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Ukraine updates: Russia reports strikes on distant Tatarstan

Published April 2, 2024last updated April 2, 2024

Several people were injured in strikes on industrial facilities in Tatarstan, deep inside Russia. Meanwhile, Ukraine has lowered the age limit for the draft.

A destroyed dormitory in Yelabuga, Tatarstan
The strikes hit a dormitory at an industrial park in Yelabuga, TatarstanImage: Ostorozhno Novosti/Handout via REUTERS
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Russia has reported drone strikes at industrial facilities in Tatarstan, including at an oil refinery and at a business park that produces chemicals and metals. Several people were reportedly wounded.

A Ukrainian intelligence source told Reuters that Kyiv had caused "significant damage" to a military target in Tatarstan, which is more than 1,100 kilometers (690 miles) away from the border.

Meanwhile, European officials are meeting in The Hague to discuss ways to prosecute Russia for war crimes committed in Ukraine.

They will open a formal mechanism for Ukrainians to register claims for compensation for damage or destruction to their homes.

Here are the main headlines from Russia's war in Ukraine on Tuesday, 2 April:

Skip next section Zelenskyy lowers draft age to 25
April 2, 2024

Zelenskyy lowers draft age to 25

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a bill to lower the age for mobilization to the armed forces from 27 to 25.

The bill was passed by parliament in May 2023, but was not immediately signed into law by the president. Zelenskyy had said in winter that he would only sign the bill if he was given a strong argument to do so.

Zelenskyy also separately signed a bill requiring men given waivers from service on disability grounds to undergo additional medical assessment and a third bill aimed at creating a database of people eligible for military service.

Kyiv has warned that Russia may plan another offensive later this spring or in summer and has been scaling up efforts to increase fortifications along the frontline.

Ukraine has been under martial law since the start of Russia's invasion in February 2022.

In December, Zelenskyy said that the military could mobilize up to 500,000 people. Last week, the Ukrainian military's chief of staff Oleksandr Syrskyi said that the figure had been "significantly reduced."

Skip next section Germany to contribute to €576m to Czech arms initiative
April 2, 2024

Germany to contribute to €576m to Czech arms initiative

The German government will contribute €576m ($620m) to a Czech arms initiative aimed at purchasing munitions outside the European Union to support Ukraine.

With this sum, "Germany will finance the purchase of 180,000 artillery shells" and thus provide "almost 40% of the total" amount promised by European countries participating in the project, according to the German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius.

The shells are expected to arrive at the front from June onwards.

After the EU failed to meet its promise of producing one million artillery shells for Ukraine by March 2024, the Czech Republic launched an initiative to purchase munitions from outside the bloc and pass them on to Kyiv. In February, Prague said it had already identified 800,000 available shells.

Last month, Germany promised several hundred million euros for the initiative, which also includes Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala says the initiative has raised enough money to purchase an initial 300,000 shells.

'It is in our own vital interest to support Ukraine'

Skip next section Russia appoints new Black Sea Fleet commander after Ukrainian attacks
April 2, 2024

Russia appoints new Black Sea Fleet commander after Ukrainian attacks

Vice Admiral Sergei Pinchuk has been appointed the new commander of Russia's dwindling Black Sea Fleet amid increasing Ukrainian attacks.

Kyiv, despite maintaining no navy of note, claims to have put a third of Russia's Black Sea vessels out of action in the two year's since Moscow's full-scale land invasion. Satellite images show that many Russian ships have moved further east to Novorossiysk to avoid attack.

Pinchuk's promotion follows the appointment of Admiral Alexander Moiseyev as commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, all part of a general reshuffle.

"On one hand, I congratulate you," said defense minister Sergei Shoigu in a video message published by the defense ministry, announcing a decree issued by President Vladimir Putin.

"On the other, I hope you understand the enormous responsibility that lies on your shoulders, and I hope that you will deal with the tasks which will be put before you."

Pinchuk, a 52-year-old career navy officer, was born in Sevastopol, the historic home of the Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014 but which has come under increasing attack from Ukrainian forces.

In the most recent strike, on March 24, Ukraine claimed to have hit two large landing ships and a communications centre in Sevastopol. Kyiv has previously hit ships in the Black Sea in night attacks using naval drones packed with explosives.

Expert: Russia's naval strategy 'falling apart'

Skip next section Russian court convicts Pussy Riot member Verzilov for Ukraine war criticism
April 2, 2024

Russian court convicts Pussy Riot member Verzilov for Ukraine war criticism

A Moscow court has sentenced in absentia Russian-Canadian activist Pyotr Verzilov to eight years and for months over content criticizing the war in Ukraine.

Verzilov is the unofficial spokesperson for the punk band and feminist activist group Pussy Riot and the founder of the Mediazona independent news site. He has published multiple posts on social media criticizing Russia's war in Ukraine.

Russian media said that he had been found guilty of spreading "deliberately false" information about the Russian military.

Verzilov left Russia in 2020 after authorities searched his home and he was charged with failing to inform the government he is a citizen of Canada. He announced last spring that he had joined the Ukrainian armed forces.

The ruling comes after Pussy Riot activist and former Moscow municipal deputy Lyusya Shtein was sentenced to six years in absentia last week for spreading "war fakes" on social media.

Shtein fled to Lithuania and then settled in Iceland in 2023.

Skip next section Ukraine invites citizens to register personal war damage
April 2, 2024

Ukraine invites citizens to register personal war damage

A "Register of Damage for Ukraine" was opened in The Hague on Tuesday in which Ukrainians can begin filing claims for damages suffered during the Russian invasion.

