KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — At least three Ukrainian civilians have been killed and 20 others wounded in the latest artillery barrages from the Russian military, Ukrainian officials said Monday.
The eastern region of Donetsk, one of the two provinces making up the country’s industrial heartland of Donbas that has been the focus of a Russian offensive, has faced the most intense shelling.
Regional officials said at least three people died and another 13 were wounded by Russian shelling that hit numerous towns and villages in the Donetsk region during the last 24 hours. The barrage has damaged dozens of residential buildings and civilian infrastructure.
In the country’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, seven civilians were wounded in the latest Russian shelling that hit residential buildings and an area near a bus stop early Monday. Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Synyehubov said the wounded included a 80-year-old woman.
The Russian forces also struck several other regions of Ukraine with rockets and artillery.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Monday that Russian warplanes have struck Ukrainian army positions in the southern Kherson region and in the Donetsk region. He added that the Russian air force also hit a facility in the Kharkiv region, killing at least 100 and wounding 50 “mercenaries” from Poland and Germany. His claims couldn’t be independently verified.
Speaking at the opening of an arms show outside Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the military’s actions in Ukraine, declaring that it “fights for Russia … and fulfilling all the tasks that were set, liberating the Donbas step by step.” He also vowed to expand arms sales to Russian allies, whom he praised for continuing to offer firm support to Moscow in the face of Western pressure.
For their part, the Ukrainian military claimed to have destroyed more than 10 Russian warehouses with ammunition and military equipment in the past week.
In other developments Monday:
__ Lawyers for American basketball star Brittney Griner filed an appeal against her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession, Russian news agencies reported. Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted on Aug. 4. She was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after vape canisters containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage.
__ The Ukrainian parliament, Verkhovna Rada, extended martial law and the country’s general mobilization for another 90 days.
“Ukraine has always longed and longs for peace and many times in various negotiation formats has offered the Russian leadership to end the war and free Ukrainian land from occupation,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video late Sunday. “But so far, Russia believes in terror, remains in the grip of its propaganda illusions and still hopes that it can supposedly achieve something through various forms of blackmail. It won’t.”
He emphasized that “we must defend ourselves,” adding that “the stronger Ukraine will be, the weaker Russia will be, and therefore, the less time this war will last.”
__ Zelenskyy dismissed the heads of three regional branches of Ukraine’s top security agency, SBU, in the Kyiv, Lviv and Tarnopil regions. Zelenskyy’s office didn’t elaborate on the reasons behind the move. Last month, he dismissed SBU chief Ivan Bakanov and a chief prosecutor, saying their departments had too many people who faced accusations of collaborating with the Russians.
Speaking in an interview with Singapore’s CNA television, Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska, said that “no one in the world can take a neutral stand in that war,” adding that “you can either be on the aggressor’s side or the one who has come under attack, there is no other choice.”
“People in other countries should know — it’s not Ukraine to blame for soaring prices, it’s the aggressor who started the war,” she said.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine