Ukraine reports bloody fighting in Bakhmut; Poland, Hungary ban grain imports from Ukraine | Top points
Bloody battles unprecedented in recent decades have been taking place in Ukraine’s Bakhmut and pro-Kyiv fighters are “doing everything” to hold on to the city. In the eastern city of Bakhmut, Russia and Ukraine’s armed forces are not only fighting a fierce battle, but the Kremlin forces have been maintaining their target on the city since it began the invasion of the eastern European country. On the other hand, Poland and Hungary have decided to ban imports of grain from neighbouring Ukraine to protect the local agricultural sector.
Here are the top developments:
Ban on Ukraine’s grain and wheat
After a flood of supply that depressed prices across the regions, the Polish and Hungarian governments on Saturday imposed a ban on the imports of grain and other food from Ukraine.
“Today, the government has decided on a regulation that prohibits the entry and importation of grain into Poland, but also dozens of other types of food (from Ukraine),” PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said during a party convention. Later, Poland joined the ban, reasoning that imports would cause severe damage to local farmers.
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Kyiv expressed regret about the Polish decision, saying that “resolving various issues by unilateral drastic actions will not accelerate a positive resolution of the situation”. Ukraine deemed the ban a breach of the existing bilateral agreements on exports and called for deliberation on the issue.
“We understand that Polish farmers are in a difficult situation, but we emphasize that Ukrainian farmers are in the most difficult situation right now,” it said in a statement.
‘Bloody battles’ in Bakhmut
Ukrainian defence officials said “bloody battles” unprecedented in recent decades have rocked Bakhmut.
“Our soldiers are doing everything in bloody and fierce battles to grind down (the enemy’s) combat capability and break its morale. Every day, in every corner of this city, they are successfully doing so,” a spokesperson of the Ukrainian military’s eastern command said.
Meanwhile, Russia’s defence ministry said earlier in the day that fighters from the Wagner mercenary group had captured two areas on the northern and southern outskirts of Bakhmut.
An intelligence update from the UK on Friday stated that pro-Kyiv fighters were forced to cede some territory in Bakhmut as Russia’s mounting attacks did not simmer down. Russia’s intentions in Bakhmut have been coupled with intense artillery fire in the last two days. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his routine video address on Saturday, did not rake up military offensives and Russia’s alleged scant gains in Bakhmut. He, however, iterated his desire to join NATO as soon as possible.
This came after the Ukrainian defence ministry on April 13 said that every day, the enemy (Russian force) carries out from 40 to 50 storming operations in Bakhmut and 500 shelling episodes. Russian fighters claimed they acceded 80% of the city while Ukraine deemed the claim as exaggerated.
The city, perceived as Russia’s main target in a winter offensive, had a pre-war populace of nearly 70,000 people.
Ukraine on support from G7
Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko on Saturday said that a new international economic support package of USD 115 billion could accord confidence to Ukraine. He said the confidence was relevant and significant amid heightened recognition that the Russia-Ukraine war could persist for longer than expected.
Marchenko said Group of Seven (G7) finance ministers assured him during this week’s International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings that their support for Ukraine was for as long as needed, a shift in stance from last year when there was more pressure for Ukraine to agree to end the war.
The Ukrainian minister noted the new pledge of economic support of the IMF’s USD 15.6 billion as “tremendously” important to Kyiv as the Russia-Ukraine war entered its second year in February.
“Financial support is very necessary as well as military support,” he said, while adding, “We should be ready that this war will last longer than expected.”
Putin’s Orthodox Easter Service celebration
Russian President Vladamir Putin attended an Easter service conducted by the Russian Orthodox Church, which has strongly backed the Kremlin leader’s decision to invade Ukraine. He attended the service last year too.
As per Reuters, the Russian leader crossed himself several times during the ceremony, known as the Divine Liturgy. When Patriarch Kirill announced “Christ has risen”, Putin joined the other members of the congregation with the reply “Truly he is risen”.