoming the main hotspot.

“Eighty days on, it is increasingly apparent that (Gerasimov's) project has failed,” the UK Ministry of Defense wrote in its intelligence update on April 1.

Ukrainian officials chipped in on Russia’s inability to capture the Donetsk Oblast.

Colonel Oleksii Dmytrashkivskyi, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military defending the south of Donetsk Oblast said on Ukrainian national television on April 2 that the country's military has pushed the Russian troops back from several positions in the direction of Donetsk.

Dmytrashkivskyi added that Ukrainian forces “are now busy equipping these positions for defensive combat operations.”

At the same time, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar stressed that the situation in Bakhmut remains tense.

“The enemy is trying to engage not only the Wagner mercenary group, but also professional airborne units,” she said.

Maliar noted that “excessively high losses of personnel don’t stop Russia. Decisions are made emotionally.”

According to Ukrainian authorities, Russia lost more than 4,000 troops in the week from March 27 to April 2.

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Kremlin propagandist killed in explosion in St Petersburg cafe

Russian high-profile propagandist Vladlen Tatarsky was killed on April 2 in an explosion in a cafe in St Petersburg, as reported by Russian media. The explosion reportedly left 25 people injured.

The cafe, which reportedly once belonged to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the notorious Russian mercenary company the Wagner Group, was allegedly hosting an event for Tatarsky’s coverage of the war.

According to unconfirmed reports, the explosion happened just five minutes after a female visitor handed Tatarsky a trophy, which is now thought to have contained the explosive.

NATO countries to send total of 160 tanks to Ukraine

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told Die Welt on April 1 that NATO countries plan on sending two battalions of German Leopard-2 battle tanks and four battalions of Leopard-1 tanks to Ukraine.

The 160 tanks, however, account for roughly half the 300 tanks requested by Ukraine.

Poland, together with the allies, would send two battalions of Leopard-2 tanks, or a total of 60 tanks, according to Pistorious.

Four battalions of 100 Leopard-1 tanks could be delivered by the end of the year, he said.

Der Spiegel reported on March 27 that 18 Leopard-2 tanks had arrived in Ukraine.

Russia's attacks

The General Staff of Ukraine reported in its evening update on April 2 that over the past 24 hours, Russian forces carried out five missile and 22 air strikes, as well as 42 attacks from multiple rocket launchers.

The most devastating attack of the weekend took place in Kostiantynivka, a city only 13 kilometers west of Bakhmut. Early in the morning of April 2, Russian forces attacked Kostiantynivka with missiles.

Six civilians were killed and 11 injured, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s evening address on April 2.

A day earlier, Russians shelled the southern Kherson Oblast and the city of Kherson, killing one civilian and leaving four injured.

According to the General Staff, Russia continues to focus its main efforts on conducting offensives in Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Mariinka, which remain the epicenter of hostilities.

Read also: Ukraine changes combat bonus system, soldiers warn it might lower morale

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