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Ukraine war latest: Russian missile launchers, radar stations destroyed in Crimea, Ukraine ups production of Bohdana howitzers

by The Kyiv Independent news desk April 18, 2024 8:39 PM 6 min read
Ukraine's domestically-produced Bohdana self-propelled howitzer (Ukraine’s Defense Ministry)
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Key developments on April 18:

  • Ukraine destroys missile launchers, radar stations at Russian military airfield in Crimea, says Military intelligence
  • Reuters: Ukraine says Russia's use of illegal tear gas on battlefield is increasing
  • Zelensky: Ukraine to produce 10 Bohdana howitzers this month
  • German delegation promises new IRIS-T delivery shortly
  • Russian attacks on Donetsk Oblast kill 2, injure 3

Ukraine destroyed several units of military equipment in an attack on a Russian military airfield in Dzhankoi in occupied Crimea on April 17, Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) reported.

The agency said on April 18 that Ukrainian forces had destroyed four S-400 launchers, three radar stations, a command post for air defense operations, and air space surveillance equipment Fundament-M in the attack.

The total number of Russian military equipment, aircraft, and military personnel losses is still being determined, the agency added in a statement.

Explosions were reported near the airfield in the early hours of April 17, with local Telegram channels publishing footage of a large-scale fire. Later the same day, President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that Ukrainian forces had carried out the attack.

The local partisan group Atesh also claimed that the attack had hit Russian military equipment, as well as the command post.

In recent months, Ukraine has intensified its attacks on occupied Crimea, targeting Russian military assets in and around the Black Sea.

Ukrainian forces on April 15 carried out a missile attack on a command post in Crimea where top Russian offices were deployed, a military intelligence source told the Kyiv Independent.

Reuters: Ukraine says Russia's use of illegal tear gas on battlefield is increasing

Russian forces have been increasing their usage of riot control gas banned on the battlefield, Colonel Serhii Pakhomov, the acting head of the Ukrainian military's atomic, biological, and chemical defense forces, told Reuters in an interview published on April 18.

Ukrainian military officials have previously said that Russia is deploying chemical weapons on the battlefield in violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol. The usage of riot control gas in war is also banned under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, whose signatories include Russia.

Pakhmov told Reuters that Ukraine had recorded at least 900 uses of the banned riot control gas by Russian forces in the last six months, out of a total of 1,400 times since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. The command of Ukraine's Support Forces said earlier in April that Russia's usage of prohibited chemical weapons has reached "systemic" levels.

Russia has been primarily using K-51, VOH, and RH-VO hand grenades loaded with CS, CN, and other gases, Pakhomov said.

"It's like pepper spray, it makes your eyes tear up. It's not lethal, but it disturbs and knocks you out. It makes it very difficult to carry out your duties once you've inhaled it," a soldier told Reuters after experiencing a gas attack earlier in the year.

Pakhomov said that around 500 Ukrainian soldiers required medical attention after inhaling the gas, and at least one died as a result.

Dmytro Lykhovii, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Tavria Group of forces, said in March that Russia often employs riot control gas in an effort to try and clear trenches.

A Ukrainian military instructor told Reuters that its forces have been distributing gas masks and training soldiers on their proper usage.

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Zelensky: Ukraine to produce 10 Bohdana howitzers this month

Ukraine's defense industry is on track to produce 10 Bohdana howitzers this month, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on April 18.

The Bohdana is a domestically designed and produced self-propelled artillery system mounted on a six-wheeled truck chassis.

The highly mobile unit can fire NATO-standard 155 mm shells at a rate of up to five per minute.

The increasing number of Bohdanas being produced by Ukraine is part of a wider effort to ramp up domestic weapons production amid rising uncertainty surrounding military aid from the U.S.

"The share of our own production is constantly increasing," Zelensky said in a post on Telegram.

"The state signs serious, long-term contracts with our enterprises, which provide predictability, the ability to employ people, and attract investment.

"This month, our industry will produce 10 Bohdana self-propelled howitzers for the first time, and more will follow in May and later."

In late December last year, Zelensky said Ukraine had tripled its domestic production of equipment and weapons in 2023 compared to the year before.

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German vice-chancellor visits Kyiv as German delegation promises new IRIS-T delivery shortly

German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck arrived in Kyiv on the morning of April 18 for talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top Ukrainian officials.

This is the vice-chancellor's second trip to Ukraine since the start of the full-scale war. Habeck told the media that his visit meant to demonstrate that Germany's support "is not a one-time or short-term thing" but a firm commitment to Ukraine for as long as needed.

Habeck, who is also Germany's economy and environment minister, was accompanied by a business delegation that included Helmut Rauch, the head of Germany's Diehl Defense company that manufactures IRIS-T air defense systems.

In a comment for the German magazine Bild, Rauch said: "Three of our systems are already in Ukraine, and more will be delivered this year. The next one is just a few weeks away."

Kyiv has been increasingly calling on its partners to provide additional air defenses, like Patriot or IRIS-T systems, as Russia intensifies its strikes on Ukraine's cities and infrastructure.

Berlin has recently announced the delivery of an additional Patriot system to Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky said shortly after that Kyiv is in talks with Germany for an additional IRIS-T air defense system.

Germany has previously provided IRIS-T air defense systems to Ukraine, including three IRIS-T SLM systems, with a range of up to 40 kilometers, and one IRIS-T SLS, with a range of up to 12 kilometers.

Russian attacks on Donetsk Oblast kill 2, injure 3

Russian troops attacked several settlements in Donetsk Oblast on April 18, killing two and injuring three, local authorities reported.

Settlements in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk Oblast suffer from daily Russian attacks due to their proximity to the front line. Heavy fighting continues in Donetsk Oblast as Russia seeks to occupy the entire region.

A 63-year-old woman's body was found under the rubble in Selydove, which is located around 30 kilometers west of Russian-occupied Avdiivka.

In total, 11 buildings, an administrative facility, and a shop were damaged due to the attack on the town. One house was also destroyed, Ukraine's Interior Ministry reported.

Donetsk Oblast Governor Vadym Filashkin also reported on April 18 that a 56-year-old man had been killed in the village of Ocheretyne after a Russian attack directly hit his house.

Filashkin added that two other people were injured due to a Russian attack on the city of Krasnohorivka. A 74-year-old woman was also wounded in the Chasiv Yar community on April 18.

"It is dangerous to stay in Donetsk Oblast. Evacuate!" Filashkin wrote.

Russia attacked Donetsk Oblast 1,816 times, which included 10 missile strikes, over the past day on April 18, according to Ukraine's National Police.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry previously reported that Russian assault groups reached the northern outskirts of the village of Bohdanivka in Donetsk Oblast overnight on April 13.

The situation on Ukraine's eastern front has "significantly deteriorated in recent days," as Russia intensifies its offensive efforts, Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said earlier.

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