Russia targeted offensive operations in eastern Ukraine, UK says
Russia is focusing its efforts on advancing offensive operations in eastern Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defense said Thursday.
in a information update it said Russian airstrikes continued along the Donbas control line to the east, adding that attacks in the interior were likely intended to “reduce the Ukrainian military’s ability to supply supplies” and put pressure on the government.
However, despite strengthening their efforts in Donbas, Russian forces are likely to continue to face supply shortages and morale problems, it said.
More than 1,000 explosives neutralized around Kiev, authorities say
More than 1,000 explosives have been found and neutralized after a round of inspections in the regions around Kiev, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said Thursday.
A Telegram report said the explosives were defused on Wednesday after an inspection of nearly 18 hectares of land around Kiev, including the city of Bucha, where Ukraine accused Russia of committing a massacre.
So far, nearly 7,000 explosives have been identified and neutralized with 45 hectares of land examined, it said. NBC News was unable to independently verify those numbers.
Australia imposes sanctions on 67 Russians over war in Ukraine
The Australian government has announced financial sanctions and travel bans on an additional 67 Russians in response to Moscow’s invasion of Moscow.
The latest round of sanctions comes after the country’s government said there was evidence of war crimes committed by Russia in the city of Bucha and other towns around the capital Kiev.
“Australia condemns these atrocities in the strongest possible terms,” said a government statement released Thursday.
Among them are prominent Russian military official Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Grigorenko, Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov, Deputy Speaker of the Russian State Duma, Aleksander Babakov and other senior Russian government officials.
The latest additions make up nearly 600 people and entities that the Australian government has sanctioned so far in connection with the war in Ukraine.
Three killed in artillery shelling in Kharkiv, official says
Three people have died after multiple artillery shelling destroyed houses in Kharkov, Oleh Syniehubov, the head of Kharkov’s regional council, said Thursday.
In a Telegram post, he said: “During the day, the enemy carried out 48 attacks with MLRS, artillery and mortars,” which destroyed civilian infrastructure. “Three artillery shelling in Balakliya killed three people and destroyed many houses,” he said. NBC News was unable to independently verify the claim.
Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians in its invasion of Ukraine.
Syniehubov said Russian troops flanked the city from the east near the Izyum and Kupyansk regions, using Ukraine’s rail network. He said more than 15,000 people had already fled Lozova and Barvinkove in southern Kharkov.
Ten evacuation corridors open in Ukraine
Ten evacuations are planned for Thursday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced on Telegram.
The planned corridors will include five evacuation routes in Luhansk, as well as transport routes from Mariupol using private vehicles, she said. Additional corridors from Melitopol and Berdyansk will be facilitated by buses, Vereshchuk said.
The evacuation from Mariupol was a huge challenge with safe passageways that were repeatedly attacked and blocked, Ukrainian officials said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday it was able to lead a convoy of buses and private cars carrying more than 500 people to Zaporizhzhya after days of difficulties reaching the besieged port city to facilitate evacuations.
Austria expels four Russian diplomats
Austria is expelling four Russian diplomats for conduct incompatible with their diplomatic status, a spokeswoman for the foreign minister said Thursday, joining a group of EU countries that have taken similar action this week.
Unlike those other EU countries, including France, Italy and Germany, Alexander Schallenberg’s spokeswoman did not say the move was the result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The three diplomats working at the Russian embassy and one in Salzburg must leave Austria by Tuesday, she said.
“The (four) individuals have acted in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status,” the spokeswoman said in a brief statement without elaborating.
Sweden, Denmark, Greece and Romania are also among the EU countries that this week announced they would expel Russian diplomats over the war in Ukraine. The concerted actions came shortly after images of what appeared to be civilian bodies scattered on the streets of the Ukrainian city of Bucha sparked international outrage.
Olympic and world champion Ruta Meilutyte swims in front of the Russian embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Wednesday, across a pond colored red to signify blood.
Ukrainian foreign minister attends NATO summit
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba joined NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Thursday for a summit on the response to the Russian invasion.
Before the talks, he spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: “My agenda is very simple. There are only three items on it: they are weapons, weapons and weapons.”
“I think the deal the Ukrainians are offering is fair: you give us weapons, we sacrifice our lives and the war is controlled by Ukraine. This is it,” he said.
He went on to say that Ukraine will continue to urge the West to impose an oil and gas embargo on Russia, along with other measures.