Ukraine has reported at least seven civilians killed by Russian forces in weekend shelling as the country’s eastern provinces to continue to come under missile, rocket, and artillery fire.
Russia’s military efforts focus on seizing Ukraine’s industrial east, two other provinces in the northeast and southeast have also been targeted
One of the affected areas is Zaporizhzhia, home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which has seen 18 communities shelled. Bakhmut, in Donetsk, is the longest battle of the 13-month war and is crucial for the Kremlin, which seeks a path to push on toward larger Ukrainian-held cities. Ukraine has reported that Russian elite units are being moved to Bakhmut, while Russia’s military is making heavy use of artillery to offset other shortcomings.
The news has been highlighted in Easter messages from Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Pope Francis implored God to “help the beloved Ukrainian people on their journey towards peace, and shed the light of Easter upon the people of Russia.”
Archbishop Welby said the occasion provided hope that “true peace is no aimless daydream, but a reality offered because Christ was raised from the dead.”
Ukraine has been locked in a conflict with Russia since 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea
Although a ceasefire agreement was reached in 2015, sporadic fighting has continued along the frontline in eastern Ukraine, particularly in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. The situation has worsened in recent months, with both sides accusing the other of violating the ceasefire agreement.
The United States and NATO have expressed concern about the situation in Ukraine and called for Russia to withdraw its troops and heavy weaponry from eastern Ukraine. The European Union has also imposed economic sanctions on Russia over its role in the conflict.
Despite diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution, the conflict in Ukraine remains unresolved, and the latest reports of civilian deaths will add to the international community’s concern.