Russian forces bombed eastern and southern Ukraine on Wednesday after Washington said it saw signs that Moscow was preparing to formally annex territory it has held during nearly five months of war.
Meanwhile, uncertainty loomed over the resumption, planned for Thursday, of a massive Russian gas pipeline to Europe, after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that its capacity could be reduced further due to the sluggish progress in equipment maintenance.
Ukraine’s military and politicians reported heavy and sometimes fatal Russian bombing amid what they said were largely unsuccessful attempts by Russian ground forces to advance.
British military intelligence said Russia’s offensive in the eastern Donbas region continued to make minimal gains while Ukrainian forces – backed by the UK – held firm. More than two weeks have passed since Russia’s last major territorial advance, the city of Lysychansk.
The Kremlin said there was no time frame for the so-called “special military operation” to guarantee its own security, given the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Western military alliance, and that it would do whatever it took to achieve its goals. .
Ukraine and the West condemn the conflict as an unprovoked war of aggression by Russia against its neighbour.
Five civilians were killed and 16 wounded in Russian bombings in the Donetsk region, and two civilians were killed in bombings in the southern city of Nikopol, governors of those regions said on Telegram.
Roman Starovoit, governor of Russia’s Kursk region, which borders Ukraine, wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian forces had bombed a border crossing.
According to Russian news agency Tass, the mayor of Horlivka, a city in the self-proclaimed Russian-backed People’s Republic of Donetsk, said one person was killed and three wounded, including a child, in the Ukrainian bombing.
Reuters could not immediately verify the Ukrainian and Russian reports.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has inspected troops fighting in Ukraine, his ministry said on Wednesday. The ministry added that he had ordered reinforced actions to shoot down Ukrainian drones operating in border regions and prevent Ukraine from bombing areas it had lost control of.
Citing US intelligence, White House national security spokesman John Kirby accused Russia of preparing to annex Ukrainian territory, a claim the Russian embassy in Washington rejects.
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Translated to english by RJ983
From Brazil, by EBC News