Fighting rages in eastern Ukraine as US warns of long war

Ukraine battled Russian forces in its eastern region on Tuesday as missile fire hit the southern port of Odessa overnight, as the United States warned Russian President Vladimir Putin was ready for a long war.

Washington’s grim prediction came after Ukraine declared joining the European Union a matter of “war and peace” for the entire continent against Russia, well over two months after the invasion of Moscow.

kyiv also welcomed what it said was a shift in stance by EU powerhouse Germany on a Russian oil embargo and arms supply to Ukraine.

Violence raged in the south, where missile strikes in Odessa destroyed buildings overnight, torched a shopping center and killed one person, just hours after European Council President Charles Michel visited.

Officials also said around 1,000 soldiers remained trapped in increasingly dire circumstances at the Azovstal steelworks in the devastated city of Mariupol.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, but Ukrainian forces managed to push Moscow’s forces from Kyiv. The capital’s mayor said on Tuesday that two-thirds of its residents had returned.

Putin gave some hints about his plans, but US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Tuesday the Russian leader would not end the war with the Donbass campaign and was determined to build a land bridge to the territory. under Russian control in Moldova.

US intelligence also sees an increasing likelihood that Putin will mobilize his entire country, including by ordering martial law, and counts on his perseverance to exhaust Western support for Ukraine.

“Counting the Bombs”

Moscow has focused on the Russian-speaking Donbass region in the east, where separatists have been fighting since 2014, after failing to take kyiv.

Ukraine’s presidency said the “epicenter of the fighting had shifted” to Bilogorivka in the Lugansk region of the Donbass, the site of a deadly Russian airstrike on Sunday that Ukrainian officials said killed 60 people.

Shelling also continued in Ukraine’s easternmost strongholds, the sister cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, he added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces were ‘pushed back from’ Kharkiv – but that was tempered by a revelation from the region’s governor that 44 civilian bodies had been found under the rubble of a destroyed building in the city east of Izyum, now under Russian control. control.

His counterpart in Donetsk said three civilians were killed in the area on Tuesday.

Civilians struggled to survive between the ever-changing front lines.

“I feel utter apathy. I am morally starved – not to mention physically,” said mason Artyom Cherukha, 41, as he collected water flowing from a natural spring in Lysychansk.

He was trying to provide for his family of nine, as people in the area regularly lose access to water and food.

“We’re sitting here counting the bombs,” Cherukha said.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it hit 74 targets on Tuesday and shot down a Ukrainian drone over the strategic Snake Island in the Black Sea.

Germany “changed position”

Ukraine pushed Western countries for more support and particularly criticized Germany for its slow response and reluctance to give up Russian energy.

The tone changed on Tuesday with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s surprise visit to Bucha, a town outside kyiv where Russian troops have been accused of war crimes.

“I would like to thank Germany for changing its position on a number of issues,” including arms deliveries to kyiv and support for a Russian oil embargo, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro said. Kuleba to journalists in kyiv with Baerbock.

Kuleba lobbied for the European Union to admit his country.

“Ukraine’s EU membership is a matter of war and peace in Europe,” Kuleba said. “One of the reasons this war started is that Putin was convinced that Europe didn’t need Ukraine.”

US President Joe Biden has meanwhile resurrected a World War II measure to help kyiv, opening the taps on artillery, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank weapons and other powerful hardware.

On Tuesday, U.S. lawmakers were due to debate a nearly $40 billion aid package, which is expected to pass comfortably with scarce bipartisan support.

On Tuesday, Western powers separately accused Russian authorities of carrying out a cyberattack on a satellite network an hour before the invasion of Ukraine to pave the way for its assault.

“Urgent evacuation”

Moscow has made more progress in southern Ukraine but more than a thousand Ukrainian soldiers remain at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told AFP.

The factory is the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in the city, which has seen relentless destruction.

An online petition calling on the United Nations to extract all remaining soldiers garnered more than 1.1 million signatures on Tuesday.

“Hundreds of people are injured. There are seriously injured people who need to be evacuated urgently,” Vereshchuk said.

Scores of civilians have been evacuated from the plant in recent days as Russia pushes for full control of Mariupol to open a land corridor from Crimea, which it seized in 2014.

With Ukraine’s sovereignty at stake, Zelensky took the time to mourn his country’s first president, Leonid Kravchuk, who died at the age of 88 on Tuesday.

Zelensky said Kravchuk, who lived through the Nazi occupation during World War II as a boy, understood the horror of war.

“He wished peace for Ukraine with all his heart,” Zelensky said.

“I’m sure we will get there, we will get our victory and our peace.”

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