Russia-Ukraine war: Nearly 100 children killed in April alone - UNICEF

Russia hits ammunition depots in Chernihiv • Russian forces fail to seize settlements in Donbas • Kherson to decide on independence or annexation

 A view shows an explosion at a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine May 11, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO)
A view shows an explosion at a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine May 11, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO)

Nearly 100 children were killed in Ukraine in April alone as a result of the Russian invasion of the country, UNICEF said on Thursday. 

"We believe the actual figures to be considerably higher," UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi said. 

Fighting on the ground

The Ukrainian armed forces announced on Thursday morning that Russia has been shelling the northwestern Ukrainian district of Chernihiv. Ukrainian media outlet Ukrinform reported that schools, office buildings and homes were damaged, and there are casualties, citing Chernihiv Regional Military Administration head Vyacheslav Chaus. The extent of the death toll is still being determined by rescuers and medics currently on the scene.

Russia confirmed on Thursday that its forces hit two ammunition depots in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported.

Three people were killed and another twelve were injured in a Russian missile attack in Novhorod-Siverskyi, a town in Chernihiv Oblast early Thursday morning. Several buildings were also damaged.

The defense ministry also said Russia had destroyed a Ukrainian S-300 air defense missile system in the Kharkiv region and a radar station near the city of Odesa. Russia has also fired on a number of other villages in Kharkiv including Tsyrkuny and Derhachi, according to Telegram posts from the Ukrainian Center for Strategic Studies and Information Security and the head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, respectively.  Three people were injured and one was killed in Derhachi.

Russia also said it shot down a Ukrainian drone near Snake Island, a remote outcrop taken by Russia on the first day of the invasion.

Russian troops launched a cruise missile across the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia at about 10 a.m. on Thursday, the Zaporizhzhia Regional State Administration announced on Facebook. According to Ukrainian media, a private building was set on fire.  

Moment of explosion at destroyed Azovstal steelworks in Ukraine's Mariupol, May 12, 2022 (credit: Reuters).

There is a continued threat of missile strikes from Belarus, as Belarusian forces gather at the borders of the Brest and Gomel regions. 

Russian troops have taken the town of Kreminna, according to The New York Times, and are continuing from there to push forward through the Luhansk region. The armed forces announced that cities and villages of the region have been shelled 26 times in the last 24 hours, and at least 24 houses were damaged. 

In Mariupol, Russia is still trying to destroy Ukrainian units in the vicinity of the Azovstal steel plant via airstrikes. Residents of Ukrainian forces trapped in the steel plant have asked Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to help with extracting their family members, according to Ukrinform.

Additionally, clashes continue in Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih.

The Ukrainian armed forces also said that, in the Donetsk and Luhansk territories, it fought off nine Russian attacks; destroyed eight tanks, six units of other armored combat vehicles, five cars and one Russian anti-aircraft gun; and shot down four Russian reconnaissance drones. 

Smoke rises above Azovstal steelworks, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this still image obtained from a recent drone video posted on social media. (credit: MARIUPOL CITY COUNCIL/VIA REUTERS)Smoke rises above Azovstal steelworks, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this still image obtained from a recent drone video posted on social media. (credit: MARIUPOL CITY COUNCIL/VIA REUTERS)

The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday passed a resolution by a strong majority, setting up an investigation into allegations of rights abuses by Russian troops in parts of Ukraine formerly under their control.

The Geneva-based Council passed the resolution through a vote, with 33 members voting in favor and 2 against (China, Eritrea). There were 12 abstentions.

Russia was recently suspended from the 47-member Council. However, it could still have joined the session as an observer but chose not to do so in protest at the resolution which it said amounted to political score-settling.

Ukrainian forces have damaged a modern Russian navy logistics ship in the Black Sea, setting it on fire, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration in southern Ukraine said on Thursday.

Spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said in an online post that the Vsevolod Bobrov had been struck near Snake Island, the scene of renewed fighting in recent days, but did not give details. The tiny island is located near Ukraine's sea border with Romania.

Gas Supplies

Wednesday's move by Ukraine to cut off Russian gas supplies through territory held by Russian-backed separatists was the first time the conflict has directly disrupted shipments to Europe.

Gas flows from Russia's export monopoly Gazprom to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter after Kyiv said it was forced to halt all flows from one route, through the Sokhranovka transit point in southern Russia.

Ukraine accused Russian-backed separatists of siphoning supplies. 

Should the supply cut persist, it would be the most direct impact so far on European energy markets.

Moscow has also imposed sanctions on the owner of the Polish part of the Yamal pipeline that carries Russian gas to Europe, as well as Gazprom's former German unit, whose subsidiaries service Europe's gas consumption.

The implications for Europe, which buys more than a third of its gas from Russia, were not immediately clear.

Russian annexation

In southern Ukraine, where Russia has seized a swathe of territory, Kyiv has said Moscow plans to hold a fake referendum on independence or annexation to make its occupation permanent.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday it was up to residents living in the Russian-occupied Kherson region to decide whether they wanted to join Russia, but any such decision must have a clear legal basis.

Casualties

Ukraine says it is likely that tens of thousands of people have been killed in Mariupol. Ukrainian authorities say between 150,000 and 170,000 of the city's 400,000 residents are still living there amid the Russian-occupied ruins. 

Video from Mariupol showed heavy equipment clearing rubble as residents charged mobile devices from a generator set up in a children's playground.

One resident, Sergei, described returning home to find a tank had blown up his apartment.

"I came home [from] the shelter, opened the door, but there was no apartment anymore. It was scary. Actually, it was very scary."

Russian war casualties include 26,650 personnel, 1,195 tanks, 534 artillery systems, 87 anti-aircraft warfare systems, 161 helicopters, 94 cruise missiles, 2,019 vehicles and 13 warships as of Thursday, according to the Ukrainian General Staff of Armed Forces.

War crimes

UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Thursday that a thousand bodies had been recovered in the area of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in recent weeks, adding that many of the violations it is verifying since the Russian invasion may amount to war crimes.

"The scale of unlawful killings, including indicia of summary executions in areas to the north of Kyiv, is shocking,"  she told the Geneva-based Human Rights Council via a video address.

The council will decide on Thursday whether to task investigators with an official probe into the events that occurred in Kyiv and other regions in February and March. 

Bachelet also stated that casualties in the city of Mariupol are "in the thousands," CNN reported.

Evacuations

More than 6 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion as of Thursday, according to the UN Refugee Agency.