Ukraine battles Russian assault in east as Kyiv allies plan winter aid

KYIV: Russia and Ukraine fought each other in heavy fighting in the eastern region of Donetsk on Tuesday as KyivAllies of have gathered in Paris to provide emergency aid to help Ukrainians survive freezing winter temperatures.
Moscow is fighting to take full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, two of four territories the Kremlin claims it annexed in votes rejected by most countries as illegal.
Moscow is also attacking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with waves of missile and drone strikes, at times knocking out power to millions of civilians enduring Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War II.
“Slightly more than 50% of the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic has been liberated,” Denis Pushilin, Russian administrator of the Moscow-controlled part, told Russian news agency RIA.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the report.
The fierce fighting in the region in recent weeks makes it unclear which parts of Donetsk are under Russian and Ukrainian control.
Three civilians have been killed in the Donetsk region in the past 24 hours, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on his Telegram channel, while in the south Kherson region, regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevich reported that three people were killed and 15 injured in Russian artillery attacks over the past day.
Russian troops shelled the Ukrainian-held part of the Kherson region 57 times, he said.
Russian-backed shelling of the frontline in Donetsk has completely destroyed the town of Bakhmut and severely damaged the centrally located town of Avdiivka, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday.
On Monday, the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said Russia continued to focus its efforts to advance and capture the two cities.
Reuters could not independently verify the latest battlefield accounts.
Belarus, a close ally of Russia, has launched a rapid combat readiness inspection of its troops after an order from President Alexander Lukashenko, the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
It is the latest in a series of military actions, including a counter-terrorism drill last week, that have raised fears that Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine from Belarusian territory in the coming months.
Meanwhile, in Paris, about 70 countries and institutions will discuss what can be offered by March to maintain water, food, energy, health and transport in Ukraine. A second meeting between France, Ukraine and some 500 companies will see what can be invested and done in the short and long term.
A French diplomat told reporters in a briefing ahead of the meeting that the immediate priority was to ensure the power grid did not collapse and water pipes did not freeze.
Arriving at the meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron said there was an agreement on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and that talks were underway on the modalities for this.
The Group of Seven pledged on Monday to “address Ukraine’s urgent needs” after Zelenskyy appealed for modern tanks, artillery and long-range weapons. Zelenskyy also urged G7 leaders in a virtual meeting to back his idea of ​​convening a special world peace summit to bring peace to his country.
The summit would focus on the implementation of Kiev’s 10-point peace plan which insists, among other things, on the withdrawal by Russia of all its troops from Ukraine and on no territorial concessions from Kiev.
US President Joe Biden told Zelenskyy on Sunday that Washington’s priority was to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses. The United States also shipped the first batch of electrical equipment to Ukraine under an aid package agreed last month.
Russia is “deliberately trying to freeze Ukrainians to death as we enter winter,” a senior US official said.
Moscow denies deliberately attacking civilians, but the war has displaced millions and killed thousands of non-combatants.
Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said “unbearable conditions” were likely to send another wave of Ukrainian refugees to Europe over the winter.
Sergey Kovalenko, the head of YASNO, which supplies electricity to kyiv, said on his Facebook page that power shortages in the capital were significant.
There are no ongoing peace talks to end the conflict, which Moscow describes as a “special military operation” against security threats posed by its neighbour. Ukraine and its Western allies call this an unprovoked imperialist land grab.
Russia does not yet see a “constructive” approach from the United States on the Ukrainian conflict, the RIA news agency said on Monday, citing Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin.


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