adept at attacking Russian command and control hubs and destroying large amounts of Russian equipment. On Monday, the Biden administration announced another round of support for Ukraine: $550 million in military aid, including more ammunition for 155-millimeter howitzer artillery pieces and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, that the United States has already provided.

But for all its sluggish or faltering progress in the war, Russia retains vast advantages in the size of its arsenal, and its military has shown a willingness and ability to strike all over the country, even as it focuses on gaining ground in eastern Ukraine. There, Russia has blanketed town after town with overwhelming artillery fire as it tries to reposition ground forces to press forward.

The strategy slowly gave Russia control of the eastern Luhansk Province, leaving many cities and villages in ruins. Russian forces have since moved to reinforce the south and to push into another eastern province, Donetsk.

“Their tactic remains much the same as it was during the hostilities in Luhansk region,” Serhiy Haidai, head of Ukraine’s Luhansk regional government, said on Monday.

He said the Russians were making daily attempts to mount an offensive on the city of Bakhmut, in Donetsk, but so far had failed to break through the main Ukrainian defensive lines.

Russian forces have also continued to shell residential and military areas in and around the city of Kharkiv in the northeast, putting pressure on Ukraine not to shift too many of its defenses from there.

In Chuhuiv, in the Kharkiv region and just 10 miles from Russian lines, residents were still recovering on Monday from missile strikes last week on the House of Culture, a building used since Soviet times for cultural events. In wartime, the building’s kitchens were used to prepare food for the needy, but members of the city government had also used it as a temporary office, possibly a reason for the attack.

The missiles killed three people sheltering in the basement and wounded several more, according to Oleh Synyehubov, the Kharkiv regional administrator. A volunteer cook was among the dead, residents said. His brother and several other people survived.

Two women were also killed, one of whom had been helping the cook, said a resident who gave only his first name, Maksim, wary of possible retribution. They were making an Uzbek rice dish, plov, for people in the neighborhood.

“She was just cleaning vegetables,” Maksim said.

Chuhuiv has come under increasing bombardment in recent days, as have the city of Kharkiv and other villages and towns in the province. Soldiers guarding the approaches to the city on Sunday said that artillery strikes had been steady much of the day, hitting an industrial area around the train station.

The Russians “are hitting lots of places like this, all the schools as well,” said Maksim. “They are doing it to make the people leave.”

People were getting the message, and the town was largely empty, he said. He was preparing to leave too, he said. He and his family had plans to emigrate to Canada.

“There is nothing left here,” he said.

Michael Schwirtz reported from Mykolaiv, Ukraine, Matina Stevis-Gridneff from Brussels and Matthew Mpoke Bigg from London. Reporting was contributed by Carlotta Gall and Kamila Hrabchuk from Chuhuiv, Ukraine, Marc Santora from London and Alan Yuhas from New York.

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Zelenskyy Visits Port As Ukraine Prepares To Ship Out Grain

Ukraine is a key global exporter of wheat, barley, corn and sunflower oil, and the loss of those supplies has raised global food prices.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited a Black Sea port Friday as crews prepared terminals to export grain trapped by Russia’s five-month-old war, work that was inching forward a week after a deal was struck to allow critical food supplies to flow to millions of impoverished people facing hunger worldwide.

“The first vessel, the first ship is being loaded since the beginning of the war,” Zelenskyy said at a port in the Odesa region.

He said, however, that the departure of wheat and other grain will begin with several ships that were already loaded but could not leave Ukrainian ports after Russia invaded in late February. Ukraine is a key global exporter of wheat, barley, corn and sunflower oil, and the loss of those supplies has raised global food prices, threatened political instability and helped push more people into poverty and hunger in already vulnerable countries.

Ukraine’s military is committed to the safety of ships, Zelenskyy said, adding that “it is important for us that Ukraine remains the guarantor of global food security.”

His unannounced visit to the port is part of a broader push by Ukraine to show the world that it is nearly ready to export millions of tons of grains after last week’s breakthrough agreements, which were brokered by Turkey and the United Nations and signed separately by Ukraine and Russia.

