Hostilities in the war-torn conflict zone continue. Russian occupants keep shooting, using the weapons banned by Minsk agreements, which includes mortars and even artillery - in some cases. They also keep planting landmines remotely, using grenade launchers. Besides, pro-Kremlin militants announced military mobilization just when the Russian troops approached Ukraine’s border.
International Crisis Group released the report, stating that the Russian military invasion in Ukraine was unlikely. And it seems Russia really had no plans to go for such a move right now: on April 22, Russian forces that were deployed near the northeastern border of Ukraine and in the annexed Crimea received orders to get back to their home bases. At the same time, Russian militants stationed in Donbas removed their Grad multiple-launch rocket launch systems from the contact line.
President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed Russia’s move, describing it as a measure to calm down the tensions between Kyiv and Moscow.
This week, Ukraine and the EU agreed on the compatibility of Covid passports. The emergency and quarantine were extended in Ukraine until June 30. Besides, Ukraine got through the peak of third Covid-19 wave.
Meanwhile, Ukraine registered the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by South Korea.
EMA confirmed link between blood clots and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. From now on, the company will supply vaccine with warning about side effects. Moreover, use of Pfizer vaccine doubled deaths after the vaccination in UK compared to the AstraZeneca drug.
Besides, France to become first EU country to donate vaccines to developing countries.
On weekends, the Ukrainian consul was detained in Russia. Kyiv promised to respond reciprocally. Later, Russia expelled the Ukrainian consul, while the Ukrainian side expelled a senior diplomat from the Russian Embassy. Moreover, Russia announced two Bulgarian diplomats persona non grata.
Besides, this weekend, the Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian diplomats and urged other allies and partners to support such a decision with similar actions. The UK supported such a decision; while Russia condemned such actions and expelled 20 Czech diplomats.
Besides, Lithuania might expel Russian diplomats to support Czechia.
Moreover, Russia declared 10 employees of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow persona non grata. American diplomats should leave the territory of Russia until the end of the day, May 21. Besides, U.S. Ambassador in Moscow left Russia and flew to Washington for consultations.
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter
On April 19, NASA successfully launched the small helicopter on Mars for the first time. Ingenuity rose above the surface of Mars for about 3 meters and hanged for about 30 seconds. After it, the helicopter landed. The device passed to the Earth the photos from its camera and data from the Perseverance rover. On April 20, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has published the first video from the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars. The video shows that the Ingenuity helicopter was able to get off the ground and ‘hang’ above the surface of the planet for a while.
The Perseverance rover, which NASA launched on Mars last July, was able to obtain oxygen from the Red Planet's atmosphere. The test took place on April 20. The experimental instrument aboard Perseverance MOXIE accomplished the task. MOXIE’s oxygen production was quite modest – about 5 grams, equivalent to about 10 minutes worth of breathable oxygen for an astronaut.
On April 23, The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying Crew-2 mission astronauts on their way to the International Space Station has safely reached orbit. Crew Dragon successfully lifted off from the second stage and entered an intermediate orbit at an altitude of 201 km above the Earth at a speed of 26,998 km / h in 12 minutes and 7 seconds after launch.
Given the degree of tension in Donbas and the build-up of Russian military presence on the Ukrainian-Russian border, President Volodymyr Zelensky offered his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin to meet in person “anywhere in Donbas, where the war goes on” and discuss the current problems. The Russian leader replied, inviting Zelensky to Moscow.
Putin’s press secretary Dmitriy Peskov also announced conditions, under which such talks could take place. According to him, the two leaders can only discuss bilateral relations; as for any questions regarding Crimea, the official said that the Crimean issue “does not exist”. ”There is nothing to discuss”, Peskov said.
On April 19, PACE started its spring session. The Assembly initiated the signature of political statement about condemning Russian military escalation and provocations by the Russian side near the border of Ukraine. Besides, PACE pointed to Russia's disruption of peaceful efforts to resolve the situation in eastern Ukraine.
An incident happened during the session, Ukrainian delegate Oleksiy Honcharenko tried to display the national flag, shot with Russian bullets in Donbas conflict zone; however PACE President Rik Daems interrupted him and threatened with disciplinary sanctions. Ukrainian MP Oleg Voloshyn asked PACE to excuse his colleague Oleksiy Honcharenko's behavior..