He hopes to evacuate more civilians from the besieged Mariupol steel plant on Saturday as Russian forces launched fresh bombings across the country ahead of Moscow’s Victory Day celebrations.
The Azovstal Steel Plant is the last enclave of Ukrainian resistance in the devastated port city, and its fate has taken on symbolic value in the wider battle unleashed by the Russian invasion.
Ukraine’s defense minister said Russian forces had resumed their assault on the site, despite earlier talk of a truce to allow trapped civilians to escape from the compound.
Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshuk said rescuers will tryon Saturday.
Ukrainian forces launched a counterattack on its part.
According to the Defense Ministry, Russian forces were forced to demolish three road bridges near Tyrkoni and Russky Tishki outside Kharkiv, to slow the Ukrainian advance.
According to British intelligence, Ukrainian forces equipped with advanced weapons by the Western allies managed to destroy at least one of the most advanced Russian tanks, the T-90M.
On Monday, Moscow and President Vladimir Putin celebrate the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II over Nazi Germany with a traditional Victory Day parade.
The Russian campaign in Ukraine met with stiff resistance — and prompted Kyiv’s Western allies to impose massive economic sanctions on the Russian economy and Putin’s inner circle.
But with D-Day fast approaching, Ukrainian officials fear more intense missile and artillery bombardment and renewed attacks as Moscow seeks symbolic victories.
Ukraine’s rescue service said a missile hit a technical college in Kostyantinivka in the eastern Donetsk region, starting a fire and killing at least two people.
Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kirilenko said there had been “intense bombing” along the front line. Strikes were also reported in northern Ukraine near the city of Kharkiv and in the southern city of Mykolaiv, a major Russian target.
“war of attrition”
As CBS News foreign affairs correspondent and “Facing the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan reported,It began in Ukraine, where Russian forces are making a grinding push using heavy artillery in the south and east of the country and deep strikes in the west toward Ukraine in an attempt to disrupt logistical supply lines used by the West. A European official in Washington told reporters that predicting when the Russian offensive will end is very complicated.
In the long term, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal is to capture the broader, where Ukrainians and Russians have been fighting since 2014, as well as the land bridge linking mainland Ukraine to Russia-occupied Crimea. However, the European official said that Russian forces – pushing from the east, south and from the North Izyum region in eastern Ukraine, using heavy artillery bombardment – have not yet made much progress on the ground.
British Defense Intelligence said: “The conflict in Ukraine is taking a heavy toll on some of Russia’s most capable units and most advanced capabilities.”
“It will take a long time and significant costs for Russia to reconfigure its armed forces in the wake of this conflict,” she said, warning that sanctions on advanced components would make it difficult for Russia to rearm.
Meanwhile, the West is ramping up arms shipments to Ukraine’s defenders.
US President Joe Biden on Friday announced another $150 million package of military aid, including anti-artillery radars used to detect the source of enemy fire.
This brings the total value of US weapons sent to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion to $3.8 billion.
Biden had urged Congress to approve another $33 billion package, including $20 billion in military aid, “to bolster Ukraine on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.”
G7 leaders, including Biden, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are scheduled to meet via video conference on Sunday to discuss Western support for Kiev.
“There will be no going back to the past”
On Friday, Zelensky said “diplomatic options” were also underway to rescue Ukrainian soldiers from steel plants in Mariupol, while evacuations of civilians continued.
The Russian Defense Ministry said 50 people were evacuated from the site, including 11 children.
She added that they had been handed over to the United Nations and the Red Cross, which are assisting in the operation, and that the “humanitarian operation” would continue on Saturday.
About 200 civilians, including children, are believed to be trapped in tunnels and bunkers below Azovstal, along with Ukrainian soldiers who have taken their last stand.
Russia announced a daytime ceasefire at the station for three days, starting on Thursday, but the Ukrainian military said Russia’s “offensive operations” continued by land and air.
The Ukrainian Azov Battalion, which leads defense in Azovstal, said one Ukrainian fighter was killed and six wounded when Russian forces opened fire during an attempt to evacuate people by car.
Since it failed to capture Kyiv early in the war, Russia has refocused its offensive on southern and eastern Ukraine.
Full control of Mariupol would allow Moscow to create a land bridge between Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, and pro-Russian breakaway regions in the east.
In those areas, the separatists said they removed the Ukrainian and English traffic signs for Mariupol and replaced them with Russian.
Denis Pushlin, head of the breakaway Donetsk region, said locals wanted to see evidence that “Russia is back here forever.”
In neighboring Lugansk, Ukrainian officials said on Friday that Russian forces had nearly encircled Severodonetsk – the easternmost city still under Kyiv’s control – and were trying to storm it.
Kherson in the south is still the only significant city that Russia has been able to capture since the start of the war.
A senior Russian parliament official who visited the city on Friday confirmed that Russia would remain in southern Ukraine “forever”.
“There should be no doubt about this,” Andrei Turchak said. “There will be no going back to the past.”
As European countries sought to clamp down on Russian assets abroad, Italian authorities seized a huge yacht amid speculation that it might belong to the Russian president.
Scheherazade is estimated to be worth about $700 million. The financial police were able to “establish important economic and trade links” between the owner and “prominent figures of the Russian government”.
Researchers at the Russian opposition’s Anti-Corruption Foundation Alexei Navalny have linked the yacht to Putin.
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