Russia threatens broad Ukrainian offensive as US pressures China for war stance
- American Blinken worries about China’s alignment with Moscow
- Governors of Lugansk and Donetsk report fighting and strikes
- Kharkiv hit by missile, three injured – governor
- Ukrainian foreign minister echoes Western calls for arms
KYIV, July 9 (Reuters) – Ukrainian defenders fought on Saturday to contain Russian forces on multiple fronts, officials said, as the United States urged China to align itself with the West to oppose to the invasion following a moody G20 meeting.
A missile strike on the northeastern city of Kharkiv injured three civilians, its governor said, although Russia’s main attacks appear to be concentrated southeast of there in Luhansk and Donetsk.
These two provinces, parts of which were held by pro-Russian separatists before the conflict began in February, include the eastern industrial region of Donbass.
Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Ukrainian officials reported strikes in both countries on Saturday, while the British Ministry of Defense said Moscow was gathering reserve forces from across Russia near Ukraine. Read more .
Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on the Telegram messaging service that a Russian missile hit Druzhkivka, a town behind the front line, and reported shelling other population centers.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Telegram that Russian forces were “firing along the entire front line”, although a subsequent Ukrainian counterattack that hit arms and ammunition stores forced Moscow to stop his offensive.
Russia, which claimed control of the entire Lugansk province last weekend, denies targeting civilians.
On Friday, Ukraine had pleaded for more high-end Western weapons which Kyiv said had enabled it to slow Russia’s advance.
Hours later, US President Joe Biden signed an arms package for Ukraine worth up to $400 million, including four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). (nL1N2YP1NH)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has declared armaments a priority need. “That’s what helps us pressure the enemy,” he said on Twitter.
In reaction, the Russian embassy in Washington declared that the United States wanted “to prolong the conflict at all costs”.
On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the international community to join forces in condemning Russian aggression, told reporters that he had raised concerns with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the alignment of Beijing with Moscow. Read more
The two men had more than five hours of talks on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali. On Friday, Russian Sergei Lavrov left a meeting there, denouncing the West for its “frenzied criticism”.
China’s Foreign Ministry said, without giving details, that Wang and Blinken discussed “the Ukraine issue”.
He also quoted Wang as saying that China-US relations were in danger of being further “misguided”, with many people believing that “the United States is suffering from an increasingly severe bout of ‘Chinaphobia'”.
Shortly before the Russian invasion, Beijing and Moscow announced a ‘limitless’ partnership, although US officials said they had not seen China evade US sanctions against Russia or supply it with equipment military.
Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synehubov said on Telegram that apart from the missile strike, the fighters repelled two Russian attacks near Dementiivka, a town between the city and the border with Russia.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces struck two “foreign mercenary bases deployed near Kharkiv”.
Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov also said troops had destroyed ammunition depots in the Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk regions.
Russian-backed forces in the territory of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said three people had died and 17 were injured in the past 24 hours as Ukrainian forces shelled 10 sites.
Reuters could not independently verify the Battlefield accounts.
PLEA FOR SANCTIONS
After Friday’s tense G20 exchanges, President Vladimir Putin also signaled that the Kremlin was in no mood to compromise, saying sanctions on Russia risked “catastrophic” oil price hikes. ‘energy. Read more
Putin had indicated on Thursday that the prospects for finding a solution to the conflict were currently slim, saying that Russia’s campaign in Ukraine had only just begun.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Saturday the sanctions were working and echoed calls for more deliveries of high-precision Western weapons.
“The Russians are desperately trying to lift these sanctions, which proves that they are hurting them. Therefore, the sanctions must be tightened until Putin abandons his aggressive plans,” Kuleba told a forum in Dubrovnik via video link.
Russian Ambassador to Britain Andrei Kelin on Friday offered little prospect of withdrawal from parts of Ukraine under Russian control and said Russian troops would take the rest of Donbass. Read more
Since Russia, which also seized much of southern Ukraine, launched what it calls a ‘special operation’ to demilitarize Ukraine, towns have been burned to the ground , thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced.
Ukraine and its Western allies say Russia is engaged in an unprovoked land grab.
Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting from Reuters offices Writing by John Stonestreet Editing by Frances Kerry
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.