Russia has accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky of turning the eastern Donbass region into a “hell.”
During a speech in the evening from the capital, Kiev, he said, “Russian forces have leveled the area.”
“There are ongoing strikes in the Odessa region and in cities in central Ukraine. The Donbass region has been completely destroyed,” he added.
“None of this and there can be no military explanation by Russia,” Zelensky said.
“This is a deliberate criminal attempt to kill as many Ukrainians as possible. Destroy as many homes, social facilities and businesses as possible.”
On Thursday, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry accused Russia of intensifying its attacks on the Donbass and preventing civilians from fleeing.
Why is Russia targeting the Donbass region?
Russia has shifted the focus of its war to eastern Ukraine after withdrawing its forces from areas near the capital Kiev.
The war for the heart of the old industrial area of Ukraine, known as the Donbass, will determine the fate of the Russian invasion.
Most of the inhabitants of the Donbass region speak Russian, and Russia has repeatedly spoken about the “liberation” of the two republics that declared their independence from Ukraine, Luhansk and Donetsk.
The capture of the area would allow Moscow to open a causeway to the Russian border on the south coast and restrict water supply to Crimea, which was annexed in 2014.
Russian forces are also trying to blockade Ukrainian forces in the region. About 40,000 of Ukraine’s most powerful and warriors are stationed in the Donbass, and their loss would be a major blow to President Zhelensky’s war effort.
But in recent days, military analysts say, efforts are stalling as Russian forces are forced to retreat from the city of Kharkiv towards the Russian border.
New American aid package
In his speech, Zhelensky thanked the US Senate for approving the $ 40 billion humanitarian and security assistance package to Ukraine.
He described it as a significant contribution to the restoration of peace and security in Ukraine and the world.
The US Senate has voted to approve a bill to provide $ 40 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, the largest emergency aid package to date.
With this new package, total US aid to Ukraine brings in more than $ 50 billion in training, equipment, weapons and support, including $ 6 billion in defense assistance.
Meanwhile, Reuters news agency reported that US officials were considering supplying the Ukrainian military with advanced anti-ship missiles.
Citing officials in the administration of US President Joe Biden, the report said the White House could supply Boeing horn and naval strike missiles to Kiev to target the Russian Black Navy, which is currently besieging Ukrainian ports.
British security officials said about 20 Russian naval units were operating in the area, including submarines.
U.S. officials say they hope the weapons will help drive Russian ships out of Ukrainian territory and allow them to resume exports of grain and other agricultural products.
But the missiles, which cost about $ 15 million per team and have a range of up to 300 km, are primarily maritime missiles, meaning Ukraine can fight to launch them from the ground.
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