Ukraine rejects concessions as the Russians attack east and south - SABC NewsEnglish 

Ukraine is trying to contain Russian forces on several fronts – SABC News

Ukrainian defenders struggled on Saturday to contain Russian forces on several fronts, officials said, as the United States urged China to join the West in opposing the invasion after an acrimonious G20 meeting.

A rocket strike on the northeastern city of Kharkiv wounded three civilians, its governor said, although Russia’s main attacks appeared to be focused 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, make up the eastern industrial region of Donbass.

Ukrainian officials reported strikes on both on Saturday, while Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Moscow was gathering reserve forces from across Russia near Ukraine.

Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko said on the Telegram messaging service that a Russian missile had hit Druzhkovka, a town behind the front lines, and reported shelling of other population centers.

Luhansk Governor Sergei Gaidai said on Telegram that Russian forces were “firing on the entire front line,” although a subsequent Ukrainian counterattack that hit weapons and ammunition depots forced Moscow to halt its offensive.

Russia, which last weekend said it controlled all of Luhansk province, denies attacking civilians.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired several of Kyiv’s top envoys abroad.

In a decree published on the president’s website, Zelensky gave no reason for the dismissal of ambassadors to Germany, India, the Czech Republic, Norway and Hungary.

Zelensky urged his diplomats to gather international support and high-end weapons to slow Russia’s advance.

US President Joe Biden on Friday signed an arms package for Ukraine worth up to $400 million, including four additional High Mobility Artillery Missile Systems (HIMARS).

But Ukraine suffered a diplomatic setback on Saturday when Canada said it would return a repaired turbine that Russia’s state-owned Gazprom had been using to supply natural gas to Germany. Ukraine argued that the return would violate sanctions against Russia.

CHINA-US FRICTIONS

On Saturday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, urging the international community to join forces to condemn Russian aggression, told reporters he had raised concerns with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about Beijing’s alignment with Moscow.

The two held more than five hours of talks on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali. On Friday, Russian Minister Sergei Lavrov walked out of a meeting there, condemning the West for “fierce criticism”.

He also quoted Wang as saying that Sino-US relations are in danger of further “deterioration”, with many believing that “the United States is suffering from an increasingly serious bout of ‘Chinaphobia’.”

Shortly before the Russian invasion, Beijing and Moscow announced an “unrestricted” partnership, although US officials said they had not seen China avoid US-led sanctions against Russia or provide it with military equipment.

Kharkiv Governor Oleg Sinegubov said on Telegram that in addition to the missile strike, the militants had repelled two Russian attacks near Dementievka, a town located between the city and the Russian border.

Russia’s defense ministry said its forces struck two “foreign mercenary bases located near Kharkiv”.

Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov also said troops destroyed ammunition depots in Nikolaev, Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk regions.

Russian-backed forces on the territory of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) said three people were killed and 17 wounded there in the past 24 hours, while Ukrainian forces shelled 10 locations.

Aleksei Kulemzin, the mayor of Donetsk, wrote on Telegram that two women died as a result of shelling in the Kirov district of the city.

REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS

After Friday’s G20 exchange of views, President Vladimir Putin also signaled the Kremlin was in no mood for compromise, saying sanctions against Russia risked causing “catastrophic” increases in energy prices.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Saturday that the sanctions were working and reiterated calls for more supplies of precision Western weapons.

“The Russians are desperately trying to lift these sanctions, which proves that they are really hurting them. Sanctions should therefore be strengthened until Putin abandons his aggressive plans,” Kuleba told a forum in Dubrovnik via video link.

Since Russia, which also seized large swaths of territory in southern Ukraine, launched what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarize Ukraine, cities have been bombed to rubble, thousands killed and millions displaced.

Ukraine and its Western allies claim that Russia is engaged in an unprovoked land grab

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