The sides agreed to facilitate the shipment of wheat and other grains from three Ukrainian ports through safe corridors on the Black Sea, as well as fertilizer and food from Russia.

But a Russian missile strike on Odesa hours after signing the deal has thrown Moscow’s commitment into question and raised new concerns about the safety of shipping crews, who also have to navigate waters strewn with explosive mines.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday emphasized the importance of maintaining a “link between taking grain out of Ukrainian ports and unblocking direct or indirect restrictions on the export of our grain, fertilizers and other goods to global markets.”

The security concerns and complexities of the agreements have set off a slow, cautious start, with no grains having yet left Ukrainian ports. The sides are facing a ticking clock — the deal is only good for 120 days.

The goal over the next four months is to get some 20 million tons of grain out of three Ukrainian sea ports blocked since the Feb. 24 invasion. That provides time for about four to five large bulk carriers per day to transport grain from the ports to millions of people in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, who are already facing food shortages and, in some cases, famine.

Getting wheat and other food out is also critical to farmers in Ukraine, who are running out of storage capacity amid a new harvest.

“We are ready,” Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov, told reporters at the port of Odesa on Friday.

But he said Ukraine is waiting on the U.N. to confirm the safe corridors that will be used by ships navigating the waters. In the meantime, a ship at the port of Chernomorsk was being loaded with grains, he said.

Martin Griffiths, the U.N. official who mediated the deals, cautioned that work was still being done to finalize the exact coordinates of the safest routes, saying this must be “absolutely nailed down.”

Lloyd’s List, a global publisher of shipping news, noted Friday that while U.N. officials are pushing for the initial voyage this week to show progress in the deal, continued uncertainty on key details will likely prevent an immediate ramping-up of shipments.

“Until those logistical issues and detailed outlines of safeguarding procedures are disseminated, charters will not be agreed and insurers will not be underwriting shipments,” wrote Bridget Diakun and Richard Meade of Lloyd’s List.

They note, however, that U.N. agencies, such as the World Food Program, have already arranged to charter much of the grain for urgent humanitarian needs.

Since the deal was signed a week ago, shipping companies have not rushed in because explosive mines are drifting in the waters, ship owners are assessing the risks and many still have questions over how the agreement will unfold.

Ukraine, Turkey and the U.N. are trying to show action on the deal signed a week ago. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told Al Jazeera on Thursday that “the deal has started in practice” and that the first ship leaving Ukraine with grains is expected to depart “very soon.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu expressed similar optimism in a press briefing, framing the deal as a significant step forward between the warring sides.

“This is not just a step being taken to lift the hurdles in front of the export of food. If implemented successfully, it will be a serious confidence-building measure for both sides,” he said.

The deal stipulates that Russia and Ukraine will provide “maximum assurances” for ships that brave the journey through the Black Sea to the Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.

For ships heading to Ukraine’s three ports, smaller Ukrainian pilot boats will guide the vessels through approved corridors. The entire operation will be overseen by a Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul staffed by officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations.

Once ships reach port, they will be loaded with tens of thousands of tons of grains before departing back to the Bosphorus Strait, where they will be boarded to inspect them for weapons. There will likely be inspections for ships embarking to Ukraine as well.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Russia Hits Ukraine’s Black Sea Port In Wake Of Grain Deal

By Associated Press
July 23, 2022

Two Russian Kalibr cruise missiles hit the port’s infrastructure and Ukrainian air defenses brought down two others.

Russian missiles hit Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa hours after Moscow and Kyiv signed deals to allow grain exports to resume from there. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry denounced Saturday’s strike as “spit in the face” of Turkey and the United Nations, which brokered the agreements.

Two Russian Kalibr cruise missiles hit the port’s infrastructure and Ukrainian air defenses brought down two others, the Ukrainian military’s Southern Command said. It didn’t specify the damage or say whether the strike caused casualties.

“It took less than 24 hours for Russia to launch a missile attack on Odesa’s port, breaking its promises and undermining its commitments before the U.N. and Turkey under the Istanbul agreement,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said. “In case of non-fulfillment, Russia will bear full responsibility for a global food crisis.”

