KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia’s top diplomat has warned Ukraine against provoking World War III and said the threat of nuclear conflict “should not be underestimated” as his country launched attacks against railway and oil installations far from the front
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia’s top diplomat has warned Ukraine against provoking World War III and said the threat of nuclear conflict “should not be underestimated” as his country was launching attacks on railway and oil installations far from the front lines of the new eastern region of Moscow. offensive.
Meanwhile, the British Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that Russian forces had taken the Ukrainian town of Kreminna in the Luhansk region after days of street-to-street fighting.
“The town of Kreminna is believed to have fallen and heavy fighting is reported south of Izium as Russian forces attempt to advance towards the towns of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk from the north and east,” the British military said in a statement. a tweet. He did not say how he knew the city, 575 kilometers (355 miles) southeast of the Ukrainian capital, kyiv, had fallen. The Ukrainian government did not immediately comment.
Ukraine’s general staff said Russian forces were shelling Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, as they struggled to take full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which include Donbass in the industrial heartland of the country. Ukraine, and establish a land corridor to Crimea.
In the area of Velyka Oleksandrivka, a village in the largely Russian-controlled Kherson region, Ukrainian forces destroyed an ammunition depot and “eliminated” more than 70 Russian soldiers, the General Staff said.
Luhansk region governor Serhiy Haidai said on the Telegram messaging app that the Russians had shelled civilians 17 times in the past 24 hours, with the towns of Popasna, Lysychansk and Girske suffering the most.
Four people died and nine others were injured in the Russian shelling of the Donetsk region on Monday, its governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram. He said a 9-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were among those killed.
The United States sent more weapons to Ukraine and said help from Western allies was making a difference in the 2 month war.
“Russia is failing. Ukraine is succeeding,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday after he and the US Secretary of Defense boldly traveled to Kyiv to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
blinken said washington approved a $165 million ammunition sale — non-U.S. ammunition, mostly if not entirely for Soviet-era Ukrainian weapons — and will also provide more than $300 million in funding to purchase more supplies.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin went further, saying that the United States wants to see Ukraine remain a sovereign and democratic country, but also wants “to see Russia weakened to the point where it cannot make things like invading Ukraine”.
Austin’s remarks appeared to represent a shift in US strategic goals, as Washington had previously said the goal of US military aid was to help Ukraine win and defend Ukraine’s neighbors from the war. NATO against Russian threats.
In an apparent response to Austin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia had “the feeling that the West wants Ukraine to keep fighting and, in their view, exhausting, exhausting the Russian army and the Russian military-industrial war complex. It’s an illusion.”
Weapons supplied by Western countries “will be a legitimate target”, said Lavrov, who accused Ukraine’s leaders of provoking Russia by asking NATO to get involved in the conflict. NATO forces are “pouring oil on the fire,” Lavrov said, according to a transcript on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.
“Everyone is reciting incantations that under no circumstances can we allow World War III,” he said in an interview with Russian television.
Lavrov said he would not want to see the risks of a nuclear confrontation “artificially inflated now, when the risks are quite significant”.
“The danger is serious,” he said. “He is real. It should not be underestimated. »
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter that Lavrov’s comments underline Ukraine’s need for Western help: “Russia is losing its last hope to dissuade the world from supporting Ukraine. Thus we speak of a “real” danger of the Third World War. It only means that Moscow feels defeat in Ukraine.”
When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, its apparent objective was to seize the capital, Kyiv. But the Ukrainians, aided by western weaponsforced President Vladimir Putin’s troops to retreat.
Moscow now says its aim is to take Donbass, the predominantly Russian-speaking industrial region of eastern Ukraine, where residents struggle to survive without most basics, harvesting rainwater for cleaning and the dishes and fervently hoping for an end to the fighting. .
“When you open a plastic bottle and it crackles, you immediately get worried (thinking it’s an explosion) because of all these explosions. Everything that happens, the slightest noise, if our neighbors slam on the door, a metal door, you are surprised,” said Andriy Cheromushkin, a resident of Toretsk, a small town south of Kramatorsk.
“It’s bad. Very bad. Hopeless,” he said. “You feel so helpless that you don’t know what to do or not to do. Because if you want to do something, you need money; and there is no money now.
On Monday, Russia was concentrating its firepower beyond the Donbass, with missiles and fighter jets hitting far behind the front lines to try thwart Ukraine’s supply efforts.
Five railway stations in central and western Ukraine were hit and one worker was killed, said Oleksandr Kamyshin, director of Ukrainian National Railways. Missiles hit Lviv, the western city near the Polish border blocked by Ukrainians fleeing their homes.
Ukrainian authorities said at least five people were killed by Russian strikes in the central region of Vynnytsia.
Russia also destroyed an oil refinery and fuel depots in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said. In total, Russian warplanes destroyed 56 Ukrainian targets, he said.
Strikes against fuel depots aim to deplete vital Ukrainian war resources. Strikes on railroad targets both disrupt supply lines and intimidate people trying to use the railroads to flee the fighting, said Philip Breedlove, a retired US general who served as the commander in head of NATO from 2013 to 2016.
Around 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers holed up in a steelworks in Mariupol, a strategic southern port city, pinned down Russian forces, apparently preventing them from joining the offensive elsewhere in Donbass. Over the weekend, Russian forces launched new airstrikes on the Azovstal factory in an attempt to dislodge resisters.
Some 1,000 civilians are also said to have taken refuge in the steelworks.
The Mariupol city council and mayor said a new mass grave had been identified about 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the city. Mayor Vadym Boychenko said authorities were trying to estimate the number of casualties. It was at least the third new mass grave discovered in Russian-held areas near Mariupol last week.
Mariupol has been ravaged by shelling and heavy street fighting over the past two months. Capturing the city by Russia would deprive Ukraine of a vital port and give Moscow a land corridor to the Crimean peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy said Ukraine is maintaining its resistance to “make the occupiers’ stay on our land even more intolerable” while Russia is draining its resources.
Britain has said it believes 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said 25% of Russian combat units sent to Ukraine “have been rendered non-combat effective”.
Ukrainian officials said around 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed by mid-April.
Gambrell reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Associated Press reporter Yuras Karmanau in Lviv and AP staff around the world contributed to this report.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
David Keyton and Jon Gambrell, Associated Press