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Ukraine Says It Repels Russian Attack As War Grinds In East

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KYIV, May 20 (AP): Ukrainian authorities on Friday said that their troops repelled a Russian attack in the east, as Moscow struggled to gain ground in the region that is now the focus of the war even as it intensified its campaign there.

Battered by their months-long siege of the vital port city of Mariupol, Russian troops need time to regroup, Britain’s Defence Ministry said in an assessment — but they may not get it.

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The city and the steelworks where Ukrainian fighters have held off the Russian assault for weeks have become a symbol of Ukraine’s stoic resistance and surprising ability to stymie a much larger force.

On Friday, a number of soldiers — just how many was unclear — were still holed up in the Azovstal plant, following the surrender of more than 1,700 soldiers in recent days.

With the battle for the steel plant winding down, Russia has already started pulling troops back from the site. But the British assessment indicated Russian commanders are under pressure to quickly send them elsewhere in the Donbas.

“That means that Russia will probably redistribute their forces swiftly without adequate preparation, which risks further force attrition,” the ministry said.

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The Donbas is now President Vladimir Putin’s focus after his troops failed to take the capital in the early days of the war.

Pro-Moscow separatists have fought Ukrainian forces for eight years in the region and held a considerable swath of it before Russia’s February 24 invasion.

But the effort to take more territory there has been slow-going. In a sign of Russia’s frustration with the pace of the war, some senior commanders have been fired in recent weeks, the British Defence Ministry said.

Russian forces attacked the cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, both in the Luhansk region of the Donbas, the region’s governor said on Friday.

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Twelve people were killed, and more than 60 houses were destroyed across the region, Serhiy Haidai said in a Telegram post.

But the attack on Severodonetsk was unsuccessful. Both Haidai and Ukraine’s General Staff of the military said Russia took losses and retreated. Their reports could not be independently verified.

Still, Russia’s struggles in the east only seemed to translate into an intensifying offensive that is inflicting increasing suffering.

“It is hell there, and that’s not an exaggeration,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said of the campaign.

“The brutal and completely senseless bombardment of Severodonetsk. Twelve dead and dozens wounded there in just one day,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities have opened the first war crimes trial of the conflict, where a Russian solider stands accused of killing a Ukrainian civilian in the early days of the war.

A 21-year-old soldier in a Russian tank unit, Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, has pleaded guilty, but the prosecution still presented its evidence, in line with Ukrainian law.

Shishimarin told the court Thursday that he shot 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov after he was ordered to — and apologised to the widow.

Ukraine’s surprisingly stiff resistance has been bolstered by Western arms and funding — and more help was on the way this week.

On Thursday, US lawmakers overwhelmingly approved its own aid package of USD 40 billion of military and economic assistance for Ukraine as well as it allies.

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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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