The United States and its allies agreed on Tuesday to impose more sanctions on Moscow as Russia continued its new offensive targeting eastern Ukraine in the latest phase of the bloody invasion.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said “high-precision air-based missiles” hit 13 Ukrainian positions in parts of Donbas while other airstrikes “hit 60 military assets”, including in towns near the eastern front line.
Ukraine’s armed forces said fighting had intensified through the east after President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Russia had launched the much-anticipated offensive in Ukraine’s industrial heartland.
“The Russian occupiers have intensified offensive operations along the entire line of contact,” Ukraine’s armed forces said in a report released early Tuesday.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, acknowledged that the new offensive was “another phase of the operation”, in an interview with India Today media outlet.
Following the new pressure, the United States and the European Union agreed on the need to “increase Moscow’s international isolation”, during a virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and European leaders.
“We will further intensify our sanctions against Russia and increase financial and security assistance to Ukraine,” Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, wrote on Twitter.
Separately, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the deaths of thousands of Ukrainian civilians “a war crime” for which Russian President Vladimir is responsible.
– ‘Bombarded everywhere’ –
Prior to Russia’s march, Ukrainian authorities encouraged people in Donbas to flee west, even as officials called off evacuations of frontline cities for a third consecutive day due to ongoing fighting.
In the Donbas village of Novodruzhesk, Nadya, 65, said “we are being bombed everywhere”.
“It’s a miracle we’re still alive,” she said as her voice trembled.
“We have been lying on the ground waiting. We have been sleeping in the basement since February 24.”
Control of Donbas and the beleagured southern port of Mariupol will enable Moscow to create a southern corridor to the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, and Ukraine a large part of its coastline and a major source of income deprived.
Russia continued its relentless struggle to capture Mariupol, while Moscow issued a new call to the city’s defenders to surrender and announced the opening of a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian troops who agreed to lay down their arms. .
During an interview broadcast on CNN on Tuesday, Pavlo Kyrylenko – who oversees the Donetsk region’s military administration – said Mariupol remained controversial.
“The Ukrainian flag is flying over the city,” Kyrylenko said.
Putin said he launched the so-called military operation in Ukraine on February 24 to save Russian-speakers in Ukraine from a “genocide” carried out by a “neo-Nazi” regime.
However, organizers of a ceremony celebrating the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Mauthausen in Austria said on Tuesday that the ambassadors of Russia and Belarus had been asked not to attend, as their presence was against the wishes of the surviving prisoners. and their faith would be in peace and liberty.
– ‘Hold’ –
While much of the focus remained in eastern Ukraine, Moscow also targeted the country’s west with airstrikes, killing at least seven people in the city of Lviv near the Polish border on Monday.
Lviv has been largely spared bombing since Russia invaded, and the city and its environs have become a haven for those seeking safety from the war zone.
The regional governor of the eastern Lugansk region, Sergiy Gaiday, said Ukrainian forces were still holding out amid heavy fighting.
“We have positional battles in the cities of Rubizhne and Popasna. However, the enemy can do nothing. They are losing people and equipment there,” Gaiday said.
“Our guys are shooting down drones there. Shooting planes on the border of the Lugansk and Kharkiv regions, so they are stuck,” he added.
Later Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced Russia’s continued offensive while issuing calls for a four-day ceasefire to celebrate Orthodox Holy Week.
“Instead of celebrating new life, this Easter coincides with a Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine,” Guterres told reporters.
“The intense concentration of forces and firepower inevitably makes this fight more violent, bloody and destructive,” he said, calling for a “humanitarian break” from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday, April 24.
“Hundreds of thousands of lives hang in the balance.”
While fighting raged, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday published a grim forecast for the warring nations, while also predicting that the conflict would hit the world economy – which would hit the poorest nations the hardest.
The report predicted that Ukraine would suffer a 35 percent collapse of its economy this year, while Russia’s GDP would fall 8.5 percent – more than 11 points below pre-war expectations.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by techlives staff and is being published from a syndicated stream.)