Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Ukrainian and British officials on Saturday warned that Russian forces are relying on guns mass casualties in an attempt to make headway in conquering eastern Ukraine, and bitter, protracted fighting is draining resources on both sides.
Russian bombers are likely to have fired heavy anti-ship missiles from the 1960s in Ukraine, the UK Ministry of Defense has said. The Kh-22 missiles were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers with a nuclear warhead. When used in ground attacks with conventional warheads, they are “highly inaccurate and can therefore cause serious collateral damage and casualties,” the ministry said.
Both sides have expended vast amounts of weaponry in a grueling war of attrition for the eastern region of coal mines and factories known as Donbass, imposing huge strains on their resources and stockpiles.
Russia is likely deploying the 5.5-metric-ton (6.1-ton) anti-ship missiles because of a lack of more accurate modern missiles, the UK ministry said. Where exactly such missiles are said to have been stationed was not disclosed.
While Russia was also trying to consolidate its grip on territory captured so far in the 108-day war, the US Secretary of Defense said that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine “is what happens when oppressors trample on the rules that keep us in line.” protect everyone”.
“That’s what happens when major powers decide their imperial appetites are more important than the rights of their peaceful neighbors,” Lloyd Austin said during a visit to Asia. “And it’s a preview of a possible world of chaos and turmoil that none of us want to live in.”
GOVERNOR: FLAMETHROWER DEPLOYED IN LUHANSK
A Ukrainian governor accused Russia of using incendiary weapons in a village in eastern Luhansk province, southwest of the heavily contested towns from Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.
While the use of flamethrowers on the battlefield is legal, provincial governor Serhii Haidai claimed the night attacks in Vrubivka caused extensive damage to civilian facilities and an unknown number of casualties.
“At night the enemy used a flamethrower missile system – many houses burned down,” Haidai wrote on Telegram on Saturday. His claim could not be immediately verified.
Sievierodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk are the last major areas of Luhansk remaining under Ukrainian control. Haidai said Russian troops destroyed railroad depots, a brick factory and a glass factory.
The Ukrainian army said on Saturday that Russian forces would also launch an offensive on the city of Sloviansk in Donetsk province, which together with Luhansk forms the Donbass.
Moscow-backed rebels have controlled self-proclaimed republics in both provinces since 2014, and Russia is attempting to seize territory still in Ukrainian hands.
SELENSKYY SEEKS MORE EU SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA
During a visit by the European Union’s top official to Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy called for a new round of “even stronger” EU sanctions against Russia.
Zelenskyy urged them to target more Russian officials, including judges, and to hamper the activities of all Russian banks, including gas giant Gazprom’s bank, as well as any Russian companies that help Moscow “in any way”.
He spoke during a brief media appearance with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the President’s heavily guarded office compound in the Ukrainian capital. Von der Leyen was on her second visit to Ukraine since the February invasion.
The couple discussed Ukraine’s aspirations for EU membership. Zelenskyy, speaking through a translator, said Ukraine would “do everything” to integrate into the bloc.
“Russia wants to split Europe, wants to weaken Europe,” he said.
Von der Leyen said the EU executive was working “day and night” on an assessment of Ukraine’s suitability as an EU candidate. The goal is to have the review ready by the end of next week to share with the 27 existing members of the block.
Zelenskyy and some EU supporters want Ukraine to be included quickly. Von der Leyen described the accession process as “a merit-based path” and called on Ukraine to strengthen its rule of law, fight corruption and modernize its institutions.
She hailed Ukraine’s “strength and resilience” in the face of the “terrible and cruel” invasion by Russia and said the EU will help rebuild the country.
RUSSIA ESTABLISHES COMPANY TO SELL GRAIN FROM UKRAINE
Russian-installed officials in southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhia region have set up a company to buy up local grain and sell it on behalf of Moscow, a local official told Interfax news agency on Saturday.
Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of stealing Ukraine’s grain and causing a global food crisis that could leave millions dead from starvation.
Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the pro-Russian Zaporizhia Provisional Administration, said the new state-owned grain company has taken control of several plants.
He said: “The grain will be Russian” and “we don’t care who the buyer will be”.
It was not clear whether the peasants whose grain was being sold by Russia were being paid. Balitsky said his government would not seize grain by force or pressure producers to sell it.
The head of Ukraine’s presidential office accused the Russian military of shelling and burning grain fields before harvest. Andriy Yermak claimed that Moscow was “trying to repeat a Soviet-era famine” that claimed the lives of over 3 million Ukrainians in 1932-33.
“Our soldiers are putting out the fires, but (Russia’s) ‘food terrorism’ must be stopped,” Yermak wrote on Telegram on Saturday.
The veracity of his and Balitsky’s claims could not be independently verified.
RUSSIAN PASSPORTS FOR RESIDENTS OF UKRAINE
Russian troops occupying parts of southern Ukraine began issuing Russian passports to local residents Saturday.
In the Kherson region, 23 residents accepted the passports, including the new Moscow-installed governor, Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
“It’s a really historic moment for me. I have always thought that we are one country and one people,” Governor Volodymyr Saldo was quoted as saying by the news agency.
According to the Russian state news agency TASS, Russian forces also began issuing passports in the occupied city of Melitopol. A Telegram post by TASS cited a local official installed in Russia as the original source of the information.
It was not specified how many residents had applied for or received Russian citizenship.
Melitopol is outside the Donbass in the Zaporizhia region, which is still partly held by Ukraine.
DEATHS AMONG CHILDREN
Nearly 800 children have been killed or wounded in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, Ukrainian authorities said on Saturday.
At least 287 children died as a result of military activities, while at least 492 others were injured, according to a statement from the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine. The statement stressed that the figures were not definitive and that they were based on investigations by juvenile prosecutors.
The office said children in Donetsk province suffered the most, with 217 reported killed or wounded, compared with 132 and 116 in Kharkiv and Kyiv regions, respectively.
CIVIL DEATH BY EXPLOSION ON THE BEACH
Officials in the city of Odessa said Saturday a man was killed by a blast while visiting a Black Sea beach where mines are a growing problem.
The city council said by telegram that the man was there with his wife and son, despite warnings to stay away from beaches in the area. He was testing the temperature and depth of the water when the explosion erupted.
Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of laying mines in the Black Sea.
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