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Ukrainian counterattacks are slowing down Russia’s offensive in the east

Russian troops are pushing for an offensive in the eastern region of Donbas in an effort to fully control the industrial heart of Ukraine, but have not made much progress because their efforts have been slowed by sharp Ukrainian counterattacks, Ukrainian and British officials said on Saturday.

Russia continues to fight for full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that make up Donbas and seeks to secure a “land route between those territories and occupied Crimea”, among other things, by erasing the last outbreak of resistance in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian general said. staff.

Ukrainian forces have repulsed eight Russian attacks in two regions in the last 24 hours, destroying nine tanks, 18 armor and 13 vehicles, a tanker and three artillery systems, the general staff said.

Residents are looking at their house destroyed by a Russian bomb in Chernigov. (AP)

“Russian occupiers are regrouping. The Russian enemy continues to launch rocket and bomb attacks on military and civilian infrastructure,” the general staff said on Facebook.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Saturday that two people had been killed by Russian shelling in Popasna.

An evacuation train for residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions is expected to depart from the city of Pokrovsk in the east of the country to the city of Chop in western Ukraine near the Ukrainian border with Slovakia and Hungary on Saturday.

“In addition to the street fighting continuing for several weeks, the Russian military is constantly shooting at multi-storey residential buildings and private homes,” Haidai wrote on Instagram’s messaging app. “Just yesterday, the locals resisted five enemy artillery attacks … Not all of them survived.”

The British Ministry of Defense said that despite their increased activity, “Russian forces have not made any major gains in the last 24 hours because Ukrainian counterattacks continue to hamper efforts.”

A firefighter sits on a swing next to a building destroyed by a Russian bomb in Chernihiv. (AP)

Russia has still not put in place air or naval control due to Ukrainian resistance, and despite President Vladimir Putin’s statement on the victory at Mariupol, “heavy fighting is under way, thwarting Russia’s attempts to conquer the city, further slowing their required advance on the Donbas.” “, Said the Ministry of Defense.

Ukrainian officials have again tried to evacuate women, children and the elderly from Mariupol on Saturday after many previous attempts failed. The effort was to start at noon, “if everything goes according to plan,” said Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk in the Telegram messaging app.

Russia has withdrawn a dozen crack troops from Mariupol to reinforce the offensive elsewhere in the Donbas, while other troops continue to hold the remaining Ukrainian troops in a city strapped to the Azovstal steelworks, the last remaining stronghold, Ukrainian officials said.

Putin allegedly ordered his forces not to attack the power plant, to complete the defenders, but instead to seal it in an apparent attempt to force them to give up.

People walk near a burning apartment after being hit during the Russian bombing in Kharkov, Ukraine. (AP)

Russian forces are attacking 2,000 Ukrainian fighters who are still hidden inside, the mayor’s office said on Friday.

“Every day they drop several bombs on Azovstal,” said Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol. “Fighting, shelling, bombing don’t end there.”

After weeks of bombing, Mariupol turned largely into smoky rubble, and Russian state television showed the flag of Promoskev’s Donetsk separatists hoisted on the city’s highest point, its television tower. It also turned out that the main building of the Azovstal steelworks was on fire.

Under the cover of darkness, Ukrainian forces managed to transport weapons to the besieged steelworks by helicopter, said Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council.

Firefighters are working to put out a fire in a shop after the Russian bombing in Kharkov, Ukraine. (AP)

In total, the Kremlin has thrown more than 100,000 troops and mercenaries from Syria and Libya into the fighting in Ukraine and is deploying additional forces in the country every day, Danilov said.

“We have a difficult situation, but our army is defending our state,” he said.

Mariupol gained extraordinary importance in the war. Its conquest would deprive Ukrainians of a vital port and complete the land corridor between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Putin occupied in 2014.

It would also allow Putin to throw more of his forces into the potentially ultimate battle of the Donbas and its coal mines, factories, and other industries, or what the Kremlin has now declared its main goal.

The latest satellite images from Maxar Technologies revealed what appeared to be the second mass grave near Mariupol. There are several newly dug parallel ditches about 40 meters long at the site of the cemetery in Vynohradný, Maxar said in a statement.

A man with a gas mask helps firefighters put out a residential house fire after the Russian bombing in Kharkov, Ukraine. (AP)

The day before, Maxar had published photos of what looked like rows of more than 200 freshly dug mass graves next to the cemetery in Manhush near Mariupol. This prompted Ukrainian allegations that the Russians were trying to conceal the killing of civilians in the city.

“This again confirms that the occupiers arrange for the collection, burial and cremation of the dead in every part of the city,” Andryushchenko said in a Telegram messaging app.

Ukrainians estimated that the graves in the photos published on Thursday could hold 9,000 bodies.

The Kremlin did not respond to the satellite images.

This satellite image, provided by Maxar Technologies, shows the cemetery before the expansion of the graves at Vynohradny, about 12 kilometers east of Mariupol in Ukraine. (AP)

According to Ukrainian authorities, more than 100,000 people are imprisoned in Mariupol – about 430,000 of the pre-war population – are imprisoned in Mariupol with little food, water or heat, and more than 20,000 civilians have been killed in a nearly two-month siege.

Most attempts to evacuate civilians from the city failed because, according to the Ukrainians, Russian shelling continued.