- The Donbass region is completely destroyed -Zelenskiy
- Group of Seven sends billions more to Ukraine
- US Senate approves $40 billion in additional aid
KYIV/SLATYNE, Ukraine, May 20 (Reuters) – Russian forces have stepped up their offensive in Ukraine’s Donbass region using artillery, rocket launchers and aircraft to damage defenses around Donetsk, it said on Friday. the Ukrainian General Staff.
“The Russian enemy carried out massive artillery bombardments on civilian infrastructure, including multiple rocket launchers,” he said in a statement.
Russian shelling in Luhansk, also in Donbass, has killed 13 civilians in the past 24 hours, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said.
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Twelve were killed in the town of Sievierodonesk, where a Russian assault had failed, he said.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said 232 children had been killed and 427 injured since the start of the Russian invasion.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports and Russia denies targeting civilians.
The industrial Donbass region, at the center of recent Russian offensives, has been destroyed, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said, as some of the world’s richest countries pledge to support kyiv with billions of dollars.
Since turning away from the Ukrainian capital, Russia has been using massive artillery and armor to try to seize more territory in the Donbass, made up of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which Moscow claims in the name of the separatists.
“The occupiers are trying to exert even more pressure. It’s hell out there – and that’s no exaggeration,” Zelenskiy said in a speech Thursday night. There were also “constant strikes” on the Odessa region in the south, he said.
“Donbass is completely destroyed,” he said.
Moscow calls its invasion a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of fascists, a claim kyiv and its Western allies see as a baseless pretext for unprovoked war.
Russia is likely to step up its operations in the Donbass region once it secures the southern port city of Mariupol, the scene of a week-long siege, British military intelligence said.
As the invasion nears the three-month mark, the US Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved nearly $40 billion in new aid for Ukraine, by far the largest US aid package so far. day.
The rich Group of Seven countries also agreed to provide Ukraine with $18.4 billion. Ukraine said the money would hasten victory over Russia and was just as important as “the weapons you provide”.
The White House is working to get advanced anti-ship missiles into the hands of Ukrainian fighters to help defeat the Russian naval blockade, officials said. Read more
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Russia of using food as a weapon by holding supplies “hostage” not only for Ukrainians, but also for millions around the world. Read more
The war caused a spike in world prices for grain, cooking oil, fuel and fertilizer.
The EU has said it is looking for ways to use the frozen assets of Russian oligarchs to fund Ukraine’s reconstruction, while the US has not ruled out the possibility of imposing sanctions on countries that buy Russian oil.
But divisions within NATO have also been highlighted, with Turkey opposing Sweden and Finland joining the alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a move that would reverse generations of military misalignment.
Ankara accuses the two Nordic states of harboring Kurdish militants, but US President Joe Biden and European leaders have said they are confident Turkey’s concerns can be addressed. Read more
Last week Russia scored its biggest victory since the invasion began, with kyiv announcing that it had ordered its garrison at a steel mill in Mariupol to withdraw after a prolonged siege.
According to British military intelligence, as many as 1,700 troops are likely to have turned up at the Azovstal steel plant, matching a similar number released by Moscow on Thursday.
Ukrainian officials, who have called for a prisoner swap, declined to comment on the number, saying it could jeopardize rescue efforts.
Late Thursday, Svyatoslav Palamar, deputy chief of the Azov regiment defending the steel plant, released an 18-second video in which he said he and other commanders were still on the plant’s territory.
“There is a certain operation going on, the details of which I will not divulge,” he said.
The Switzerland-based International Committee of the Red Cross said it had registered hundreds of prisoners from the now Russian-held factory, but it did not give a specific number.
The leader of the Russian-backed separatists who control the region said nearly half of the fighters remained inside the steelworks.
The injured were given medical treatment while those who were fit were taken to a penal colony and were treated well, he said.
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Reporting by Natalia Zinets and Max Hunder in Kyiv and a Reuters reporter in Mariupol; Additional reports by Reuters offices; Written by Richard Pullin and Stephen Coates; Editing by Angus MacSwan
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