Russian forces shell Druzhkivka, Donetsk Oblast: 2 civilians injured

Two civilians were injured in Russian shelling of Druzhkivka, a city in Donetsk Oblast, on Sunday, 9 April.

Russian forces deployed MLRS [multiple-launch rocket systems] to shell the city of Druzhkivka. Two civilians are known to have been injured. The roofs of several buildings were damaged, and several windows shattered.

According to early reports, Anastasiia Miedviedvieva, the spokeswoman for Donetsk Oblast Prosecutor’s Office, reported that Russian forces deployed a Smerch multiple-launch rocket system.

"Two civilians sustained injuries in the enemy attack: a 56-year-old woman and a 60-year-old man. Around eight private homes were damaged," Miedviedvieva said.

The investigation into the Druzhkivka shelling was initiated under Art 438.1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

Russian night attack on Zaporizhzhia: two reported killed

Russian forces have destroyed a house and killed two people during an overnight attack on Zaporizhzhia.

According to Anatolii Kurtiev, Secretary of Zaporizhzhia City Council, and  Yurii Malashko, Head of Zaporizhzhia Oblast Military Administration, two Russian missiles hit one private sector of the city at night. These beasts destroyed one house.

Windows and roofs were damaged in dozens of neighboring houses.

At this time, it is known that two people died – a man and an eleven-year-old child, who passed away in an ambulance.

The rubble is still being cleared – preliminary reports indicate three people lived in the house.

The US should have prosecuted violators of sanctions more harshly since 2014 – Politico

The Ministry of Justice of the US has investigated very few cases of violating the sanctions imposed against Russia since 2014 and took a tougher stance concerning this issue only after the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Politico analyzed the implementation of the sanctions, conducting export control, and executing other restrictions against Russia during its almost ten years-long war with Ukraine, which the Ministry of Justice of the US applied. The research was based on hundreds of pages of court documents and other materials and on interviews with more than ten former American officials who are experienced in national security and law enforcement.

The review’s findings suggest that, although Washington has since 2014 imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine, the Justice Department under the Obama and Trump administrations did not prioritize prosecutions related to that war, filing relatively few cases until after Putin escalated it in 2022.

Politico applied generous standards for what cases count, finding 14 criminal cases from January 2014 through February 2022. But some of the issues were only tangentially — if at all — related to Ukraine.

Such U.S. prosecutions have spiked in the months since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. Prosecutors have filed at least 18 cases involving indictments or charges targeting at least 39 people. But the records also show that the cases often are built on the alleged misdeeds of suspects dating back several years prior, meaning they potentially could have been prosecuted sooner.

Politico’s findings support critics who argue that Washington and the West were too lenient toward Russia for too long, especially regarding Ukraine. Such critics, who include Russian dissidents and Ukrainian activists, say America in particular should have imposed — and enforced — tougher Ukraine-related sanctions and other penalties more often and faster in the wake of the initial 2014 invasion.

The outlet remarks that in March 2022, the criminal indictment against Jack Hanick, ex-employee of Fox News, was unveiled. He was openly helping Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian oligarch, create the pro-Kremlin television empire for years while the latter was under US sanctions since 2014.

A few weeks before 24 February 2022, Americans secretly detained Hanick in the UK. On 2 March 2022, the Ministry of Justice presented its main tool for implementing the American sanctions against Russia – the KleptoCapture operative group. The next day, the institution publicly announced that Hanick was indicted.

The Ministry of Justice of the US touted it as "the first-ever criminal indictment charging a violation of U.S. sanctions arising from the 2014 Russian undermining of democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine."

"The timing was intended to send a message — the United States was cracking down on those who aid Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. But it also amplified a question in the mouths of many critics: Why hadn’t the United States prosecuted these people years earlier? After all, Russia was already facing U.S. sanctions put in place after it first attacked and occupied Ukraine’s Crimea and other regions in 2014 — a set of penalties designed to deter further aggression. If more cases had been brought, critics maintain, Putin may have been discouraged from pursuing his large-scale invasion in 2022," writes the outlet.

Justice Department defenders dismiss the idea that U.S. prosecutions could have thwarted Putin’s long-term obsession to fold Ukraine into Russia. They point to several potential reasons the department didn’t prosecute Hanick and others sooner, from the fact that such investigations take time and must meet a high bar to the argument that it wasn’t until 2018, amid anger over Russian interference in U.S. elections, that the U.S. began aiming sanctions at Russians with significant exposure to the U.S. financial — and legal — system.

Above all, former U.S. prosecutors said they were hampered by a lack of cooperation from other countries, even allies such as the UK when they wanted to go after sanctions evaders. Nonetheless, it is unclear if 2022 the Ministry of Justice of the White House put enough.