Ukraine war latest: Russia reportedly loses 7 aircraft; Zelensky says Kharkiv 'protected' against potential offensive

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Key developments on April 6-7:

  • Prosecutor General's Office: Russian soldiers kill 3 Ukrainian POWs

  • Trump reportedly wants Ukraine to cede Crimea, Donbas to Russia

  • Russia lost 7 aircraft in Ukraine's April 5 attack on air base, source says

  • Zelensky says Kharkiv is prepared for a potential Russian offensive

  • North Korea’s missiles reportedly getting valuable battlefield testing in Ukraine

Russia allegedly lost seven military aircraft during Ukraine's April 5 drone attack on the Yeysk air base in Krasnodar Krai in Russia, a source at Ukraine’s military intelligence (HUR) told the Kyiv Independent on April 7.

Ukrainian forces attacked three Russian airfields on April 5 with unidentified drones. The joint operation of military intelligence and the Armed Forces hit the Yeysk, Engels-2, and Kursk airfields.

The intelligence source said the Ukrainian drone attack damaged four Russian Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jets, two transport aircraft, and one Beriev Be-200 Altair.

The Beriev Be-200 Altair is a jet-powered amphibious flying boat designed for fire fighting, search and rescue operations, and maritime patrol, as well as freight and passenger transportation.

The attack also destroyed the diesel power station of the airport, the source said.

The Yeysk air base is home to Russia’s Naval Aviation 859th Center for training pilots.

Ukrainian troops have intensified strikes against military and industrial targets in Russia in recent weeks. Ukraine has used domestically produced long-range drones to successfully attack oil refineries and weapons facilities, prompting Russia to announce increased air defense efforts in these areas.

Read also: How Ukraine hit a Russian drone factory 1,300 kilometers away

Trump reportedly wants Ukraine to cede Crimea, Donbas to Russia

Former U.S. President Donald Trump has privately said he could end Russia’s war by pressuring Ukraine to cede Crimea and Donbas to Moscow, the Washington Post reported on April 7, citing sources.

Trump has repeatedly said he could end Russia’s war within 24 hours if elected president, without specifying the steps for reaching a peace deal between Kyiv and Moscow.

The presumptive Republican nominee has also reportedly said he thinks both Moscow and Kyiv “want to save face, they want a way out,” claiming that Ukrainians in Russian-occupied territories would be okay with being part of Russia.

Read also: Ukrainians under occupation face deportation, loss of property after Putin’s new order

Russia illegally annexed Crimea and invaded the Donbas in 2014.

In 2022, Russia also occupied parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts and claimed to annex the regions along with the Donbas.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly said Kyiv would not cede territories in exchange for peace.

“It looks as if Donald Trump had already these 24 hours once in his time. We were at war, not a full-scale war, but we were at war and as I assume he had that time at his disposal, but he must have had some other priorities,” Zelensky told ABC News on June 9.

Zelensky introduced Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan at a G20 summit in November 2022. The peace plan includes the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops, establishing a tribunal for Russian war crimes, the release of all prisoners of war and deported Ukrainians, and the prevention of ecocide.

Trump is set to become the Republican nominee in the U.S. presidential election after former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley exited the presidential race on March 6.

He said in May that he would not commit to providing Ukraine with defense assistance if he won the 2024 election.

In mid-March, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin dismissed the idea of starting negotiations with Ukraine just because its ammunition stocks are dwindling, calling the notion “ridiculous.”

Kyiv faces increasingly critical ammunition shortages as $60 billion in support from the U.S., a key military donor, remains stalled by disputes in Congress.

A document from unsuccessful peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv in 2022, seen by the Wall Street Journal, indicates that Russian peace terms include severe restrictions on Ukraine's Armed Forces and a ban on joining military blocs like NATO. This would make the country permanently vulnerable to Russian aggression.

Read also: Alexander Khrebet: Don’t write off Ukrainians living under Russian occupation

Russian soldiers kill 3 Ukrainian POWs

The Prosecutor General's Office has opened an investigation into a video that purportedly shows Russian soldiers shooting three captured and unarmed Ukrainian servicemen in Kherson Oblast, the office announced on April 7.

The video was published on Russian Telegram channels on April 7, according to a statement by the Prosecutor General's Office released on Telegram.

Killing of POWs violates the Geneva Convention and constitutes a war crime.

