Russian air strikes on Sunday killed two more civilians and injured 15 as Ukrainians celebrated Orthodox Easter. The Kharkiv region’s prosecutor’s office reported on Sunday evening that the casualty toll from the afternoon attack on 20 apartment buildings had risen as residents continued to be treated for wounds.

The city’s Shevchenkivskyi district was hit three times with what the prosecutors’ office described as D30-SN glide bombs (air-launched ordnance with a diameter of 30 centimeters.)

Earlier in the day, Russian shelling in the district of Kupiansk in the same region killed two people. The attacks destroyed a private residential building and caused it to burst into flames. The charred bodies of a 34-year-old man and an 88-year-old woman were found in the rubble after first responders extinguished the fire.

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The night before, a Russian drone attack on the city had injured six and also killed two civilians in a rocket attack on a residential area of the Donetsk town of Pokrovsk.

Macron will warn Chinese president not to back Russia in its invasion

French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting his Chinese counterpart this week to dissuade Xi Jinping from backing Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. The visit will include both a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris and a trip to the Pyrenees Mountains, where Macron spent time as a boy. Xi arrived in France on Sunday, on a rainy day in Paris.

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The next six months are critical for Ukraine, and all bets are off as to its outcome. Even so, the author writes that the US mainstream press has turned negative about Ukraine’s prospects.

The meeting marks a pivotal moment for the West’s relationship with China and a very complicated one, considering Moscow’s courting of Beijing during the war, the continuing concerns over human rights issues in China, and the important economic relationships between all parties involved.

According to Agence France Presse, “Xi’s choice of France as the sole major European power to visit indicates the relative warmth in Sino-French relations since Macron made his own state visit to China in April 2023 and acknowledges the French leader’s stature as an EU powerbroker.”

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The two leaders will hold talks in Paris on Monday, and then will retreat to a Camp-David-like environment in the mountains separating France and Spain for less-formal chats.

In an opinion piece with the conservative French daily newspaper Le Figaro, Xi wrote that China was “neither a party nor a participant” in the conflict, and was optimistic that a diplomatic conclusion could be reached.

“China understands the repercussions of the Ukraine crisis on the people of Europe,” Xi wrote. “China did not start the Ukraine crisis, nor is it a party to or a participant in it. Nonetheless, China has been playing a constructive role in striving for peaceful settlement of the crisis. I have made many appeals, among others, observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and addressing the legitimate security concerns of all sides. I have stressed that nuclear weapons must not be used, and a nuclear war must not be fought. China has delivered to Ukraine many shipments of humanitarian aids, and sent its special representative many times to mediate among the countries concerned. The longer the Ukraine crisis drags on, the greater harm it will do to Europe and the world.”

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Moscow’s forces take another village near Avdiivka

The Russian Ministry of Defense on Sunday claimed that its forces had seized the village of Ocheretyne, about 20 kilometers northwest of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, and bloggers confirm that Moscow’s troops continue to fight westward.

The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces (AFU), Oleksandr Syrsky said last week that Ukraine’s troops had vacated three villages near Avdiivka and was building a new line of defense in the area, AFP reported.

According to the Institute for the Study of War, Russian forces also continued operations west and southwest of Avdiivka on Sunday, but made no confirmed advances.

“Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces made tactical advances in Netailove (southwest of Avdiivka) and advanced 300 meters in the settlement… and launched ground attacks west of Avdiivka near Umanske and Yasnobrodivka,” the ISW reported.

Geolocated footage published over the weekend, however, indicates that Ukrainian forces may have regained positions in Nevelske (southwest of Avdiivka) , facing elements of the Russian 15th Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Combined Arms Army.)

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EU to include Russia’s “Voice of Europe” and gas suppliers in new sanctions list

In a television interview on a Czech news program on Sunday, the Vice President of the European Commission, Vera Jurova, said that the upcoming, 14th package of EU sanctions on Russia will include the Kremlin-loyal ‘Voice of Europe”.

The media outlet was kicked out of the Czech Republic last month and reportedly has resumed operations in Kazakhstan, a popular destination for businesses to try to circumvent Western sanctions on Russia.

Jurova specifically referred to the media outlet as “a tool of Putin’s propaganda.”

She reported that the latest list of EU sanctions will include 67 individuals and 23 entities, notably those involved in supplying natural gas to European countries.

It remains to be seen how the latest action against Voice of Europe will be received by EU member Slovakia, which recently offered temporary protection its sanctioned head, Artem Marchevskyi, a Ukrainian and Israeli citizen, who is individually accused of running a pro-Russian disinformation campaign via the company’s Czech-registered website.

Last week, the US Treasury announced an updated list of nearly 200 individuals and entities facilitating commerce with Russia, including those who route their financial dealings and operations through China. 

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