© Reuters. Ukrainian servicemen return from heavy fighting amid Russia?s attack on Ukraine, close to Bakhmut, Ukraine, April 15, 2023. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
(Reuters) – Russia hurled missiles at cities across Ukraine as people slept on Friday, killing at least 25 civilians in the first large-scale air strikes in nearly two months, as Kyiv said it was nearly ready to launch a huge assault to retake occupied land.
* Russia said its strategic bombers had carried out what it called high-precision missile strikes on Ukrainian army reserve units overnight to prevent them from getting to the frontline.
* Ukraine said at least 23 civilians were killed in central town of Uman and two in the southeastern city of Dnipro. Victims included several children.
* Russian-installed mayor of Donetsk city said seven people were killed when Ukrainian shelling hit a minibus. Reuters was not able to verify the report independently.
* The United States is “deeply disappointed” by Russia’s rejection of a U.S. embassy request to visit detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in prison, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the following:
– a decree that gives people living in parts of Ukraine under Moscow’s control a path to Russian citizenship, but means those who decline or who do not legalise their status could be deported.
– a decree formally increasing the maximum sentence for treason in Russia to life in jail
– a law allowing for naturalised Russian citizens who “threaten national security” to be stripped of their citizenship
* Putin said Russia must act quickly to counter the West’s “economic aggression” and will expand ties with countries in Eurasia, Africa and Latin America.
* Russian Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, sanctioned by the West and dubbed the “Butcher of Mariupol” by the EU, has been removed as deputy defence minister, reports said.
* A United Nations committee said it was deeply concerned about human rights violations by Russian forces and private military companies in Ukraine, including enforced disappearances, torture, rape and extrajudicial executions.
* The European Commission said it had reached a deal in principle to allow the transit of Ukrainian grain to resume through five European Union countries that had imposed restrictions.
* A new Russian decree exempts contracts with “friendly” countries and companies from a ban on Russian oil sales imposed in response to price caps.
* EU governments agreed to extend by a year the suspension of duties and quotas on imports from Ukraine to help its economy.
“As soon as there is God’s will, the weather and a decision by commanders, we will do it” – Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleskii Reznikov talks about counter-offensive.
“No one is left” – Serhii Lubivskyi looks at neighbours’ destroyed flats in bombed city of Uman.
“Today, in the face of the West’s economic aggression, the parliament, the government, all regional and local authorities need to act clearly and quickly work as one cohesive team” – Putin
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