Emmanuel Macron wins a second term while Slovene PM Janez Janša loses his election bid. Many Western leaders are showing support for Kyiv, but a unified approach from the EU or Western powers is unlikely to develop soon.
- French President Emmanuel Macron has defeated his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen in the second election with the same candidates in a row, securing himself another five-year term. The pro-European president has promised to unite a divided France, but the election season did show that far-right policies have become normalised in the republic after Le Pen garnered 41.46 per cent of the vote. It is the first time in over two decades that a French president has won re-election. Read more about the election and what it means for Central Europe here.
- On Wednesday, 27 April, the US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin, will meet with representatives from 40 allied (20 NATO) countries to meet at Ramstein’s US military base in Germany to discuss Ukraine’s long-term security needs. However, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, acknowledged that there is no consensus on the issue yet, and he would not expect any decision before next month’s meeting which will also cover a potential embargo of Russian energy.
Russian War in Ukraine
- On 24 April, most Ukrainians celebrate Easter (according to the Julian calendar). However, Ukrainian cities were attacked both on Saturday, the day many are used to attending church and on Easter Sunday. In Chuguev, in the Kharkiv region, three civilians were injured after shelling, including 12-years old. On 23 April, the residential buildings of Odessa were attacked with rockets, eight were killed, including a 3-month child and 18 were injured.
- Air raid sirens were on Easter Sunday evening on almost all the territory of Ukraine, as well as on Monday morning. The oil refinery and a power plant in Kremenchuk, in the Poltava region, were hit by nine missiles, one person killed, and seven injured. On 25 April, two explosions were heard near Lviv, and several more in the Vinnytsia region, where victims have been reported. In both regions, five important objects of railway infrastructure had been damaged, the delays of 30 trains are expected.
- Russians did not provide a humanitarian corridor from Mariupol on Easter, the vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk called the UN for assistance. The city is blocked, and up to a thousand civilians found shelter at the Azovstal plant. The civilian deaths due to the blockade are estimated at least at 20,000.
- The Luhansk region is under constant attack by air and on the ground, people are evacuated by buses, Ukrainian authorities stress the risk of deportation of civilians from occupied areas. Lysychansk, Severodonetsk, Hirske, Popasna and Rubizhne were hit heavily, as well as the Donetsk region where five civilians were killed on April 24.
- The Russian military keeps attacking near Kharkiv, the intensive fighting was near Izyum, as well as in Luhansk and Donetsk regions, with minor advances of Russians. Mykolaiv and Zelenodolsk were hit by multiple rocket launches on April 21.
- The Ukrainian military prevented the Russian advance towards the south of the Mykolaiv region. The Russian military is building up near Huliaipole in the Zaporizhia region. The head of the Kryvyi Rih administration expects the attack on the city.
- Yesterday, Antony J. Blinken, the US Secretary of State, and Lloyd J. Austin, the Defence Secretary, made a trip to Kyiv to discuss military assistance to Ukraine with President Zelenskyy. In total, the US congress has approved 14.4 billion dollars worth of support to Ukraine in the form of military and non-military aid.
- Both Ukrainian and British intelligence expect pseudo referendums in occupied areas of the Kherson region soon, using a blueprint of 2014 referendums in Donetsk and Luhansk.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy estimated Ukrainian citizens forcibly deported to the Russian Federation from occupied territories as over 500,000. Meanwhile, the Russian Defence Ministry reported the number of 951,000 (including those taken before February 24, 174,689 among them are children). 308 Mariupol residents, including 90 children, had been deported as far as the Vladivostok region (the far East, the Pacific coast of Russia). Ukrainian children are reported to be forced to attend Russian language classes. Ukrainian investigators Slidstvo.info learnt that the Russian Orthodox Church takes part in the forced deportations.