Nikolenko described the missile strike on the 150th day of Russia’s war in Ukraine as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “spit in the face of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who made great efforts to reach agreement.”

Guterres’ office issued a statement saying the U.N. chief “unequivocally condemns” the strikes.

“Yesterday, all parties made clear commitments on the global stage to ensure the safe movement of Ukrainian grain and related products to global markets,” the statement said. “These products are desperately needed to address the global food crisis and ease the suffering of millions of people in need around the globe. Full implementation by the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Turkey is imperative.”

During a Friday signing ceremony in Istanbul, Guterres hailed the deals to open Ukraine’s ports in Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny to commercial food exports as “a beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever.”

The agreements were intended to clear the way for the shipment of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain and some Russian exports of grain and fertilizer held up by the war. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion of the country and naval blockade of its ports halted shipments.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press showed the deals called for a U.N.-led joint coordination center in Istanbul where officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey would oversee the scheduling and searches of cargo ships.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address that the agreements offered “a chance to prevent a global catastrophe – a famine that could lead to political chaos in many countries of the world, in particular in the countries that help us.”

The head of Zelenskyy’s office, Andriy Yermak, said on Twitter that the Odesa strike coming so soon after the endorsement of the Black Sea ports deal illustrated “the Russian diplomatic dichotomy.”

Along with the strike on Odesa, Russia’s military fired a barrage of missiles Saturday at an airfield and a railway facility in central Ukraine, killing at least three people, while Ukrainian forces launched rocket strikes on river crossings in a Russian-occupied southern region.

The attacks on key infrastructure marked new attempts by the warring parties to tip the scales of the grinding conflict in their favor.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Ukraine, Russia Sign U.N. Deal To Export Grain On Black Sea

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
July 22, 2022

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion and naval blockade have halted shipments

Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements Friday with Turkey and the United Nations clearing the way for exporting millions of tons of desperately needed Ukrainian grain — as well as Russian grain and fertilizer — ending a wartime standoff that had threatened food security around the globe.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signed separate deals with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. The ceremony in Istanbul was witnessed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea,” Guterres said. “A beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever.”

“You have overcome obstacles and put aside differences to pave the way for an initiative that will serve the common interests of all,” he said, addressing the Russian and Ukrainian representatives.

The deal will enable Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products that have been stuck in Black Sea ports due to the war.

Ukrainian and Russian military delegations had reached a tentative agreement last week on a U.N. plan that would also allow Russia to export its grain and fertilizers. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, stressed Friday that Ukraine and Russia would sign separate agreements, saying Ukraine “does not sign any documents with Russia.”

Guterres said the plan, known as the “Black Sea Initiative,” would open a path for significant volumes of commercial food exports from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea: Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.”

It would “bring relief for developing countries on the edge of bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people on the edge of famine.”

“It will help stabilize global food prices which were already at record levels even before the war – a true nightmare for developing countries,” Guterres added.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion of the country and naval blockade of its ports have halted shipments. Some grain is being transported through Europe by rail, road and river, but the prices of vital commodities like wheat and barley have soared during the nearly five-month war.

The deal makes provisions for the safe passage of ships. A control center will be established in Istanbul, staffed by U.N., Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials, to run and coordinate the process. Ships would undergo inspections to ensure they are not carrying weapons.

Podolyak insisted that no Russian ship would escort vessels and that there would be no Russian representative present at Ukrainian ports. Ukraine also plans an immediate military response “in case of provocations,” he said.

Guterres first raised the critical need to get Ukraine’s agricultural production and Russia’s grain and fertilizer back into world markets in late April during meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

He proposed a package deal in early June amid fears that the war was endangering food supplies for many developing nations and could worsen hunger for up to 181 million people.

Russian and Ukrainian officials have blamed each other for the blocked grain shipments. Moscow accused Ukraine of failing to remove sea mines at the ports to allow safe shipping and insisted on its right to check incoming ships for weapons. Ukraine has argued that Russia’s port blockade and launching of missiles from the Black Sea made any shipments unviable.

