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Ukraine war latest: Ukraine celebrates Orthodox Easter under Russian bombardment
Key developments on April 16:
- Russia fires over 50 missiles, bombs at Ukraine as country celebrates Orthodox Easter
- 130 Ukrainian POWs return home from Russian captivity on Orthodox Easter
- Italy-provided howitzers reportedly in use in Ukraine
As Ukraine celebrated Orthodox Easter on April 16, Russian forces fired over 50 missiles and aerial bombs, killing and injuring civilians.
Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv oblasts were struck with 25 S-300 surface-to-air missiles, according to Ukraine's General Staff. Russian forces hit Snihurivka in Mykolaiv Oblast with 10 missiles killing two teenagers.
Russian forces also shelled over 70 settlements in Sumy, Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts.
Russian troops shelled a church in Nikopol in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, injuring two civilians.
The majority of Ukraine's population are Orthodox Christians, many of whom attended religious service on April 16.
In his Easter video address, President Volodymyr Zelensky said "perhaps the most difficult of the peaks is ahead of us."
"On this day a year ago, we all prayed that Ukraine would endure, today — that Ukraine will win," Zelensky said
130 Ukrainian POWs return home
One-hundred-thirty Ukrainian POWs returned home from Russian captivity on Orthodox Easter.
Soldiers, navy personnel, transport service employees, border guards, and national guardsmen were among those freed. They were captured during fights in Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts.
Before that, 100 Ukrainians were released in a prisoner exchange on April 10. Nearly half of the released sustained severe injuries, were suffering from illnesses, or had been tortured.
Thousands of Ukrainians remain in Russian captivity, whether in Russia itself or in Russian-occupied territories.
Military death toll
Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told the Spanish newspaper La Razon on April 16 that Ukraine's military casualties are "lower than the number of people killed by the earthquake in Turkey."
It is "critically smaller" than Russia's death toll, as Moscow is using its soldiers as "cannon fodder," he said.
The death toll of the powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquakes that hit Turkey on Feb. 6 has risen to 50,500.
Leaked U.S. intelligence files allege that from 15,500 to 17,500 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and from 109,000 to 113,500 were wounded in action, while Russia is believed to have 35,500-43,000 troops killed and 154,000-180,000 wounded, according to Reuters.
Neither the Ukrainian nor the Russian military have provided information on the number of casualties sustained in the war.
Moscow only confirmed around 6,000 of its troops being killed since February 2022, while Ukraine's General Staff reported Russia had lost 182,070 troops.
On the battlefield
The Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Marinka sectors in eastern Donetsk Oblast remain Russia's top assault priorities on the battlefield, according to Ukraine's General Staff.
Ukraine's forces repelled 45 Russian attacks in the most severe battles for the towns of Bakhmut and Marinka, the military said.
Italian newspaper La Republica reported that American-made M109 self-propelled 155 mm howitzers that Italy delivered to Ukraine are already on the front lines.
Italy intends to deliver 60 M109 howitzers to Ukraine "in the near future," the newspaper reported.
Several Western countries, including the U.S., have delivered M109 howitzers and rounds to Ukraine.