Among the 1,000 Ukrainian troops are many seriously injured fighters still hiding in the sprawling Azovstal steel plant, the latest major heist in the port city of Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Tuesday.
About 100 civilians are also still trapped in the maze of bunkers and tunnels, she said.
“Hundreds are injured,” Vereshchuk told AFP. “There are people with serious injuries who need to be evacuated urgently. The situation is getting worse every day.”
Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Donetsk’s regional military administration, said Russian bombings have targeted the complex dozens of times over the past day.
“It’s easier to tell when the shelling isn’t happening than when it’s happening,” he said. “Aviation and artillery are almost constantly at work there.”
Russian forces have overwhelmed most of the disputed city, which was home to 450,000 people before the war. Local officials say fewer than 100,000 remain, but Russia has struggled to complete a takeover that would deprive Ukraine of an important port, while giving Russia a land corridor to the Crimean peninsula and a staging area to deploy troops elsewhere. to send to the country.
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►Finland and Sweden, two non-aligned European countries near Russia — Finland shares a border — are expected to announce this week whether they will pursue NATO membership.
►About 14 million Ukrainians had been displaced from their homes by the end of April, including more than 5.9 million who had left the country, the United Nations said.
►Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the shipment of a multimillion-dollar aid package to Odessa, including medical supplies and body armor. Odessa, the subject of increasing Russian shelling, is a sister city of Baltimore.
►At least 44 bodies of civilians were found under the rubble of a destroyed residential building in Izium, near Kharkiv, said Oleh Synehubov, head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration.
►The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to replace Russia with the Czech Republic on the 47-member Human Rights Council of the world organization. Russia has been suspended over allegations of human rights abuses by its soldiers in Ukraine.
Pentagon official: Russian attack on Donbas weeks behind schedule
Russia appears to be at least two weeks behind schedule in its bid to wrest the eastern Donbas region from Ukrainian forces, a senior defense ministry official said Tuesday. It remains unclear what Russian President Vladimir Putin’s overall strategy is for Ukraine, said the official, who is not authorized to speak publicly on intelligence assessments.
Putin may be trying to conquer eastern Ukraine, where separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014, or he may have a broader goal of controlling more of the country. But Putin has not achieved the desired success, the official said.
On Capitol Hill Tuesday, Defense Intelligence Agency director, Army Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, told the Senate Armed Forces Committee that he expects a prolonged stalemate in Ukraine under the current circumstances.
Berrier also said Ukrainian troops killed eight to 10 Russian generals.
Russian fighter jets busy – but not over Ukraine
The activity of Russian warplanes has increased in recent days, including more than 300 missions flown in the past 24 hours, a Pentagon official said. However, the airspace over Ukraine is still under dispute, said the official, who is not authorized to speak publicly about intelligence assessments.
Many of the airstrikes by Russian pilots have been carried out in Russian airspace, an indication that they fear Ukrainian air defenses, the official said. The attacks target the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and the south, including the disputed city of Mariopul. The Russians do not conduct routine aerial patrols over Ukraine, the official said.
Russia targets Odessa, disrupting arms supplies and grain exports
Russia appears to be trying to disrupt supply lines and Western arms supplies essential to Ukraine’s defenses with an intensified bombardment of the southern port city of Odessa, Ukrainian officials said Tuesday.
One person was killed and five were injured when Russian missiles hit a shopping center and warehouse on Monday, officials said. Around that time, the shelling forced Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and European Council President Charles Michel to move their meeting in Odessa to a bomb shelter.
The Black Sea city, Ukraine’s largest port, is a major gateway for grain shipments, and the blockade by Russia is already a threat to global food supplies. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy pointed out that the Russian blockade of ports on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov does not allow Ukraine to export vital products.
“If we can’t export wheat, barley, sunflower and sunflower oil, it means that people in North Africa and Asia will be out of food and prices will go up,” Zelenskyy said. “Later, there may be a new chaos and a new migration crisis.”