Ukraine has sought international guarantees that the Kremlin wouldn’t use the safe corridors to attack the key Black Sea port of Odesa. Ukrainian authorities have also accused Russia of stealing grain from eastern Ukraine and deliberately shelling Ukrainian fields to set them on fire.

In Washington, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. welcomes the agreement in principle.

“But what we’re focusing on now is holding Russia accountable for implementing this agreement and for enabling Ukrainian grain to get to world markets. It has been for far too long that Russia has enacted this blockade,” Price said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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As Russia Chokes Ukraine’s Grain Exports, Romania Tries to Fill In

Stopping at the edge of a vast field of barley on his farm in Prundu, 30 miles outside Romania’s capital city of Bucharest, Catalin Corbea pinched off a spiky flowered head from a stalk, rolled it between his hands, and then popped a seed in his mouth and bit down.

“Another 10 days to two weeks,” he said, explaining how much time was needed before the crop was ready for harvest.

Mr. Corbea, a farmer for nearly three decades, has rarely been through a season like this one. The Russians’ bloody creep into Ukraine, a breadbasket for the world, has caused an upheaval in global grain markets. Coastal blockades have trapped millions of tons of wheat and corn inside Ukraine. With famine stalking Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia, a frenetic scramble for new suppliers and alternate shipping routes is underway.

barge that had sunk in World War II.

Rain was not as plentiful in Prundu as Mr. Corbea would have liked it to be, but the timing was opportune when it did come. He bent down and picked up a fistful of dark, moist soil and caressed it. “This is perfect land,” he said.

67.5 million tons of cargo, more than a third of it grain. Now, with Odesa’s port closed off, some Ukrainian exports are making their way through Constanta’s complex.

Railway cars, stamped “Cereale” on their sides, spilled Ukrainian corn onto underground conveyor belts, sending up billowing dust clouds last week at the terminal operated by the American food giant Cargill. At a quay operated by COFCO, the largest food and agricultural processor in China, grain was being loaded onto a cargo ship from one of the enormous silos that lined its docks. At COFCO’s entry gate, trucks that displayed Ukraine’s distinctive blue-and-yellow-striped flag on their license plates waited for their cargoes of grain to be inspected before unloading.

During a visit to Kyiv last week, Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, said that since the beginning of the invasion more than a million tons of Ukrainian grain had passed through Constanta to locations around the world.

But logistical problems prevent more grain from making the journey. Ukraine’s rail gauges are wider than those elsewhere in Europe. Shipments have to be transferred at the border to Romanian trains, or each railway car has to be lifted off a Ukrainian undercarriage and wheels to one that can be used on Romanian tracks.

Truck traffic in Ukraine has been slowed by backups at border crossings — sometimes lasting days — along with gas shortages and damaged roadways. Russia has targeted export routes, according to Britain’s defense ministry.

Romania has its own transit issues. High-speed rail is rare, and the country lacks an extensive highway system. Constanta and the surrounding infrastructure, too, suffer from decades of underinvestment.

Over the past couple of months, the Romanian government has plowed money into clearing hundreds of rusted wagons from rail lines and refurbishing tracks that were abandoned when the Communist regime fell in 1989.

Still, trucks entering and exiting the port from the highway must share a single-lane roadway. An attendant mans the gate, which has to be lifted for each vehicle.

When the bulk of the Romanian harvest begins to arrive at the terminals in the next couple of weeks, the congestion will get significantly worse. Each day, 3,000 to 5,000 trucks will arrive, causing backups for miles on the highway that leads into Constanta, said Cristian Taranu, general manager at the terminals run by the Romanian port operator Umex.

Mr. Mircea’s farm is less than a 30-minute drive from Constanta. But “during the busiest periods, my trucks are waiting two, three days” just to enter the port’s complex so they can unload, he said through a translator.

That is one reason he is less sanguine than Mr. Corbea is about Romania’s ability to take advantage of farming and export opportunities.

“Port Constanta is not prepared for such an opportunity,” Mr. Mircea said. “They don’t have the infrastructure.”

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Russia’s Blockade of Ukraine Is ‘War Crime,’ Top E.U. Official Says

LONDON — The Russian blockade that has stopped Ukraine from exporting its vast storehouses of grain and other goods, threatening starvation in distant corners of the globe, is a “war crime,” the European Union’s top foreign policy official declared Monday.