The description of the video states the incident took place near Krynky village in Kherson Oblast.

In the video, several shots are fired by a Russian Armed Forces member at the unarmed and unmoving Ukrainian servicemen, according to the Prosecutor General's Office's statement.

As of March 18, Ukraine had collected pretrial information on over 128,000 victims of war crimes, according to Veronika Plotnikova, the head of the Coordinating Center for Support of Victims and Witnesses of the Prosecutor General's Office.

Read also: UN: At least 32 Ukrainian POWs executed in Russian captivity during winter

Zelensky: Kharkiv 'protected' against potential Russian offensive

President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview on April 6 that “Kharkiv is protected” in case Russia attempts to launch an offensive.

Russia recently intensified attacks on Kharkiv. A number of media outlets have reported that Russia may launch a ground offensive against Ukraine's second-largest city this year.

Ukraine's military intelligence called the potential attack on Kharkiv “a part of a Russian psychological operation,” adding that there were no signs of Moscow preparing new attack formations to carry out a ground offensive.

“Today, Kharkiv is not in danger,” Zelensky said, referring to the local defensive lines and the readiness of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

“Russians do not hide that (Kharkiv) is a desirable target,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky added that Kyiv monitors all “Russia's disinformation and Russian forces' movement on the front line.”

Russian troops could redeploy their forces “in one or another direction,” the president said.

Zelensky also said that Ukrainian authorities don't see a potential for an attack from Belarus. Yet, Ukrainian forces prepare a “reliable defense” in the northern direction.

According to Zelensky, building new defensive lines will be finished “in a few months.” The president also highlighted that 92-98% of the fortifications are completed along the most critical front lines.

In March, Zelensky announced that Ukraine was building 2,000 kilometers of fortifications across three lines of defense.

The Ukrainian government has already allocated Hr 20 billion ($512 million) for building fortifications in 2024, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said in April.

Earlier, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Ukrainian troops are building fortifications in expectation of a Russian offensive in the spring, though there are concerns that the progress is not fast enough.

On April 6, Russian forces launched a so-called double-tap attack on Kharkiv, luring emergency workers after the initial attack and then launching another one just as the rescue operation began.

Seven people were killed and 11 were wounded in the April 6 attack, according to the latest update by Serhii Bolvinov, the head of the investigative department of the regional police. He added that Russia had used Soviet-era S-300 missiles to attack the city.

The next day, missile and guided bomb attacks injured five people in the city.

Read also: Russia’s new guided bombs pose increasingly serious threat to Ukraine

North Korea’s missiles reportedly getting valuable battlefield testing in Ukraine

Russia's use of North Korean missiles during its offensive in Ukraine presents a unique opportunity for Pyongyang to assess its weaponry in actual combat scenarios, potentially gaining insights to enhance their effectiveness, according to a senior U.S. military official.

“I don’t believe that in my recent memory the North Korean military has had a battlefield laboratory quite like the Russians are affording them to have in Ukraine,” General Charles Flynn, the U.S. Army Pacific’s commanding general said, Bloomberg reports.

North Korea is emerging as a primary weapons provider for Russia, allegedly furnishing Moscow with comprehensive military provisions, which encompass ballistic missiles and reportedly over 3 million artillery shells.

During a visit to the sprawling U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, located approximately 80 kilometers south of Seoul, Flynn emphasized on April 6 that the U.S. will be closely monitoring the unfolding situation. He expressed significant concern that North Korea could acquire insights into their weaponry through the war in Ukraine that they wouldn't have had access to otherwise.

The U.S., South Korea, and other nations have accused North Korea of dispatching its latest nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to Russia. These missiles are purportedly designed to be easily concealed, rapidly deployed, and difficult to intercept.

Images supplied by the U.S. suggest that these missiles are Hwasong-11s, a broad category of short-range ballistic missiles known for their ability to accurately strike targets with precision, Bloomberg reports, citing weapons experts.

There have been at least 10 instances of Russia employing North Korean missiles to attack Ukraine, Jung Pak, the U.S. Senior Official for North Korea said in March.

Oleksandr Filchakov, the head of the Kharkiv Oblast prosecutor's office, said on March 14 that Russia had used almost 50 North Korean missiles in its assaults on Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion. This number is five times higher than the count provided by Pak.

Read also: Russia uses UN veto to block renewal of North Korea sanctions monitors

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