Live updates | Ukraine reports vast grain seizures by Russia
Ukraine evacuated more people Saturday in the eastern town of Lyman in the fiercely fought-over region of Donetsk, where at least half the residents have fled Russian shelling since the start of the war.
About 20 mostly elderly people boarded a minivan amid the sounds of outgoing artillery and explosions in the distance. All shops were closed in the nearly empty town. Those who stayed rely on the aid provided by the Ukrainian Red Cross.
Those who remain claim they are too old, don’t know where or don’t want to leave home unattended. When the shelling begins, they seek refuge in their basements.
Meanwhile, in Dobropillya, further to the west, two air strikes hit the town on Saturday, damaging buildings and slightly injuring seven people including three children, according to authorities.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Ukrainian forces fight Russia’s grinding advance in eastern Donbas region
— Wives of Mariupol defenders appeal for soldiers’ evacuation from final holdout
— Some Ukrainians go back across front line toward homes, despite dangers
— Ukrainian women learn how to clear land mines at course in Kosovo
Follow all AP stories on Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
Ukraine’s deputy agriculture minister says Russian forces are seizing vast amounts of grain in territory they hold, while its president says the war-torn country is facing fuel shortages. Today, there are proven facts that several hundred thousand tonnes of grain were taken from the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, Donetsk, and Luhansk areas.” minister Taras Vysotsky said to Ukrainian television.
Ukraine is one of the largest grain producers in the world. The Russian invasion has slowed exports, pushing up grain prices around the world and raising concerns about serious grain shortages in importing nations.
Ukraine also faces fuel shortages after Russia demolishes its fuel infrastructures and blocks its ports, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President, said Friday night.
There have been reports of fuel shortages in Kyiv, Dnipro, and other cities. Vehicles can be seen lining up at gas stations and drivers in most places can purchase only 10 liters (2.6 gallons) of fuel at a time.
Zelenskyy promised that officials would find a fuel supply system within a week or two to prevent a deficit but called it a “difficult task” after the refinery at Kremenchuk was hit by a Russian missile.
But, Zelenskyy said, “there are no immediate solutions.”
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has conveyed to Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy his “wish to actively work to re-establish the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine during his second mandate,” in coordination with allies, the presidential Elysee Palace says.
Macron promised Zelenskyy during their hour-long conversation Saturday that Ukraine would continue to receive humanitarian aid and military material.
France has so far sent 615 tons of equipment and aid, including generators for hospitals, ambulances and food. France has been coy about its contribution in defensive weapons, but Macron recently mentioned Milan anti-tank missiles and a delivery of truck-mounted Caesar cannons among “consequential equipment.”
“This support will continue to strengthen,” the French president told Zelenskyy, according to the Elysee.
Macron won re-election as president of France six days earlier. Since Russia’s invasion in February, Macron had many conversations with Zelenskyy as well as Vladimir Putin during his first term. 24.
LVIV, Ukraine — Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow has evacuated over 1 million people from Ukraine since the war there began. The comments made Saturday by Sergey Lavrov during an interview with Xinhua, a Chinese state news agency, were made as Ukraine accuses Moscow of forcing Ukrainians to flee the country. Lavrov said that figure included more than 300 Chinese civilians.
Lavrov did not provide any evidence to back up his claim.
Lavrov also said that negotiations continue between Russia and Ukraine “almost every day.” However, he cautioned that “progress has not been easy.”
Lavrov in part blamed “the bellicose rhetoric and inflammatory actions of Western supporters of the Kyiv regime” for disrupting the talks. Russian state TV has hosted guests suggesting that Moscow uses nuclear weapons in the conflict.
LVIV, Ukraine — The British military believes Russian forces in Ukraine are likely suffering from “weakened morale.”
The British Defense Ministry made that assessment in a tweet Saturday as part of a daily report it provides on Russia’s war on Kyiv. It stated that Russia faces “considerable challenges” in fighting. The British military believes Russian forces have “been forced to merge and redeploy depleted and disparate units from the failed advances in northeast Ukraine.”
It offered no information on how it arrived at this assessment. Analysts believe that the redeployment of Russian forces that failed in taking Kyiv at start of war has been done without the necessary time to properly rearm and restaff. The British believe Russia wants to reorganize and reduce its supply lines.
The ministry added: “A lack of unit-level skills and inconsistent air support have left Russia unable to fully leverage its combat mass, despite localized improvements.”
WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. defense official said Friday the Russian offensive is going much slower than planned in part because of the strength of the Ukrainian resistance. We also believe that the Russian offensive is moving slower than planned because they lack the necessary information to fully understand the Russian plan. The official spoke on condition that he not be identified to discuss the assessment of the U.S. military. He said that the U.S. believes that the Russians are “at most several days behind where it should be” as they attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces in the east. The official stated that the troops are trying to move north from Mariupol in order to advance on the Ukrainian forces from the east. However, their progress had been slow and uneven and not decisive.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to destroy the Donbas and all who live there. Russia is determined to take this territory from all people. This is evident by the constant Russian strikes against infrastructure and residential areas, as well as the brutal bombardments. In his late Friday night video address to the nation, he stated that the defense of our land, and the defense of the people is literally a fight against death. He said that the Donbas’ cities and towns will only survive if Ukraine is not destroyed. “If the Russian invaders can realize their plans even partially, then then they have enough artillery to turn the entire Donbas into stone.”
Zelenskyy said Mariupol, once one of the most developed cities in the region, was now a “Russian concentration camp among the ruins.” As they did with Mariupol.”
Zelenskyy said Mariupol, once one of the most developed cities in the region, was now a “Russian concentration camp among the ruins.”
In Kharkiv, a major city to the north, the situation was “brutal” but Ukrainian troops and intelligence agents “have had important tactical successes,” he said without elaborating.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said about 20% of the city’s residential buildings have been so badly damaged that it will be impossible to restore them.
Zelenskyy said rescuers were still going through the rubble in Kyiv after Thursday’s missile strikes. He offered his condolences for the family of Vira Hyrych who was killed during the bombardment. He said she was the 23rd journalist killed in the war.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov appears to have dismissed the need for the United Nations to help secure humanitarian corridors out of Ukraine’s besieged cities, striking a tough line a day after the U.N. chief toured war-wracked Kyiv with that very aim.
A Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV attempted to interview Lavrov about U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ proposals for humanitarian assistance. Lavrov cut him off.
” There is no need. “I know, I know,” Lavrov said to an annoyed Lavrov. “There is no need to offer help to open humanitarian corridors. He said that there is one problem: Ukrainian ultra-nationals are not paying attention to humanitarian corridors.
“We are grateful for the secretary-general’s willingness to help,” he said. “(We have) explained … what is the mechanism for them to monitor how the humanitarian corridors are announced.”
During the hourlong interview, Lavrov also accused the West of sabotaging Russia’s peace talks with Ukraine. Lavrov claimed that the thorny negotiations in Istanbul last week had been moving forward on issues of Russian territorial claims, security guarantees, until the West urged them to halt the process.
” We are stuck because they want to play games all day,” Lavrov stated. “Because of the instructions they get Washington, from London, from some other capitals, not to accelerate the negotiations.”
When asked about the risks of war spilling into neighboring Moldova after a series of explosions rattled a breakaway border region within the country, Lavrov struck an ominous tone.
“Moldova should worry about their own future,” he said. “Because they’re being pulled into NATO.”
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