A young local resident passes by a crater caused by a Russian strike in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on Saturday. AP
After ending weeks of resistance by the last Ukrainian fighters in the strategic southeastern city of Mariupol, Russia is waging a major offensive in Luhansk, one of two provinces in Donbas.
Russia claims to capture Mariupol as Ukrainian defenders surrender
Russia halts gas supplies to Finland
Russian-backed separatists already controlled swathes of territory in Luhansk and the neighbouring Donetsk province before the Feb. 24 invasion, but Moscow wants to seize the last remaining Ukrainian-held territory in Donbas.
"The situation in Donbas is extremely difficult," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address. The Russian army was trying to attack the cities of Sloviansk and Sievierodonetsk, but Ukrainian forces were holding off their advance, he said.
Smoke rises above a residential area near the town of Izium, Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Saturday. Reuters
Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak ruled out agreeing to a ceasefire and said Kyiv would not accept any deal with Moscow that involved ceding territory. Making concessions would backfire on Ukraine because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting, he said.
"The war will not stop (after concessions). It will just be put on pause for some time," Podolyak, Ukraine's lead negotiator, told Reuters in an interview in the heavily guarded presidential office. "They'll start a new offensive, even more bloody and large-scale."
Recent calls for an immediate ceasefire have come from US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
The end of fighting in Mariupol, the biggest city Russia has captured, gives Russian President Vladimir Putin a rare victory after a series of setbacks in nearly three months of combat.
Service members of the Ukrainian armed forces travel on a military vehicle near the town of Bakhmut. Reuters
The last Ukrainian forces holed up Mariupol's vast Azovstal steelworks surrendered on Friday, Russia said.
Full control of Mariupol gives Russia command of a land route linking the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized in 2014, with mainland Russia and areas of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russia separatists.
Ukrainian forces in the separatist-controlled regions of Luhansk and Donetsk said on Saturday they had repelled nine attacks and destroyed five tanks and 10 other armoured vehicles in the previous 24 hours.
Russian forces were using aircraft, artillery, tanks, rockets, mortars and missiles along the entire front line to attack civilian structures and residential areas, the Ukrainians said in a Facebook post. At least seven people had been killed in the Donetsk region, they said.
People walk past a destroyed building in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Saturday. AP
Russian troops destroyed a bridge on the Siverskiy Donets River between Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said. There was fighting on the outskirts of Sievierodonetsk from morning through the night, he said on the Telegram messaging app.
Sievierodonetsk and its twin Lysychansk across the Siverskiy Donets River form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to overrun since mid-April after failing to capture Kyiv.
The eastern Donetsk region has faced the brunt of Russia's offensive since its assault on Kyiv failed weeks into the invasion launched on February 24.
Energoatom, operator of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the south of the country, said on Saturday that parts of the facility had been "seriously damaged" by military strikes and one of its reactors was forced to shut down.
The meeting also comes a day after the head of NATO said it was "urgent" that the UN's atomic watchdog be allowed to inspect Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where a Russian occupation has sparked concerns of a nuclear accident.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its sincere condolences to the Government of India and its people and to the families of the victims of this tragedy, as well as its wishes for a speedy recovery for the injured.
UAE's Foreign Minister said that the signing of the UAE-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement in 2017 and the CEPA in 2022 constituted a strong impetus and a paradigm shift in the course of Emirati-Indian relations.
The live-streaming link, which is still available on YouTube, from Mars celebrated the 20th anniversary of the launch of ESA's Mars Express orbiter. Over the past 20 years, Mars Express has orbited the Red Planet 24,510 times, during which its camera acquired around 6,916 images.
"That explosion in usage is no accident. It is the result of defendants' studied efforts to induce young people to compulsively use their products — Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube," the lawsuit read.