space traveling warriors tier list : Biden Sends More Weapons to Ukraine; US observes report on fighters

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – The Russian military said it used long-range missiles on Wednesday to destroy a depot in Ukraine’s western Lviv region where NATO-supplied weapons ammunition was stored, and the governor of a major eastern city acknowledged that Russian forces are advancing in heavy fighting.

The battle for Sievierodonetsk in the Donbass area of ​​eastern Ukraine has become the focus of Russia’s offensive in recent weeks.

Russian-backed separatists have accused Ukrainian forces of sabotaging an evacuation of civilians from the Azot chemical plant, where about 500 civilians and an unknown number of Ukrainian fighters are said to have been sheltered from missile attacks. It was not possible to verify this statement.

Russian officials announced a humanitarian corridor from the Azot factory a day earlier, but said they would take civilians to areas controlled by Russian, not Ukrainian, forces.

The Ukrainian governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai, told the Associated Press that “intense fighting in Sievierodonetsk also continues today.” The situation in the city is getting worse, Haidai said, because Russian forces have more manpower and weapons.

“But our military is holding the enemy from three sides at the same time,” he added.

In the Lviv region, near the border with NATO member Poland, Russian forces used high-precision Kalibr missiles to destroy the depot near the town of Zolochiv, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. Konashenkov said shells for M777 howitzers, a type supplied by the United States, were stored there. He said four howitzers were destroyed elsewhere and that Russian air strikes had also destroyed Ukrainian “aviation equipment” at a military airfield in the southern Mykolaiv region.

Ukrainian officials did not immediately comment on Zolochiv’s attack.

While focusing most of their attacks on eastern Ukraine, where they are trying to capture large swaths of territory, Russian forces are also hitting more specific targets elsewhere, using high-precision missiles to disrupt international arms supplies and destroy infrastructure. military. Civilian infrastructure was also bombed, although Russian officials say they are only targeting military installations.

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The latest attacks came as Ukraine maintains its pressure on Western countries to hand over more weapons and NATO countries pledge more heavy weapons. to Ukraine.

In response, President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the US would send an additional $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine, the largest single tranche of weapons and equipment since the start of the war. Aid will include anti-ship missile launchers, howitzers and more rounds for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems – all major weapons systems that Ukrainian leaders urgently requested.

In recent days, Ukrainian officials have spoken of the high human cost of the war, with Kyiv’s forces disarmed and outnumbered in the east.

Ukrainian President Volodymy Zelenskyy thanked Biden for the new aid package.

“The security support of the United States is unprecedented,” he said, reporting on a phone call the two leaders made on Wednesday. “This brings us closer to a common victory over the Russian aggressor.”

Meanwhile, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, has suggested ominously that Russia seems determined not just to claim territory, but to eliminate Ukraine as a nation. In a Telegram post, he wrote that he saw Ukraine wanting to receive liquefied natural gas from its “overseas masters” with payment due in two years.

He added: “But there is a question. Who said that in two years Ukraine will exist on the map?”

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Zelenskyy, responded on Twitter: “Ukraine was and will be. Where will Medvedev be two years from now? That is the question.”

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MORE STORIES ABOUT THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

— Mines are killing people in Ukraine, even after the fighting leaves its areas

— NATO Defense Ministers discuss sending more weapons to Ukraine

— Germany says a reduced flow of Russian gas seems to be a political move

— Russian Economic Forum happens, but with fewer participants

__ french president suggests he will visit Kyiv to show support for Ukraine

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

The US State Department says it is reviewing reports that Russian or Russian-backed separatist forces in Ukraine have captured at least two US citizens.

In a statement to reporters on Wednesday, the department said it was aware of the unconfirmed reports.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities,” the department said. He declined further comment.

If confirmed, they will be the first Americans fighting for Ukraine to be captured since the Russian invasion on February 24. A court in separatist-controlled Donetsk last week sentenced two Britons and a Moroccan to death for fighting for Ukraine.

US Congressman Adam Kinzinger tweeted that Americans “have enlisted in the Ukrainian army and are therefore given legal protection to combatants” given to prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. It was unclear whether Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, had more information about the men.