The register will initially focus on damage to real estate but should be expanded to include also other kinds of damage, said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at a conference organized by the Dutch government.

"This is the first material step that is being made," he said. "It is no less important to establish an international compensation mechanism in full and confiscate frozen Russian assets."

Kyiv wants to use frozen Russian assets to pay for war damages and reparations. The World Bank estimated in February that Ukraine would need $486 billion to rebuild the country, a figure which could double if compensation for the war's victims is taken into account, according to Ukraine.

The establishment of the register was recommended by a UN General Assembly resolution last year which called for Russia to be held accountable for its invasion and recognizing Moscow as responsible for reparations.

The Kremlin says it will do everything possible to stop the West "plundering" state assets to pay for reparations to Ukraine. Russia's UN ambassador said the provisions of the resolution were "legally null and void."

Skip next section Germany announces artillery ammunition for Ukraine
April 2, 2024

Germany announces artillery ammunition for Ukraine

Germany will supply Ukraine with 180,000 rounds of artillery ammunition, the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

The artillery will be provided as a contribution to a Czech-led plan to buy ammunition for Ukraine with a total price tag of €576 million ($618 million).

Artillery ammunition has become one of the most pressing needs for the Ukrainian military, with both sides relying on heavy cannon fire to hold positions on the battlefield.

The announcement follows a separate €478 million aid package for Ukraine that German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced last month.

"The total value of both support measures is therefore over one billion euros," a spokesperson for the Defense Ministry told Reuters on Tuesday.

Skip next section Hague conference discusses compensation for Russian war crimes
April 2, 2024

Hague conference discusses compensation for Russian war crimes

Ministers and officials from dozens of European countries will gather in The Hague on Tuesday for a conference on prosecuting Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

The Restoring Justice for Ukraine conference will initially focus on damage or destruction of residential property and will open a formal register where Ukrainians can submit compensation claims.

"This is the first material step that is being made," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the Restoring Justice for Ukraine conference in The Hague
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba spoke at the Restoring Justice for Ukraine conference in The HagueImage: Piroschka van de Wouw/REUTERS

"It's extremely important that we met here today, not just to discuss how we will be bringing Russia to account but also launching a very specific procedure that every Ukrainian who has suffered can benefit from," he added.

Among the speakers will be the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, who last year issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking Kremlin officials for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

"The Netherlands believes it is of vital importance that truth and justice be achieved both for Ukraine and for all victims of Russia's aggression," said the Dutch government, which is hosting the conference.

Skip next section Russia reports drone strikes at Tatarstan industrial sites
April 2, 2024

Russia reports drone strikes at Tatarstan industrial sites

At least six people were injured in drone attacks industrial facilities in Tatarstan, Russia, according to Moscow's state-run TASS news agency on Monday.

The drones reportedly hit a dormitory in a special economic zone near Yelabuga — more than 1,100 kilometers (690 miles) from Ukraine — that houses chemical and mechanical engineering facilities as well as metal treatment factories.

A destroyed dormitory in Yelabuga, Tatarstan
Several people were injured after strikes in the Russian city of YelabugaImage: Ostorozhno Novosti/Handout via REUTERS

"This morning, the republic's industrial enterprises in Yelabuga and Nizhnekamsk were attacked by drones. There is no serious damage, the technological process of the enterprises was not disrupted," Tatarstan's leader Rustam Minnikhanov said in a post on Telegram.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Nizhnekamsk said air defenses had thwarted an attempted attack on an oil refinery in his district. Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency said a drone hit the Taneco oil refinery, resulting in a fire that was quickly extinguished.

Analysis by the Reuters news agency showed that the facility's primary oil refining unit had been hit, although Russian officials said production had not been halted.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian intelligence source told Reuters that Kyiv's military spy agency caused "significant damage" to a military target in Tatarstan on Tuesday. It said the target was a factory involved in the production of Shahed long-range drones.

The Taneco oil refinery in Tatarstan
The Taneco oil refinery was reportedly among the industrial facilities that were hitImage: Tatarstan Republic President Press Office/TASS/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section Russia damages Ukrainian energy facility in fresh strikes
April 2, 2024

Russia damages Ukrainian energy facility in fresh strikes

Russia once again targeted Ukraine's energy infrastructure in a series of overnight attacks, Ukraine's military said on Tuesday.

Grid operator Ukrenergo said a Russian drone had hit a high-voltage substation in the Kirovohrad region, causing a fire.

Meanwhile, nine drones were shot down over Dnipropetrovsk, the regional governor said, with debris causing two fires in the regional capital of Dnipro.

Russia has pounded Ukraine's power stations and other energy infrastructure in recent weeks, causing blackouts in many regions.

Skip next section Russia border officers seize explosives concealed in Orthodox Christian icons
April 2, 2024

Russia border officers seize explosives concealed in Orthodox Christian icons

Russia seized dozens of kilograms of explosives at the border with Latvia, the FSB security service said on Tuesday.

The explosives were reportedly found "hidden" inside Orthodox Christian religious icons during a cargo inspection in the Pskov region near the Latvian border.

The FSB said the cargo was "part of the cross-border traffic of explosives from Ukraine through the European Union," and claimed that the cargo had passed through Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

One person was arrested.

Russian authorities said the explosives were seized near the border in the Pskov region
Russian authorities said the explosives were seized near the border in the Pskov regionImage: Russian Federal Security Service/dpa/picture alliance

zc/rc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)