The remarks by the official, Josep Borrell Fontelles, were among the strongest language from a Western leader in describing the Kremlin’s tactics to subjugate Ukraine nearly four months after it invaded, and with no end to the conflict in sight.

Before Russian forces began pounding Ukraine in February, it was a major exporter of grain, cooking oil and fertilizer. But the Black Sea blockade — along with Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian farmland and its destruction of agricultural infrastructure — has brought exports to a near standstill. The latest blow came Monday, when, Ukrainian regional authorities said, a Russian missile razed a food warehouse in Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest Black Sea port.

arriving in Luxembourg for a meeting of E.U. foreign ministers. “Millions of tons of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine while in the rest of the world, people are suffering hunger. This is a real war crime, so I cannot imagine that this will last much longer.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine made the same point in a remote address to the African Union on Monday. Moscow has deep ties to many African countries, which have been reluctant to criticize the invasion.

similar announcement on Sunday by Germany, Europe’s biggest economy. Denmark said it was also activating a plan to deal with looming shortages of gas that had been supplied by Russia.

The developments came as Russia, far from feeling the pain of lost fuel sales, found a savior in China, which reported on Monday that it was now the biggest buyer of Russian oil.

considering a suspension of fuel taxes to ease the strain on consumers.

NBC News, Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, said that the two Americans, Alex Drueke, 39, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, were “soldiers of fortune” who had been engaged in shelling and firing on Russian forces and should be “held responsible for the crimes they have committed.”

The sanctions imposed on Russia also played a role on Monday in an escalating confrontation with Lithuania, a member of both the European Union and NATO.

The Russian authorities threatened Lithuania with retaliation if the Baltic country did not swiftly reverse its ban on the transportation of some goods to Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave between Lithuania and Poland. Citing instructions from the European Union, Lithuania’s railway on Friday said it was halting the movement of goods from Russia that have been sanctioned by the European bloc.

Mr. Peskov told reporters the situation was “more than serious.” He called the new restrictions “an element of a blockade” of the region and a “violation of everything.”

small town of Toshkivka in Luhansk Province, part of the eastern region known as Donbas. That is where Russian forces have concentrated much of their military power as part of a plan to seize the region after having failed to occupy other parts of the country, including Kyiv, the capital, and Kharkiv, the second-largest city, in northern Ukraine.

Reports over the weekend suggested that Russian forces had broken through the Ukrainian front line in Toshkivka, about 12 miles southeast of the metropolitan area of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. Those are the last major cities in Luhansk not to have fallen into Russian hands. As of Monday, it remained unclear whether Russia had made any further advance there.

But Ukrainian officials said Russian forces had intensified shelling in and around Kharkiv, weeks after the Ukrainians had pushed them back, suggesting that Moscow still had territorial ambitions beyond Donbas.

“We de-occupied this region,” Mr. Zelensky said in an address to a conference of international policy experts in Italy. “And they want to do it again.”

Matthew Mpoke Bigg reported from London, Andrew Higgins from Warsaw, Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Druzhkivka, Ukraine, and Rick Gladstone from New York. Reporting was contributed by Valerie Hopkins and Oleksandr Chubko from Kyiv; Dan Bilefsky from Montreal; Monika Pronczuk from Brussels; Austin Ramzy from Hong Kong; Stanley Reed from London; and Zach Montague from Rehoboth Beach, Del.

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Fierce street fighting in Ukraine’s Sievierodonetsk, a pivotal battle for Donbas

  • Fierce street fighting for key eastern industrial city
  • Ukraine troops outnumbered, will not surrender-Zelenskiy
  • Eastern front under constant shelling
  • Efforts to evacuate thousands

KYIV/DRUZHKIVKA, Ukraine, June 7 (Reuters) – Ukrainian troops battled Russians street-to-street in the ruins of Sievierodonetsk on Tuesday, trying to hold onto gains from a surprise counter-offensive that had reversed momentum in one of the bloodiest land battles of the war.

