Ukraine says Russia is bombing Donbass and has failed to achieve the goals

  • Russia continues its offensive in eastern Ukraine
  • Ukraine says the Russians “did not succeed” in achieving the goals
  • Lavrov: Lifting sanctions is part of peace talks
  • US Congress passes Ukraine aid and weapons package soon

Kyiv (Reuters) – The Ukrainian military said Russian forces bombed eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region on Saturday but failed to seize three targeted areas, while Moscow said Western sanctions against Russia and arms shipments to Ukraine were hampering peace negotiations.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a daily update that the Russians were trying to seize the Lyman regions of Donetsk, Severodonetsk and Popasna in Luhansk. “It didn’t work – the fight continues,” she said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in comments published in the early hours of Saturday morning, said that lifting Western sanctions on Russia is part of the peace talks, which he said are difficult but continuing daily via a video link. Read more

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has insisted, since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, that sanctions need to be tightened and cannot be part of the negotiations. On Friday, he said there was a high risk the talks could end over what he called “the Russian playbook on killing people”.

Ukraine accuses Russian forces of committing atrocities in previously occupied areas near the capital, Kyiv. Moscow denies these allegations.

Lavrov said that if the United States and other NATO countries were really interested in resolving the Ukraine crisis, they should stop sending weapons to Kyiv. Read more

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In Washington, US President Joe Biden’s proposed $33 billion aid package for Ukraine, including $20 billion for weapons, won bipartisan support. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she hopes Congress will approve the package as quickly as possible. Read more

After failing to capture Kyiv in a nine-week offensive that reduced cities to rubble, killed thousands and forced 5 million Ukrainians to flee abroad, Russia is now focusing on eastern and southern Ukraine.

Moscow hopes to gain full control of the eastern Donbass region consisting of Luhansk and Donetsk, parts of which were already under the control of Russian-backed separatists before the invasion.

On Saturday, Moscow said its artillery units had bombed 389 Ukrainian targets overnight.

Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk, told Ukrainian public television that the Russians were bombing the whole area, “but they cannot bypass our defence.” He said that the evacuation of civilians will continue despite the difficult situation.

Gidayi said two schools and 20 homes were destroyed in Russian attacks on Friday in Rubezhny and Popasna, both in Luhansk.

Mykola Khanatov, head of the military department in Popasna, said Russian forces fired on two buses sent to evacuate civilians from the city on Friday, but there was no word from the drivers. He did not say how many people were on the buses.

There were also reports of attacks on places outside Donbass.

Mykola Lukashuk, head of the Dnipro Regional Council, said that Russian forces bombed the outskirts of Velika Kostromka in the Kryvyi Rih region. A village near the Zaporizhzhya region was also bombed. Unverified social media posts reported the bombing of the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

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Reuters was not able to independently verify reports from either side about what is happening on the ground.

The Ukrainian Border Guard Service posted a video on its Facebook page showing about 16 tired soldiers in battle uniforms, most in helmets and carrying rifles, singing the national anthem in a small room downstairs. One of them was a woman holding a dog.

The service said the fighters were border guards helping to defend steelworks at Azovstal, the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces holding out against Russian invaders in the strategic port city of Mariupol on the Sea of ‚Äč‚ÄčAzov.

Reuters was unable to verify the video.

Moscow describes the war as a “special military operation” to disarm and “discredit” Ukraine, defend Russian speakers from persecution, and prevent the United States from using the country to threaten Russia.

Ukraine rejects Putin’s allegations of persecution and says it is fighting an unjustified land grab to completely seize Donetsk and Luhansk, which make up the Donbass region.

Western officials said the number of casualties in Russia was lower after the scale of its invasion narrowed, but those numbers were still “very high”.

On Saturday, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said: “There are still shortcomings in Russian tactical coordination.” It said in a daily bulletin that Russia was forced to integrate and redeploy depleted and disparate units from the failed advance into northeastern Ukraine. Read more

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Additional coverage by Reuters journalists. composed by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Catherine Evans

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Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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