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Day 45 of the ongoing military conflict between Ukraine and Russia, without any sign of a permanent ceasefire. Below are the main events as they happen.
The Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) recognized the activities of the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on its territory as illegal, according to the decree of the republic's State Defense Committee.
"The activities of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission on the territory of the DPR are declared illegal and the presence of its officials - undesirable," the document says.
All representatives of the mission must leave the territory of the republic no later than April 30, the text said.
On April 8, DPR Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonova reported the arrest of an OSCE special mission employee for "committing illegal actions on the territory of the republic, which are incompatible with the mission's mandate."
She added that Donetsk prepared a draft decision to suspend the activities of the OSCE mission in the republic, as well as to recognize its prolongation as unlawful.
Japan Removes Neo-nazi Designation From Azov Battalion
Tokyo's Public Security Intelligence Agency (PSAI) has removed the neo-Nazi designation of the Ukrainian far-right Azov Battalion from Japan's 2021 manual on international terrorism.
"Recently, cases of misinformation have been published as if the PSAI recognized the Azov battalion as a neo-Nazi organization. We regret that this situation has arisen," the Japanese agency said, apologizing for the designation of a neo-Nazi organization as neo-Nazi.
"The 2021 guide includes data collected from various open sources, including foreign and Japanese media, research institutes and others," the statement said. It added that the results were not an independent assessment.
"This does not mean that the agency has recognized the Azov battalion as a neo-Nazi organization," it stressed despite the fact that the battalion's own logo bears Nazi insignia.
To prevent the circulation of incorrect information, the PSIA said it had decided to remove the description from the manual.
The Twitter account of the Ukrainian National Guard had posted a video boasting that Azov fighters greased their bullets with lard for use against Muslim Chechens on the Russian side.
The cancellation of the terrorist designation came after intelligence suggested that Azov militants had been planning terrorist attacks in Lvov against Western diplomats to force NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Azov is said to have been behind many war crimes in Ukraine, from killing civilians and trying to shift the blame to Moscow, to murdering prisoners of war of the Russian armed forces.
The nationalists also faced further accusations from Moscow of holding hostages in a maternity hospital in Mariupol, which would not be the first crime committed by the notorious far-right neo-Nazi group, as they opened fire on civilians during their evacuation of the city, killing at least two people and wounding four others.
Evacuation Attempt of Nationalist Leaders Fails
On the night of April 8, the Kiev regime made a new attempt to evacuate the leaders of the Ukrainian nationalists by sea from Mariupol, the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Igor Konashenkov, anounced to journalists.
"The Kiev regime does not stop trying to evacuate the leaders of the nationalist Azov regiment and foreign mercenaries from Mariupol," he pointed out.
"Earlier actions to airlift them out by helicopters failed. On the night of April 8, the Kiev regime made a new unsuccessful attempt to evacuate the leaders of the Ukrainian Nazis by sea," Konashenkov remarked.
According to the official representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Ukrainian cargo ship "Apache" under the Maltese flag followed at night in a caravan of ships from Taganrog Bay to the Kerch Strait.
At 22H38 Moscow time, 30 kilometers off Mariupol, it abruptly changed course and attempted to break into the seaport of Mariupol, which is blockaded by the Black Sea Fleet.
The cargo ship continued to move without responding to demands by Russian border guards to make contact through the international channel.
Warning artillery shots, fired by two border patrol boats along the vessel's course, did not cause a change of course or a slowdown in the cargo ship's speed, he said.
"As it was heading into port, the ship was conducting a radio exchange, transmitting messages: "'I'm a maniac, I'm coming to you,'" Konashenkov said, adding that signs of fire were seen offshore.
The cargo ship then diverted and the crew contacted the border guards, asking them to cease fire and stating that they were ready to comply with the requirements.
"As a result of the impact of the fire, there are no injuries among the ship's crew members. The ship's crew extinguished the fire on their own. After the inspection, the Ukrainian cargo ship Apache with the crew is escorted to the port of Yeysk," Konashenkov concluded.
Russia Denounces Ukrainian Provocation in Irpin City
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov denounced on Saturday that Ukrainian nationalists are preparing new intentional actions to blame Russia for the murder of civilians in the town of Irpin in Kiev province.
According to the Russian Defense entity, its troops left Irpin a week ago.
He indicated that the Russian military left the city more than a week ago and that the officers of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) plan to transfer, from the morgue of a hospital, the corpses of civilian residents who perished after the Ukrainian artillery attacks and leave them in the basement of a building outside the city.
Similarly, he detailed that later a staging will be organized in the forest, in the framework of which, supposedly, "will be eliminated" a Russian reconnaissance group which, according to the scenario, will arrive in Irpin to kill witnesses of war crimes by Russia.
The official also explained that they will present, as evidence, the corpses of Russian servicemen who were tortured and killed by nationalists.
"This cynical staged action [will be] organized for later broadcasting videos through Western media," Konashenkov specified.
Russia Opens Criminal Investigation on Kramatorsk Attack
On Friday, the Kramatorsk railroad station was attacked, while several civilians were evacuating. Following the attack by Ukrainian troops on the city of Kramatorsk, the Investigative Committee of Russia decided to open a criminal case to investigate the premeditated dissemination of false news about the Russian Armed Forces at the site.
Prior to the announcement, the spokesman for the militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), Eduard Basurin, explained that about 30 people were killed and 100 others were wounded by a missile attack on a railway station in the DPR town of Kramatorsk, which Russia believes was perpetrated by Ukraine.
"The Ukrainian side spread deliberately false information that the attack on the city was carried out by Russian soldiers. On the occasion of that fact a criminal case was also opened for the crime (...) public dissemination of deliberately false information about the Armed Forces of Russia," the Committee said on its channel on Telegram.
According to the entity, a file was opened "against the commander of the brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other unidentified persons", for "abuses against the civilian population", as well as "for the use in an armed conflict of means and methods prohibited by an international treaty signed by Russia".
This Friday a missile hit the train station in the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk while evacuating civilian population, resulting in several casualties. The head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, Pavel Kirilenko, stated that there were about 50 deaths, including five children, and 86 wounded, as reported by Russian local media.
Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry denied any involvement of Moscow and its troops in the attack. It specified that the Tochka-U missiles, fragments of which were found near the station, were only used by Ukraine, and the attack was launched by its troops from the Dobropolie region, 45 kilometers southwest of Kramatorsk.
He also added that the aim of this offensive was to thwart the mass exit of residents from the city in order to use them as human shields to defend positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as in other areas of the country.
The advisor to the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, Alexei Aristovich, minutes after the first reports of the attack appeared, said that an Iskander missile was used, contradicting what the DPR, Russia and the Ukrainian president, Volodymir Zalensky, declared. Russian media also reiterated that a Tochka was used, based on its very particular characteristics shown in photographs.