The fight for the small industrial city has emerged as a pivotal battle in eastern Ukraine, with Russia focusing its offensive might there in the hope of achieving one of its stated war aims – to fully capture surrounding Luhansk province on behalf of separatist proxies.

After withdrawing from nearly all the city in the face of the Russian advance, Ukrainian forces staged a surprise counter-attack last week, driving the Russians from a swath of the city centre. Since then, the two armies have faced off across boulevards, both claiming to have inflicted huge casualties.

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“Our heroes are not giving up positions in Sievierodonetsk,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an overnight video address, describing fierce street fighting in the city. Earlier, he told reporters at a briefing the Ukrainians were outnumbered but still had “every chance” of fighting back.

Before Ukraine’s counter-offensive, Russia had seemed on the verge of encircling Ukraine’s garrison in Luhansk province, cutting off the main road to Sievierodonetsk and its twin city Lysychansk across the Siverskiy Donets river.

But following the counter-offensive, Zelenskiy made a surprise visit to Lysychansk on Sunday, personally demonstrating that Kyiv still had an open route to its troops’ redoubt.

Ukraine’s defence ministry said Russia was throwing troops and equipment into its drive to capture Sievierodonetsk. Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Monday the situation had worsened since the Ukrainian defenders had pushed back the Russians over the weekend.

REFOCUS

Luhansk and neighbouring Donetsk province, together known as the Donbas, have become Russia’s main focus since its forces were defeated at the outskirts of Kyiv in March and pushed back from the second biggest city Kharkiv last month.

Russia has been pressing from three main directions – east, north and south – to try to encircle the Ukrainians in the Donbas. Russia has made progress, but only slowly, failing to deal a decisive blow or to encircle the Ukrainians.

In its nightly update, the Ukrainian military said two civilians were killed in Russian shelling in the Donbas and Russian forces had fired at more than 20 communities, using artillery and air strikes.

In Druzhkivka, in the Ukrainian-held pocket of Donetsk province, residents were picking through the wreckage of houses obliterated by the latest shelling.

“Please help, we need materials for the roof, for the house, there are people without shelter,” shouted Nelya, outside her home where the roof had been shredded. “My niece, she has two small children, she had to cover one of her children with her own body.”

Nearby, Nadezhda picked up a children’s pink photo album and kindergarten exercise book from the ruins of her house, and put them on a shelf somehow still standing in the rubble.

“I do not even know where to start. I am standing here looking but I have no idea what to do. I start crying, I calm down, then I cry again.”

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, in what it calls a “special military operation” to stamp out what it sees as threats to its security. Ukraine and its Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war to grab territory.

CONSTANT SHELLING

Britain’s defence ministry said on Tuesday that Russia was still trying to cut off Sievierodonetsk by advancing from the north near Izium and from the south near Popasna. It said Russia’s progress from Popasna had stalled over the last week, while reports of heavy shelling near Izium suggested Moscow was preparing a new offensive there.

“Russia will almost certainly need to achieve a breakthrough on at least one of these axes to translate tactical gains to operational level success and progress towards its political objective of controlling all of Donetsk Oblast,” it said.

The Donetsk regional governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, told Ukrainian television there was constant shelling along the front line, with Russia attempting to push towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the two biggest Ukrainian-held cities in Donetsk.

Kyrylenko said efforts were underway to evacuate people from several towns, some under attack day and night, including Sloviansk where about 24,000 residents, around a quarter of the population, still remains.

“People are now understanding, though it is late, that it is time to leave,” he said.

Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest exporters of grain, and Western countries accuse Russia of creating risk of global famine by shutting Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Zelenskiy said Kyiv was gradually receiving “specific anti-ship systems”, and that these would be the best way to break a Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports.

Moscow denies blame for the food crisis, which it says was caused by Western sanctions.

Russia’s U.N. envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, stormed out of a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday as European Council President Charles Michel, addressing the 15-member body, accused Moscow of fueling the global food crisis with its invasion of Ukraine. read more

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would respond to Western deliveries of long-range weapons by pushing Ukrainian forces further back from Russia’s border.

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Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Peter Graff
Editing by Gareth Jones
Editing by Gareth Jones

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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