Lauren Moye, FISM News
Ukraine continues to defend territory from Russian invaders in the eastern and southern parts of the country. A missile strike on a residential area in the Donbas has left at least ten dead. Meanwhile, global diplomatic relationships experience friction amid ongoing discussions involving the two nations.
A Russian-fired missile struck Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, yesterday. However, the majority of battles remain focused southeast of Kharkiv in both the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Together, these two areas comprise the eastern industrial region of Ukraine otherwise known as the Donbas.
The region has been partially controlled by Russian-backed separatists for years. Moscow has identified “liberating” the regions as a priority in their “special military operation” launched on Feb. 24.
Over the weekend, local governors reported that Russia shelled parts of both regions in an offensive to capture the territory. While Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Telegram that invaders were “firing along the entire front line,” other officials reported missile strikes past the front line in what Kyiv stated were purposeful attacks on civilian residential areas.
Gaidai said that Moscow’s troops were gathered around Bilohorivka, a village around 30 miles east of Sloviansk. From this location, Russia initiated artillery strikes on nearby settlements and staged air strikes.
One Russian Uragan rocket struck a five-story apartment building in Chasiv Yar, a town in the Donetsk region. Emergency service responders reported earlier today that the death toll is now at 10. Region Governor Pavlo Kryrylenko stated on the Telegram messaging app that up to 34 civilians could still be trapped.
Ukraine’s Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak said on Telegram that the strike was “another terrorist attack.” He stated that Russia should receive a “state sponsor of terrorism” label.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy agreed that the Chasiv Yar strike was an intentional attack on civilians. “It fired precisely at the resident sector,” he stated. “Absolutely deliberately, purposefully, at ordinary houses and civilian objects.”
Moscow denies targeting civilians. In a turnaround, Russia’s Tass news agency claimed that the residential district of the city of Donetsk was shelled by Ukraine yesterday based on reports from pro-Russian separatists.
The Russian defense ministry said today that their forces had struck two army hangers in the Donetsk region containing U.S.-produced M777 howitzers.
Zelenskyy dismissed several senior ambassadors abroad, including Andriy Melnyk who serves in Germany. Leaders from Kyiv and Berlin have been in a spat with each other this week over a gas turbine that supplies gas from Russia to European nations.
The turbine, made in Germany, has been undergoing maintenance in Canada. Kyiv stated returning the turbine to Russian gas giant Gazprom would violate sanctions against Moscow. However, Berlin wants to see the turbine returned.
Yesterday, Canada announced the turbine would go back to Gazprom.
Zelenskyy said the dismissal of ambassadors was a “normal diplomatic practice.” He intends to appoint new envoys to Germany, India, the Czech Republic, Norway, and Hungary.
After friction between Russian G20 envoy Sergei Lavrov and western representatives, U.S. Secretary State Antony Blinken reported engaging in an in-depth discussion with his Chinese counterpart.
Beijing’s foreign ministry official Wang Yi said that he had discussed “the Ukraine issue” as part of his five-hour conversation with Blinken, as well as concerns that the U.S. “is suffering from an increasingly serious bout of ‘Chinaphobia’.”
Beijing and Moscow have a “no limits” partnership announced shortly before Russia attacked Ukraine. However, U.S. officials do not believe China has provided military equipment or evaded Western sanctions on the nation.
This weekend, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that sanctions against his country risked “catastrophic” energy price raises in what some view as an attempt to pressure Western nations into removing the sanctions. Kyiv has called for more sanctions, instead.
“Russians desperately try to lift those sanctions which proves that they do hurt them. Therefore, sanctions must be stepped up until Putin drops his aggressive plan,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said yesterday.