Ukraine repels Russian attacks, fight for Azovstal continues

LEOPOLIS, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian forces said Thursday they have halted Russian attacks in the east and regained control of some territory, as Moscow sought to thwart Western arms shipments to Ukraine with attacks on railway stations and other key targets in the east. supply lines across the country.

At the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol, the battle for the last stronghold of the resistance in the devastated port continued, according to the kyiv army. A Russian official denied that his troops were storming the compound, but the commander of the main Ukrainian military unit at the site said Moscow soldiers had entered the compound’s grounds.

“With the support of aviation, the enemy resumed the offensive to take control of the plant,” the Ukrainian General Staff said, adding that Russian troops were “trying to destroy Ukrainian units.”

West of Mariupol, Ukrainian forces made some progress on the border in the southern regions of Kherson and Mykolaiv, where Kremlin troops are reportedly trying to launch a counteroffensive, and held off 11 attacks in the Donetsk and Luhans regions, the army said. .

Five people have been killed and at least 25 others injured in attacks on several eastern cities in the past 24 hours, Ukrainian officials said.

The Russian military said it used air- and sea-launched missiles to destroy electrical installations at five railway stations across Ukraine, and carried out air and artillery strikes on soldiers’ strongholds and ammunition and fuel depots. Videos posted on social networks hinted that a bridge was also attacked.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of “relying on missile terrorist tactics in order to spread fear throughout Ukraine.”

In response to the attacks, the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said in his evening video address that “All these crimes will be answered, legally and quite practically, on the battlefield.”

The wave of attacks came as Russia prepares to celebrate Victory Day on May 9, which marks the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany. The world will be watching to see if Russian President Vladimir Putin uses the occasion to declare victory in Ukraine or to expand what he calls a “special military operation.”

A declaration of war would allow Putin to implement martial law and mobilize reservists to compensate for the huge number of casualties among his troops.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the speculation as “nonsense.”

Meanwhile, Belarus, from where Russian troops began part of their ground invasion, announced on Wednesday the start of military exercises. A senior Ukrainian official has said his country will be ready to act if Belarus joins the conflict.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said in its daily report on the war that it does not expect these exercises to pose a threat to Ukraine, but noted that Moscow could use them to “hold Ukrainian forces to the north, preventing them from mobilizing for war.” battle for Donbas”, the industrial region of eastern Ukraine that has become the main target of the Kremlin.

The attacks on railway infrastructure were intended to hinder Western arms deliveries, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu noted that the West “is filling Ukraine with weapons.”

A senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the Pentagon’s assessments, said that while Moscow has attempted to attack vital infrastructure around the city of Lviv, targeting rail lines, there has been no “a perceptible impact” on Ukraine’s resupply tasks. Lviv, near the Polish border, has been a major transit point for NATO-supplied weapons.

The weapons that have entered Ukraine helped its forces thwart Russia’s initial push to capture kyiv, and it seems certain that they will play a critical role in the battle for Donbas.

Ukraine has urged the West to increase weapons shipments ahead of that potentially decisive showdown.

In addition to providing weapons, Europe and the United States have tried to punish Moscow with sanctions. The president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, called on the 27-nation bloc on Wednesday to ban imports of Russian oil, a crucial source of revenue for the Kremlin.

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Anna reported from Zaporizhia, Ukraine. Associated Press writers Yesica Fisch in Zaporizhia, Inna Varenytsia and David Keyton in kyiv, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov in Kharkiv, Lolita C. Baldor in Washington, and reporters around the world contributed to this report.

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