Russian troops suffer low morale, continue attacking Ukraine on Orthodox Easter

Andrii, 42, left, comforts Iryna Tromssa, 55, during burial services for Bogdan Volodymerovuch Tromssa, 24 at a cemetery in Bucha, Ukraine on Saturday, April 23, 2022. Bogdan was paratrooper in the 95 brigade, died somewhere between Symu and Kharkiv. His body was almost unrecognizable. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI

April 24 (UPI) — Russian troops are suffering from low morale but are continuing to attack Ukraine as the two countries celebrate Orthodox Easter on Sunday.

“Despite Russia making some territorial gains, Ukrainian resistance has been strong across all axes and inflicted significant cost on Russian forces,” the British Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“Poor Russian morale and limited time to reconstitute, re-equip and reorganize forces from prior offensives are likely hindering Russian combat effectiveness.”

Before the war caused millions of Ukrainians to flee the country, there were about 35 million Orthodox Christians in Ukraine. Nearly 80% of Ukrainians identify as Orthodox Christian and another 10% identified as Catholic, which celebrated Easter last weekend. Orthodox Christians also make up the dominant religion in Russia.

Russian attacks in the Luhansk region of Ukraine have destroyed at least seven Orthodox Christian churches as the country celebrated Orthodox Easter, Sergiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk Regional State Administration, said in a statement.

“The Russians are erasing everything they come across from Luhansk. Even what they believe in are Orthodox churches,” Haidai said.

Haidai said that six people died and two more people were seriously injured after an artillery attack on the towns of Gorske and Zolote, as Russian forces fired at residential homes on Saturday.

Two women were also found dead under the debris of a house in Popasna that had been shelled, Haidai said. Humanitarian aid groups were able to evacuate 16 people from Popasna on Sunday but two cars sent to evacuate refugees were fired upon.

“On Easter, we ask God for great grace to make our great dream come true — this is another great day — the day when great peace will come to Ukraine. And with it, eternal harmony and prosperity,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, said in a video message.

“With faith and confidence in this, I congratulate all of you on Easter. Take care of yourselves. Take care of your loved ones. Take care of Ukraine!”

President Joe Biden also released a statement for Orthodox Easter that appeared to indirectly comment on the war in Ukraine. “During this sacred season, we hold in our prayers all those who are suffering from the brutality of war and persecution,” Biden said.

“We mourn with all those who have lost loved ones or who fear for their safety, and rededicate ourselves to working for peace with justice and for the freedom and security of all people.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Sunday that the humanitarian aid group is “deeply alarmed” by the continuing situation in Mariupol, which has been under siege throughout the invasion.”

Immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access is urgently required to allow for the voluntary safe passage of thousands of civilians and hundreds of wounded out of the city, including from the Azovstal plant area,” the statement reads.

The Red Cross aid that it has been working every day since the end of February to reach civilians in need in Mariupol and “other cities where civilians are trapped” and has repeatedly called for the voluntary safe passage of civilians out of these areas.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke with Zelensky by phone on Sunday and said that “the injured and civilians must definitely be evacuated from Mariupol where the situation was getting more and more saddening each passing day.”

“President Erdoğan said Turkey stood ready to provide any help within its means and offer any support, including mediation, during the negotiation process, and that Turkey had a positive view on the issue of guarantorship in principle,” according to a readout of the call from the country’s Directorate of Communications.

Zelensky said that the “important” phone conversation with Erdoğan came ahead of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“On the eve of his talks with Putin, I stressed the need for immediate evacuation of civilians from Mariupol, including Azovstal, and immediate exchange of blocked troops,” Zelensky said.

He added that the two leaders spoke about “the negotiation process” and coordination of security guarantees with Turkey and other countries.


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