Ukraine: Ukraine thwarts Russian troops at river, sees long battle ahead

DERGACHI: Ukrainian forces destroyed parts of a Russian armored column as it tried to cross a river in the Donbas region, a video from the Ukrainian army showed Friday, as Ukraine’s defense minister predicted weeks of fierce fighting lie ahead.
Ukrainian forces have evicted Russia from the second-largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in their fastest advance since Kremlin forces withdrew from Kiev and the northeast more than a month ago to focus their offensive on the Donbas region bordering Russia. .
The city, which has been heavily bombed, has been quiet for at least two weeks and Reuters journalists have confirmed that Ukraine now controls the territory extending to the Siverskyi Donets River, about 40 km (25 miles) to the east.
However, Moscow is still bombing villages north of Kharkov.
About 10 km (six miles) north of the city, firefighters doused smoldering wreckage in Dergachi after what local officials say was a nighttime Russian rocket attack on the House of Culture, which was used to distribute aid. Volunteers inside tried to rescue packages of baby diapers and formula.
“I can only call it a terrorist act,” the mayor, Vyacheslav Zadorenko, told Reuters. “They wanted to hit the base where we store supplies and cause a humanitarian disaster.”
Another rocket had hit the building on Thursday and Russian shelling had injured a clinic worker and killed a young couple in their home, he said.
Russia, which denies targeting civilians, said its forces shot down a Ukrainian Su-27 plane in the Kharkov region and knocked out the Kremenchuk oil refinery in central Ukraine.
It was not immediately possible to verify the reports.
Southeast of Kharkiv, Britain said Ukraine had stopped Russian troops crossing the Siverskyi Donets River west of Severodonetsk. Footage released by the Ukrainian Airborne Command shows several burnt-out military vehicles near parts of a partially submerged bridge and many other damaged or abandoned vehicles, including tanks, nearby.
Reuters was unable to immediately verify the report or when or where the collision occurred.
The Kremlin calls the February 24 invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation” to demilitarize a neighboring country that threatens its security. Ukraine says it poses no threat to Russia and that the deaths of thousands of civilians and the destruction of towns and villages show that Russia is waging a war of aggression.
“We are entering a new, long phase of the war,” Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a Facebook post, predicting “extremely tough weeks” in which he said Ukraine would be largely alone against a ” furious aggressor”.
In their first conversation since the invasion, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke by phone with Russian Defense Secretary Sergei Shoigu on Friday, demanding an immediate ceasefire and emphasizing the importance of open lines of communication.
Ukraine accused Russia of forcibly deporting more than 210,000 children since the invasion, saying they were among 1.2 million Ukrainians transferred against their will. The Kremlin says people have come to Russia to escape fighting.
In Kiev, a court began hearing the first case of what Ukraine says are more than 10,000 possible war crimes. A Russian soldier is accused of murdering a civilian. Moscow has accused Kiev of organizing such crimes.
In the southern port of Mariupol, Russian forces intensified their bombardment of the Azovstal steel mill, the last bastion of Ukrainian defenders in a city almost completely controlled by Russia after a siege of more than two months.
Some of the civilians recently evacuated from tunnels under the factory they sheltered described terrifying conditions.
“Every second was hell,” 51-year-old nurse Valentyna Demyanchuk told Reuters.
Around Snake Island, which Ukraine’s military intelligence said allows civilian shipping, renewed fighting could help Kiev resume grain exports vital to world supplies.
Ukraine said it damaged a Russian Navy logistics ship near Snake Island. The Russian Defense Ministry has not responded to a request for comment.
Satellite images from Maxar, a private US-based company, showed the aftermath of what it called possible missile strikes on a Russian landing craft near the island.
Meeting in Germany, foreign ministers of the G7 group of rich countries supported to give Ukraine more aid and weapons, and Josep Borrell, head of the European Union’s foreign policy, announced another 500 million euros in military aid to be approved by EU members next week. He expressed confidence that the bloc will agree an embargo on Russian oil.
Ukraine’s foreign minister said at the meeting that he hoped the EU holding Hungary would agree to the oil embargo. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants hundreds of millions of dollars in damages before agreeing to a ban.
In a video address late at night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the Russian invasion could cause famine in dozens of countries, leading to political instability and migration.
“Then how much would you have to spend to overcome the consequences? These are the questions to be answered by those who are dragging on sanctions against Russia or who are trying to delay aid to Ukraine,” he said.
A day after Finland committed itself to joining NATO, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said her country’s membership would bring stability and benefit countries around the Baltic Sea.
Joining the Western military alliance of 30 countries would end the neutrality the two states maintained during the Cold War and further expand NATO, something Russian President Vladimir Putin said with his invasion of Ukraine to prevent.
Moscow called Finland’s announcement hostile and threatened retaliation, but said a newspaper report that the Kremlin could stop gas supplies to Finland was most likely a “hoax”. ($1 = 0.9605 euros)

Leave a Comment