Russia’s war in Donbas picks up speed, Ukraine says – National

Ukraine said on Thursday that RussiaThe eastern offensive has picked up momentum, with several towns coming under heavy attack as Moscow’s forces attempt to encircle the Ukrainian army.

As a reminder of the terrible damage the war has inflicted since it began on 24 February, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visited towns outside Kyiv where the find evidence of mass killings of civilians after Russia withdrew from the area.

The fighting came quickly after Russia unexpectedly cut natural gas to two NATO nations on Wednesday, in what was seen as an attempt to punish and divide the West over its support for the alliance. with Ukraine ahead of a potentially important battle in the industrial area east of the Donbas.

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Ukraine’s General Staff said Russian forces had “used intense fire” in several places as they continued the second phase of the invasion.

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The most aggressive actions were around Donetsk and near Kharkiv, which lies outside the Donbas but is seen as key to Russia’s apparent attempt to encircle the Ukrainian army there.

Tatiana Pirogova talks about the intense fear of living under constant bombardment.

“It’s not just scary. That’s when your stomach contracts because of the pain,” said resident Kharkiv. “The day they filmed was fine, but at night I can’t describe how scary it was.”

In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian forces have repelled six attacks in the Donbas, control of which is now Moscow’s main focus since its initial offensive was foiled, the General Staff said. failed to capture the Ukrainian capital.

An aerial view of damage at Miske Cemetery following an air strike due to Russia’s repeated attacks on Ukraine in Kyiv, Ukraine April 27.

Dogukan Keskinkilic / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said the Russian military shelled residential areas in his area “29 times with planes, multiple rockets, artillery and mortars”.

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Satellite photos analyzed by the AP news agency also show evidence of heavy Russian open fire in Mariupol in recent days. The images show how the concentrated attacks have inflicted heavy damage on a central facility at the Azovstal steel plant, the last rebirth of Ukrainian fighters in the battlefield city important.

An estimated 1,000 civilians are sheltering along with some 2,000 Ukrainian fighters in the steel mill, a massive Soviet-era complex with a series of underground facilities built to combat air raids.

Meanwhile, Russia said a city under its control in the south was also burned.

As the fighting entered its third month, Mr Guterres on Thursday toured towns outside Kyiv, including Bucha, which have seen some of the deadliest attacks of the war.

“Civilians always pay the highest price,” he said while visiting the bombed suburb of Irpin. “And this is something that everyone should remember, everywhere in the world. Wherever there is war, civilians pay the highest price.”

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Evidence of atrocities was discovered in towns Guterres visited on Thursday after the Russians withdrew from the area in the face of fiercer-than-expected resistance from Ukrainians, supported by Western weapons.

In what could be a further Ukrainian counterattack, a series of explosions exploded near a television tower late Wednesday in Kherson, southern Ukraine, which has been occupied by Russian forces since the beginning of the war. . Ukrainian and Russian news organizations reported that the explosions had at least temporarily knocked out Russian TV channels.

Ukraine has called on its allies to send more military equipment so they can continue fighting.

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that “to date, NATO allies have committed and provided military assistance of at least $8 billion to Ukraine. And we see how important it is to further strengthen our support for Ukraine.”

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While Russia’s initial offensive campaign was fraught with difficulties – and the country suffered humiliating losses against a giant warship – the British Ministry of Defense said the Russian navy was still capable of striking coastal targets. sea ​​in Ukraine.

In an intelligence briefing published on Thursday morning, the ministry said about 20 Russian naval vessels, including submarines, are currently operating in the Black Sea region.

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However, the ministry said Russia cannot replace the guided-missile cruiser Moskva that sank earlier this month in the Black Sea because the Bosporus Strait remains closed to all non-Turkish warships. Russia also lost the Saratov landing ship, which was destroyed by an explosion and fire on March 24.

While advancing its campaign in the east, Moscow has also applied pressure by capitalizing on its biggest export product – energy, cutting off NATO members Poland and Bulgaria from natural gas. on Wednesday.

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire in a civilian area after a rocket hit the Velyka Danylivka neighborhood in Kharkiv on April 26.

Narciso Contreras / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

European leaders called the decision “an act of blackmail”, saying the move and the Kremlin’s warning that it could stop shipping goods to other countries was a failed attempt to divide split the West over its support for Ukraine.

The tactic against the two EU states could eventually force the target countries to consume gas and deal another blow to economies already suffering from rising prices. At the same time, it could deprive Russia of the necessary income to finance its war effort.

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The gas cuts did not immediately get the two countries into serious trouble. In particular, Poland has been working for years to line up other suppliers, and the continent is entering summer, making gas less essential to households.

Gazprom said it closed two countries because they refused to pay in rubles, as President Vladimir Putin asked the countries to be “unfriendly”. The Kremlin said other countries could have their contracts cut if they don’t agree to a payment agreement.

Click to play video: ''It's hard': Ukrainian negotiator Rustem Umerov speaks on challenges to peace talks'

‘It’s hard’: Ukrainian negotiator Rustem Umerov on challenges of peace talks

‘It’s hard’: Ukrainian negotiator Rustem Umerov on challenges of peace talks

European countries balked at Russia’s demand for the ruble. Moscow has since proposed a system it says meets their needs – but Europeans say that means they’re still paying in euros or dollars.

“Europe (and) Germany will pay in euros and others can pay in dollars, not rubles,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Wednesday. “The conversion, once the payments have been made, is a problem for Gazprom. We have discussed this with the European Union. We will continue down this path.”

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Still, the cuts and the Kremlin’s warning that other countries could follow will send shivers down the European Union’s 27-nation bloc. Germany is the world’s largest buyer of Russian energy and Italy is also a significant consumer, although it has also taken steps to reduce its dependence on Moscow.

© 2022 Canadian Press

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