Russia’s top diplomat has warned Ukraine against the outbreak of World War III and said the threat of nuclear conflict ‘should not be underestimated’ as his country launches attacks against railway and oil installations far from the front lines of Moscow’s new eastern offensive.
Meanwhile, the British Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that Russian forces had taken the Ukrainian town of Kreminna in the Lukansk region after days of street-to-street fighting.
“The town of Kreminna is reported to have fallen and heavy fighting is reported south of Izium as Russian forces attempt to advance towards the towns of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk from the north and east,” the British military said in a statement. a tweet. He did not say how he knew the city, 575 kilometers southeast of the Ukrainian capital, kyiv, had fallen. The Ukrainian government did not immediately comment.
Ukraine’s general staff said Russian forces were shelling Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, as they struggled to take full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which include Donbass in the industrial heartland of the country. Ukraine, and establish a land corridor to Crimea.
In the area of Velyka Oleksandrivka, a village in the largely Russian-controlled Kherson region, Ukrainian forces destroyed an ammunition depot and “eliminated” more than 70 Russian soldiers, the General Staff said.
Luhansk region governor Serhiy Haidai said on the Telegram messaging app that the Russians had shelled civilians 17 times in the past 24 hours, with the towns of Popasna, Lysychansk and Girske suffering the most.
Four people died and nine others were injured in the Russian bombardment of the Donetsk region on Monday, its governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram. He added that a nine-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were among those killed.
American weaponry makes the difference
The United States has sent more weapons to Ukraine and said help from Western allies is making a difference in the two-month-old war.
“Russia is failing. Ukraine is succeeding,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday after he and the US Secretary of Defense boldly traveled to Kyiv to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Blinken said Washington had approved a US$165 million ammunition sale — non-US ammunition, mostly if not entirely for Soviet-era Ukrainian weapons — and would also provide more than US$300 million in funding to purchase. more supplies.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin went further, saying that the United States wants to see Ukraine remain a sovereign and democratic country, but also wants “to see Russia weakened to the point where it cannot make things like invading Ukraine”.
Austin’s remarks appeared to represent a shift in US strategic goals, as Washington had previously said the goal of US military aid was to help Ukraine win and defend Ukraine’s neighbors from the war. NATO against Russian threats.
In an apparent response to Austin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia had “the feeling that the West wants Ukraine to keep fighting and, in their view, exhausting, exhausting the Russian army and the Russian military-industrial war complex. It’s an illusion.”
Weapons supplied by Western countries “will be a legitimate target,” Lavrov said, noting that Russian forces were targeting weapons warehouses in western Ukraine.
Lavrov accused Ukrainian leaders of provoking Russia by asking NATO to get involved in the conflict. NATO forces are “pouring oil on the fire,” Lavrov said, according to a transcript posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry website.
Lavrov warns of nuclear risks
“Everyone is reciting incantations that under no circumstances can we allow World War III,” he said in an interview with Russian television.
Lavrov said he wouldn’t want to see the risks of a nuclear confrontation “artificially inflated now, when the risks are quite significant.”
“The danger is serious,” he said. “It’s real. It shouldn’t be underestimated.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter that Lavrov’s comments underscore Ukraine’s need for Western help: “Russia is losing its last hope to dissuade the world from supporting Ukraine. Ukraine.”
When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, its apparent objective was to seize the capital, Kyiv. But the Ukrainians, aided by Western weapons, forced President Vladimir Putin’s troops to retreat.
Moscow now says its aim is to take Donbass, the predominantly Russian-speaking industrial region of eastern Ukraine. On Monday, however, Russia focused its firepower elsewhere, with missiles and warplanes striking far behind the front lines in an attempt to thwart Ukrainian supply efforts.
Five railway stations in central and western Ukraine were hit and one worker was killed, said Oleksandr Kamyshin, director of Ukrainian National Railways. The bombardment included a missile attack near Lviv, the western city near the Polish border that has been swelled by Ukrainians fleeing violence elsewhere.
Ukrainian authorities said at least five people were killed by Russian strikes in the central Vynnytsia region.
Russia also destroyed an oil refinery and fuel depots in Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General said. said Igor Konashenkov. In total, Russian warplanes destroyed 56 Ukrainian targets, he said.
Philip Breedlove, a retired US general who served as NATO’s commander-in-chief from 2013 to 2016, said the strikes on fuel depots were aimed at depleting Ukraine’s key war resources. The strikes on railroad targets were aimed both at disrupting supply lines and intimidating people trying to use the railroads to flee the fighting, he said.
Phillips P. O’Brien, a professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said war is settling into a campaign of losses and incremental gains on the battlefield.
“Both sides are getting weaker every day,” he said.
In Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova next to the Ukrainian border, several explosions believed to be caused by rocket-propelled grenades hit the territory’s State Security Ministry. There were no immediate claims of liability or reports of injuries. Transnistria is a strip of land with around 470,000 people. About 1,500 Russian soldiers are based there.
The Moldovan Foreign Ministry said that “the purpose of today’s incident is to create pretexts to strain the security situation in the Transnistria region”. The United States has said that Russia may launch “false flag” attacks against its own side to create a pretext to invade other nations.
Last week, Rustam Minnekayev, a Russian military commander, said the Kremlin wanted full control of southern Ukraine, to pave the way for Transnistria.
Around 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers holed up in a steelworks in Mariupol, a strategic southern port city, pinned down Russian forces, apparently preventing them from joining the offensive elsewhere in Donbass. Over the weekend, Russian forces launched new airstrikes on the Azovstal factory in an attempt to dislodge resisters.
Some 1,000 civilians are also said to have taken refuge in the steelworks.
Another mass grave identified near Mariupol
The city council and mayor of Mariupol said a new mass grave had been identified about 10 kilometers north of the city. Mayor Vadym Boychenko said authorities were trying to estimate the number of casualties. It was at least the third new mass grave discovered in Russian-controlled areas near Mariupol last week.
Mariupol has been ravaged by shelling and heavy street fighting over the past two months. Capturing the city by Russia would deprive Ukraine of a vital port and give Moscow a land corridor to the Crimean peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
In his nightly video address, Zelensky said Ukraine is maintaining its resistance to “make the occupiers’ stay on our land even more intolerable” while Russia is draining its resources.
Britain said it believed 15,000 Russian troops had been killed in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said 25% of Russian combat units sent to Ukraine “have been rendered non-combat effective”.
Ukrainian officials said around 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed by mid-April.