Ukrainians Report Fierce Fighting as Russia Marks Soviet WW2 Victory
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Ukrainians Report Fierce Fighting as Russia Marks Soviet WW2 Victory

Ukrainians Report Fierce Fighting as Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his armed forces they were fighting for their country at a parade of Russian firepower in Moscow while his troops stepped up their 10-week-old assault on Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials said heavy fighting was underway in eastern Ukraine and warned people to take cover from expected missile strikes as Moscow marked the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two.
Four high-precision Onyx missiles fired from the Russian-controlled Crimea peninsula struck the Odesa area in southern Ukraine, the Ukrainian military said later, without giving details.

Putin said Russia’s “special military operation” was a purely defensive and unavoidable measure against plans for a NATO-backed invasion of lands he said were historically Russia’s, including Crimea.

“Russia preventively rebuffed the aggressor,” he said, offering no evidence for what he called open preparations to attack Crimea and Ukraine’s Donbas region.
In 2014, Russian-backed separatists seized parts of Donbas in eastern Ukraine and Russia annexed Crimea from Crimea the same year. Moscow then massed troops around Ukraine last year ahead of an all-out invasion Ukraine and its allies say was entirely unprovoked.

“NATO countries were not going to attack Russia. Ukraine did not plan to attack Crimea,” Ukrainian senior presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said after Putin’s comments.
Russian forces have devastated villages, towns and cities and driven nearly 6 million Ukrainians to flee since they invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said the Russians were now trying to advance in eastern Ukraine, where the situation was “difficult”, but had moved back from the city of Kharkiv, where a local official reported heavy Russian shelling.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed the deaths of dozens of people in the Russian bombing of a school in eastern Ukraine on Saturday.

“As a result of a Russian strike on Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region, about 60 people were killed, civilians, who simply hid at the school, sheltering from shelling,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

About 90 people had taken refuge at the school, the governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region Serhiy Gaidai had said. There was no response from Moscow, which says it does not target civilians.

Gaidai said three more civilians had been killed in Kharkiv and three in the Luhansk region, where he said Russian forces were trying to cut off a route to safety known as the Road of Life. It was not immediately possible to verify the reports.
“Today we do not know what to expect from the enemy, what terrible thing they might do, so please go out onto the street as little as possible, stay in the shelters,” Gaidai said.

In the southern port of Mariupol, which has endured the most destruction of the 10-week war, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment holed up in the Azovstal steel plant pleaded with the international community to help evacuate wounded soldiers.

“We will continue to fight as long as we are alive to repel the Russian occupiers,” Captain Sviatoslav Palamar told an online news conference.


DEFIANCE
Zelenskiy said his country would win against Russia and would not cede any territory.

“There is no invader who can rule over our free people. Sooner or later we will win,” he said in a written address to mark the World War Two victory anniversary.
Putin has repeatedly likened the war in Ukraine – which he casts as a battle against dangerous “Nazi”-inspired nationalists in Ukraine – to the challenge the Soviet Union faced when Adolf Hitler invaded in 1941.

Ukraine and its allies reject the accusation of Nazism and the assertion that Russia is fighting for survival against an aggressive West, saying Putin unleashed an unprovoked war against a sovereign state.
Ahead of the military parade, Russia’s deputy prime minister Yuri Borisov said the country was developing new-generation hypersonic missiles and had enough high-precision missiles and ammunition to fulfil all the tasks assigned to its armed forces.
A senior Pentagon official had said in March that Russia was running out of precision guided munitions.

Moscow has come under increasingly punishing sanctions since its invasion on Feb. 24, with trade heavily impacted and assets seized.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief said the bloc should consider using frozen Russian foreign exchange reserves to help pay for the cost of rebuilding Ukraine after the war. Josep Borrell was speaking to the Financial Times.

‘AIR FEELS DIFFERENT HERE’
In the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, about 230 km (140 miles) northwest of Mariupol, dozens of people who had fled the city and nearby occupied areas waited to register in a car park set up for evacuees.

“There’s lots of people still in Mariupol who want to leave but can’t,” said history teacher Viktoria Andreyeva, 46, who said she had just reached the city after leaving her bombed home in Mariupol with her family in mid-April.

“The air feels different here, free,” she said in a tent where volunteers offered food, basic supplies and toys to the evacuees, many travelling with small children.
Separatists said a total of 408 people were evacuated from Mariupol over the past 24 hours, including 65 children.\

Mariupol is key to Moscow’s efforts to link the Crimean Peninsula and the parts of the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in Donbas controlled by separatists.
In Luhansk and Donetsk, half a dozen Russian attacks were repulsed, with tanks and armoured combat vehicles destroyed, governor Gaidai said.

Viktor Andrusiv, an adviser to the interior minister, said Ukraine was awaiting delivery of more sophisticated weapons and expecting further attacks from Russia.
“We are preparing for rocket attacks today – please, take air alerts very responsibly today.”

Reuters

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