Live Updates | Ukraine: the Russian offensive continues in the East

KYIV, Ukraine – The Ukrainian army general staff said Russian forces are continuing their “offensive operations” in eastern Ukraine with the aim of defeating Ukrainian forces, establishing full control over the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and to secure “a land route between these territories and occupied Crimea.

In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian forces have repelled eight Russian attacks in the two regions, destroying nine tanks, 18 armored units and 13 vehicles, one tanker and three artillery systems, the General Staff said Saturday morning on his Facebook page.

Russian forces continue to partially blockade and shell Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, and are active in the Izyum region, according to the update.

In the strategic port city of Mariupol, Russian troops “continue to block” Ukrainian units in the area of ​​the Azovstal steelworks, the last remaining stronghold, and “launch airstrikes on the city, including with the use of long-range aircraft”. the post said, adding that an engineering unit has arrived in Mariupol in order to clear the port infrastructure.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR:

— Possible mass graves near Mariupol shown in satellite images

— EXPLAINER: why the battle for the Mariupol steel plant matters

– EXPLAINER: why Washington is strengthening heavy weapons for Ukraine

– UN rights chief sees ‘horror story’ of Ukraine violations

— The United States will welcome Ukrainian refugees but will no longer go through Mexico

– Follow all AP stories about Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

KYIV, Ukraine — Another mass grave has been discovered outside Mariupol, the city council and an adviser to the mayor said Friday.

The city council released a satellite photo provided by Planet Labs showing what it said was a 45-meter (147.64ft) by 25-meter (82.02ft) mass grave that could hold the bodies of at least 1,000 inhabitants of Mariupol.

He said the newly reported mass grave is outside the village of Vynohradne, east of Mariupol.

Earlier this week, satellite photos from Maxar Technologies revealed what appeared to be rows upon rows of more than 200 freshly dug mass graves in the town of Manhush, located west of Mariupol.

The discovery of mass graves has led to accusations that the Russians are trying to cover up the massacre of civilians in the city.

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KYIV, Ukraine – At least three civilians died and seven others were injured in shelling in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Friday as Russian forces continue to push into the industrial east of the country, the region’s governor said in a Telegram post.

Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko blamed the deaths of “three more peaceful residents” in a small town and two villages on Russian shelling.

In a separate Telegram post earlier, Kyrylenko said that on Friday afternoon the Russians opened fire on 20 settlements in the region and destroyed or damaged 34 civilian infrastructure.

Also on Friday, the local prosecutor’s office of the northeastern region of Kharkiv said in a Telegram article that the charred bodies of two residents were discovered near the town of Izyum on the same day. The post accused Russian soldiers of torturing residents and burning their bodies.

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will convene defense officials and military leaders from more than 20 countries in Germany next week to discuss the immediate and long-term defense needs of the United States. ‘Ukraine.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday that about 40 countries, including NATO members, were invited and responses are still coming in for Tuesday’s session at Ramstein Air Force Base. He did not identify which nations have agreed to attend, but said more details would be provided in the coming days.

The meeting comes as Russia prepares for what is expected to be a major offensive in eastern Ukraine.

The agenda will include an updated assessment of the Ukrainian battlefield as well as a discussion of efforts to maintain a steady flow of weapons and other military aid, Kirby said. It will include consultations on Ukraine’s defense needs after the war, but should not consider changes in the US military posture in Europe, he said.

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The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that one serviceman died, 27 others were missing and 396 were rescued after a fire on the guided-missile cruiser Moskva last week.

The statement comes a week after the sinking of the ship.

Shortly after the incident, the ministry said the entire crew of the vessel, which was believed by media to be around 500 people, had been rescued. The ministry did not provide an explanation for the conflicting reports.

Ukraine said it hit the cruiser with a missile strike.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s security chief said Friday that the country’s main battles are in Donbass, the industrial heartland of the east, with Russia deploying more and more troops every day.

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told The Associated Press that more than 100,000 Russian troops are currently fighting in Ukraine, including mercenaries from Syria and Libya.

Some of Russia’s elite military units left the strategic Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which was declared “liberated” by the Kremlin on Thursday, and are now moving east to join the fighting there, Danilov said.

Danilov said an overnight helicopter delivery brought weapons to the steel plant in Mariupol, the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces in the city. He urged Ukraine’s western partners to speed up arms delivery to his country.

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