Ukraine’s Zelenskiy denounces Russian strikes on Orthodox Palm Sunday

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
An armoured military vehicle speeds through Chasiv Yar during heavy fighting at the fronttline of Bakhmut and Chasiv Yar, Ukraine, April 9, 2023.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy denounced Russian air strikes coinciding with the observance of Orthodox Palm Sunday, including an attack that killed a father and daughter at home in the city of Zaporizhzhia.

Ukraine’s military reported Russian attacks and shelling throughout the front, with the heaviest fighting still focused on two cities in eastern Donetsk region — Bakhmut and Avdiivka. Russian forces have been besieging Bakhmut for months in the longest battle in more than a year of war.

Ukraine’s State Emergencies Service said a 50-year-old man and his daughter, 11, were killed after Russian forces struck a residential building in Zaporizhzhia, in the southeast.

A woman identified as the wife and mother of the victims was pulled from under the rubble.

“This is how the terrorist state marks Palm Sunday,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. “This is how Russia places itself in even greater isolation from the world.”

The president praised several units defending positions in the east and said he hoped Palm Sunday next year “will take place with peace and freedom for all our people.”

The majority of Ukraine’s 41 million people are Orthodox Christians who celebrate Easter a week from now.

Pope Francis, who has been critical of Russia’s war, prayed for peace during Easter events in the Vatican: “Help the beloved Ukrainian people on their journey towards peace, and shed the light of Easter upon the people of Russia.”

Russia’s Defence Ministry said its forces had destroyed a depot containing 70,000 tonnes of fuel near Zaporizhzhia. It also said Russian forces had destroyed Ukrainian army warehouses storing missiles, ammunition and artillery in Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.


The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said more than 40 enemy attacks had been repelled over the past 24 hours.

It said Russian forces had launched unsuccessful advances on areas west of Bakhmut, now largely destroyed but with a pre-war population of 70,000. At least 10 towns and villages had come under Russian shelling.

The report said Russian forces also made no headway in attacks on Avdiivka, a second focus of fighting in the east, and reported widespread Russian shelling in northern regions. Officials in the south said Russian aircraft had used guided bombs against towns in Kherson region.

The military have said Ukrainian forces will keep defending Bakhmut against repeated Russian attacks, though Zelenskiy last week acknowledged that if troops risked being encircled they could be pulled back.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern military command, said on national television: “The enemy is trying to take our city-fortress at any cost.

“Although it is extremely difficult, we are still in control of the situation. Our units are holding back the enemy and inflicting a maximum of damage.”

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said Russian forces controlled the center of Bakhmut, with much of their actions now focusing on the city’s railway station.