He was commenting on a tweet sent on Wednesday by Task Force Baguette, a group of former US and French military personnel, saying that two Americans fighting with them were captured a week ago. The group said Ukrainian intelligence confirmed the information.

At the beginning of the war, Ukraine created the International Legion for foreigners who wanted to help defend against Russian invasion.

The State Department repeated its long-standing advice to Americans not to travel to Ukraine for any purpose and urged those there to leave immediately.

Neither Ukrainian nor Russian authorities have commented on the accounts of the captured Americans.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it might be possible to create safe corridors to transport Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea without the need to clear sea mines near Ukrainian ports.

Cavusoglu’s comments on Wednesday came a week after he discussed with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov a UN plan to open Odesa and other Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea to allow millions of tonnes of grain to be shipped to world markets.

Russia has demanded that Ukraine remove mines from the Black Sea before grain exports can resume by ship. Ukraine rejects the proposal, insisting it would leave its ports vulnerable to Russian attacks.

Cavusoglu told reporters that once the location of the mines is known, it would be possible to establish “safe corridors” that avoid them. Turkey, Russia and Ukraine have appointed military officials and set up a hotline to try to overcome obstacles to crop exports.

UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric hailed Cavusoglu’s comments as “extremely positive” but declined to discuss the plan.

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Russia’s Gazprom announced a reduction in natural gas flows through a major European pipeline for the second day in a row on Wednesday, hours after Germany’s vice chancellor said its initial move appeared to be political rather than the result of technical issues. .

The state-owned energy giant said on Twitter that deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany would be cut again on Thursday, bringing the overall reduction via the subsea pipeline to 60%.

The new cut came a day after Gazprom said it would reduce flows by 40% after Canadian sanctions over the Ukraine war prevented German partner Siemens Energy from delivering overhauled equipment. He blamed the same problem for the further reduction.

Gazprom also told Italian gas giant Eni that it would reduce gas through a different pipeline by about 15% on Wednesday. The reason for the reduction was not clarified, and the Italian company said it was monitoring the situation.

The reduced flows follow the earlier interruption of natural gas supplies from Russia to Bulgaria, Poland, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark as Europe works to reduce its dependence on Russian energy because of the war in Ukraine and sanctions. Gas demand has dropped after the winter heating season, but European utilities are racing to replenish storage before the next winter.

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A UN delegation investigating war crimes in Ukraine visited areas of the country that were held by Russian troops and found evidence that may support the war crimes allegations.

The delegation chaired by Erik Møse, a Norwegian judge, visited places such as the Kyiv suburbs of Bucha and Irpin, where Ukrainian authorities accused Russia of mass killings of civilians.

“At this stage, we are not in a position to make any factual findings or comment on issues of legal determination of events,” Møse said.

“However, subject to further confirmation, the information received and the sites of destruction visited may support allegations that serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, perhaps amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, have been committed in the areas”, he said. he said.

With Ukrainian and international organizations investigating war crimes cases, Møse expressed concern about the risk of investigations “overlapping” or causing more trauma to witnesses by investigating the same events over and over again.

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Russia’s war in Ukraine is spreading deadly garbage of mines, bombs and other explosives. They are killing civilians, stopping planting, complicating the rebuilding of homes and villages, and will continue to take lives and limbs long after the fighting is over.

Often, the victims of the blasts are farmers and other farm workers with little choice but to use mined roads and plow minefields, in a country that depends on crops that feed the world.

Vadym Schvydchenko, a 40-year-old driver who hit a tank mine that blew up his truck, said he will avoid dirt tracks for the foreseeable future, although they are sometimes the only route to fields and rural settlements. Mushroom picking in the forest also lost its appeal for him.

“I’m afraid something like this could happen again,” he said.

Ukraine is now one of the most mined countries in Europe. The east of the country, disputed with Russian-backed separatists since 2014, was already contaminated with mines even before the February 24 Russian invasion multiplied the scale and complexity of the dangers both there and elsewhere.

Ukraine’s State Emergency Service says 300,000 square kilometers (115,000 square miles) – the size of Arizona or Italy – needs to be cleared of mines. The ongoing fight will only expand the area.

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Karmanau reported from Lviv.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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