Americans support Biden’s approach to war in Ukraine, but many are concerned about confrontation with Russia
More Americans continue to approve than disapprove of the Biden administration’s response to the war in Ukraine, according to a new survey, but half of them are at least deeply concerned that the US will end up at war with Russia.
The poll of more than 5,000 adults conducted by the Pew Research Center from April 25 to May 1, shows support for the government’s position has declined slightly from 47% in March to 45% in May, but the opposition rose. with a larger number, from 39% to 34%. The approval rate of respondents who identified or leaned as Republicans rose from 21% to 26%.
Those opinions could have been at least partially influenced by the revelation in early April of Russian atrocities in the city of Bucha, outside Kiev.
Regardless, Americans are clearly concerned about the possibility that US aid to Ukraine could lead to a direct confrontation with Russia: 81% said they were at least somewhat concerned, and 50% said they were very or extremely concerned.
Ukraine cuts off some gas going from Russia to Europe
The Ukrainian gas transport company says it will shut down nearly a third of the Russian gas transported through the country en route to much of Europe “as a result of the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine”. The company said it has facilities in territory temporarily controlled by Russian forces and thus unable to conduct operational and technological control.
“These actions under the current transit contract are force majeure situations that make it impossible to fulfill obligations,” the company said. “Force majeure” is essentially an escape clause in contracts that allows for the so-called “force majeure”.
The company said it would offer Russia the chance to try to divert the gas through another Ukrainian government passageway.
Biden concerned Putin has ‘no way out’ from war
Russian President Vladimir Putin has no exit strategy for the war in Ukraine — and that is a problem for the West, President Joe Biden says.
Speaking at a political fundraising campaign outside Washington on Monday, Biden said Putin had mistakenly believed the invasion of Ukraine would break up NATO and weaken the European Union, according to a Reuters report.
Eight years ago, Russia stormed into Crimea with little international resistance. But much of the Western world rallied behind Ukraine when Moscow sent troops into the heart of the country in February, within a few miles of the capital Kiev. Russian troops reportedly suffered heavy casualties while gaining limited ground throughout Ukraine.
Biden said Putin is a very calculating man who “has no way out now, and I’m trying to figure out what we can do about that.”
Biden choice for ambassador to Ukraine faces hearing
President Joe Biden’s candidate to become US ambassador to Ukraine told senators on Tuesday that she would not underestimate the task ahead if confirmed.
“I would view the challenge as enormous,” Bridget Brink, an experienced foreign service officer, said during her hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senators from both parties praised Brink’s background and called it urgent to get her to work.
“It’s absolutely critical that we get someone there,” said R-Ohio Senator Rob Portman.
† Deirdre Shesgreen and Maureen Groppe
House votes on bill that sends extra billions to Ukraine
The House of Representatives is set to vote Tuesday on sending billions of additional aid to Ukraine, the day after President Joe Biden admitted he would separate his $33 billion emergency request for Ukraine from the billions he seeks in pandemic financing. Congressional Democrats are pushing to increase Biden’s $33 billion in aid to nearly $40 billion.
There is historic bipartisan support for helping Ukraine, but Republicans have complained that Biden is seeking too much additional funding for a pandemic. Biden warned that the Ukrainian funding must be approved in about 10 days to avoid delays, and called on lawmakers to “get it on my desk in the next few days”.
Russia’s Victory Day ends without an escalation of the war, as some expected
Some analysts and Western officials are bracing for Russian President Vladimir Putin to step up attacks or declare victory in Ukraine’s war on Victory Day, the country’s biggest national holiday.
But Putin refrained from doing so during his speech in Moscow’s Red Square on Monday, instead sticking to the phrase he has been using since February 24 to describe the Russian invasion: “special military operation”. He declared no win, and there was no discernible increase in attacks on Monday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also celebrated Victory Day on Monday, promising that Ukraine will soon have two Victory Days: one celebrating the defeat of Nazism in Europe and the other celebrating Ukraine’s victory over Russia.
Contributions: The Associated Press