Ukraine said Monday that Russian attacks had killed five more civilians and wounded another 13 in the last 24 hours, but the two sides remained deadlocked in tough fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Authorities said the casualties included a woman who was killed and three others who were wounded in Russian attacks on the northeast city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. Russian forces had seized much of the Kharkiv region early in the nearly yearlong war, but Ukrainian counteroffensives mostly regained control last August.
Ukraine said Russian strikes in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson killed three people Sunday and injured six. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that residential buildings, a hospital, a school, a bus station, a post office and a bank were also damaged by the shelling.
Russian strikes in the Southern Ukrainian city of Kherson killed three people Sunday and injured six.
The strike prompted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, once again, to express the need for allies to speed up their deliveries of promised weapons.
“We have to make time our weapon,” the president said in his daily address. “We must … speed up the supply and opening of new necessary weaponry options for Ukraine.”
Germany and the U.S. last week both promised to send tanks to Ukraine but the possibility of allied governments sending other advanced military support to the Kyiv government is uncertain.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called Monday for South Korea to send direct military support to Ukraine. The Seoul government is a growing arms exporter and has a well-equipped, U.S.-backed military.
Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hinted Monday at the prospect of more upcoming pledges of military support for Ukraine, saying that "any activity aimed at strengthening Ukraine's defense powers is under consultation with our NATO partners."
But German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, after hesitating for weeks over sending Germany's Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, appears opposed to sending fighter aircraft.
Scholz, who is currently on a trip to South America, said he regretted the emergence of the discussion on aircraft.
He said Saturday during a stop in Chile that a serious debate is necessary and not a "competition to outdo each other … in which perhaps domestic political motives are in the foreground rather than support for Ukraine."
Russia and Ukraine made conflicting claims Sunday on who controls the territory near Blahodatne in the eastern part of the Donetsk region.
Russia’s Wagner mercenary military group claimed it took control of the village, while Ukraine’s military said its troops had repelled the attack.
“Units of Ukraine’s Defense Forces repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of ... Blahodatne ... in the Donetsk region,” the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in its daily morning report, referring to fighting Saturday.
Ukraine said its forces also repelled Russian attacks near 13 other settlements in the Donetsk region.
But the Wagner Group, designated by the United States as a transnational criminal organization, said on the Telegram messaging app Saturday that its units had taken control of Blahodatne.
The French news agency, AFP, reported there was no immediate confirmation from Russia’s defense ministry.
With warfare intensifying in the Donetsk region, the exact battleline has been unclear, especially around the town of Bakhmut, where heavy fighting has been occurring in recent weeks. The Wagner Group has made premature success claims before.
Ukraine has said that Russia has not taken over Bakhmut, but that the situation along the front line there has been growing difficult. Zelenskyy said Friday that it was acute.
On Monday, the British Defense Ministry reported in its intelligence update on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine that Russia is “likely keeping open” an option for partial mobilization to increase its troops, after stories emerged that Russian border guards have stopped Kyrgyz migrant workers who hold dual passports from leaving the country because their names are on mobilization lists.
Russia is “highly likely” continuing to look for ways to make sure it has the personnel it needs to continue to execute its major offenses in Ukraine, the British ministry said.
Ukraine’s National Security Council chief, Oleksiy Danilov, told RFE/RL that Moscow was preparing for a new offensive on February 24, the anniversary of the Russian invasion.
“Now they are preparing for maximum activation ... and they believe that by the anniversary they should have some achievements,” Danilov said. “There is no secret that they are preparing for a new wave by February 24, as they themselves say.” (KB/VOA)