Good morning from a gloomy and rainy Kyiv, the weather here fully resembles the mood of Ukrainians, given the recent events, particularly because of another case of the public execution of one of Ukraine's defenders. For those who will celebrate Easter, in accordance with the Julian calendar, this upcoming Sunday , today is Maundy Thursday

What’s happening today?

Today, as they were yesterday, Ukraine's media headlines are dominated by two shocking videos depicting gruesome scenes of the beheadings by Russians of Ukrainian soldiers. The videos, believed to show two separate incidents, emerged during the week, causing shock and outrage.

The first video, posted on a pro-Russian social media channel on April 8, is said to have been filmed by Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group. It shows the mutilated bodies of two Ukrainian soldiers, lying next to a destroyed military vehicle. The victims appear to have been beheaded, with their bodies left on the ground.

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The second video, which, based on the amount of foliage seen around, appears to have been filmed during the summer. It also shows what appears to be the beheading of a Ukrainian soldier. The origin and authenticity of this video is yet to be verified

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has already denounced the Russian “beasts” responsible for what he said was the execution of a Ukrainian captive.

These disturbing videos have sparked widespread condemnation from international communities, with calls for an immediate investigation into the alleged atrocities.

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The EU pledged on Wednesday, April 12, to hold war criminals to account as it denounced the footage of the beheading of a Ukrainian prisoner of war by Russian forces.

“We don’t have more information on the veracity of the video. Having said that, if confirmed, this is yet another brutal reminder about the inhumane nature of the Russian aggression,” EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said.

European Council president Charles Michel later tweeted that he was “mortified by the atrocious video showing the murder of a Ukrainian prisoner of war by a Russian soldier.

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“Accountability and justice must prevail over terror and impunity. The EU will do everything possible to ensure that. The EU will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he wrote.

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said that after such facts, it is impossible to talk about any dialogue with Russia or the presence of Russian athletes at the Olympic Games.

"And yet we are literally talking about the need for dialogue & competing against each other in the Olympics? What are we doing here?"  he wrote.

Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, has also condemned the brutal execution of Ukrainian soldiers.

 "Horrified by the video circulating online showing Russian troops decapitating Ukrainian prisoner of war. This is inhuman and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms," wrote Pejčinović Burić.

Bruce Edwards, an Australian ambassador to Ukraine, tweeted that he was "appalled and sickened by further evidence of the brutality of Russian forces in Ukraine."

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"There is clear evidence that Russia has committed egregious war crimes in Ukraine & Australia continues to support efforts to ensure accountability," he stated.

According to observers from the United Nations. New footage that appears to show Russian soldiers beheading a Ukrainian prisoner of war is “not an isolated incident.”

What was in President Zelensky’s latest message?

 During his nightly address on Monday, April 12, Zelensky reported on his participation in a financial support meeting in Washington, D.C., which included finance ministers from strong democracies, the European Commission, and heads of international financial institutions.

The main theme of the meeting is the recovery of Ukraine after hostilities. Zelensky expressed gratitude to the partners for helping Ukraine maintain financial stability.

The President also emphasized the importance of holding Russia accountable for its aggression against Ukraine and using Russian assets to compensate for the losses suffered by Ukraine.

What’s the latest military situation?

The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) latest daily intelligence update on Ukraine noted the following:

·       Leaders of several Russian regions bordering Ukraine, as well as occupied Crimea, have announced that their usually high-profile 9 May Victory Day military parades will be cancelled.

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·       Some Russian cities further away from Ukraine have confirmed they plan to go ahead with Victory Day. The cancelled events have likely primarily been called off because of security concerns near the border, as officials have claimed.

·       However, the different approaches highlight a sensitive communications challenge for the Kremlin. Putin couches the ‘special military operation’ in the spirit of the Soviet experience in World War Two. The message risks sitting increasingly uneasily with the many Russians who have immediate insights into the mismanaged and failing campaign in Ukraine. Honoring the fallen of previous generations could easily blur into exposing the scope of the recent losses, which the Kremlin attempts to cover up.

The Institute for the Study of War’s April 12 daily assessment is fully dedicated to Russia's campaign of “Russification.”

According to an American think tank, The Kremlin’s campaign of “Russification” in Ukraine is burning back into Russia itself as it continues to empower and amplify overtly nationalist voices and ideologies. The ideologies that underpin the basis of this “Russification” also form the rhetorical backbone of the pro-war information space, which frequently mirrors its militarism with staunch Russian nationalism and intense xenophobia that is directed both at Ukraine and Ukrainian identity as well as at domestic minorities within Russia itself.

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"These domestic-facing ramifications of “Russification” ironically continue to place the onus of the war effort on the communities that it marginalizes. The Russian nationalist community continues to glorify atrocities and advocate for the expansion of brutality. Russian “milbloggers” responded to widely circulated footage of a Russian soldier beheading a Ukrainian prisoner of war. A Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel attempted to excuse the beheading by claiming that both sides engage in brutal acts and asserted that this beheading would not be the last violent execution during the war," the ISW states.

The ISW also notes that: 

·      Russian forces continued ground attacks in and around Bakhmut and along the Avdiivka-Donetsk line.

·      Russian forces continue to construct defenses in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast and Crimea.

·      Russian officials continue to advance a law aimed at improving the effectiveness of issuing summonses and cracking down on Russian draft dodgers.

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·      The Ukrainian Resistance Center released a report detailing the extent of illegal deportations of Ukrainian children from Donbas to the Russian Federation.

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