Russia pummelled positions in the east of Ukraine on Sunday, its defence ministry said, as it sought to encircle Ukrainian forces in the battle for Donbas and fend off a counteroffensive around the strategic Russian-controlled city of Izium.
The NATO secretary general, meanwhile, told a meeting in Germany that Ukraine could win the war, calling for more military support and fast-track approval of Finland and Sweden’s expected bids to join the alliance.
Ukraine has scored a series of successes since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, forcing Russia’s commanders to abandon an advance on the capital Kyiv before making rapid gains to drive them from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city.
Moscow’s invasion, which it calls a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists, has jolted European security. Kyiv and its Western allies say the fascism assertion is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression.
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McConnell sees Wednesday US Senate vote on $40 billion Ukraine aid bill
US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he expected the Senate to vote on Wednesday to approve about $40 billion in proposed aid to help Ukraine resist Russia’s invasion after holding a related procedural vote on Monday.
“We expect to invoke cloture – hopefully by a significant margin – on the motion to proceed on Monday, which would set us up to approve the supplemental on Wednesday,” McConnell said after visiting the Ukrainian capital on Saturday.
He was referring to a procedural “cloture” vote that caps further debate on a matter at 30 hours.
Gas taps turned on after damage to pipeline
Ukraine’s gas transit system operator said over the weekend that it had resumed operations at two distribution stations in the Kharkiv region and restarted gas supply to more than 3,000 consumers.
“Both stations were shut down due to damage to the main gas pipeline in the Kharkiv region as a result of hostilities,” the operator said in a statement, adding that the damages have now been repaired.
Some 54 gas distribution stations in seven regions of Ukraine remain shut down, the operator added.
Kalush residents overjoyed at band’s Eurovision win
Residents of Kalush said they were in “seventh heaven,” jumping and rejoicing after a band from the western Ukrainian city won the Eurovision Song Contest over the weekend.
The Kalush Orchestra won Eurovision with their entry “Stefania”, surfing a wave of public support to claim an emotional victory that was welcomed by the country’s president.
“With all my soul, all my love, I love my Kalush. My wife and I have been watching until 1 a.m. And we were happy to win. I was jumping. I was in seventh heaven,” said Petro Yugan, a 74-year-old resident of Kalush.
“But I also want us to end the war as fast as possible, and it would be an even bigger victory.”
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Ukraine accused Russia on Sunday of dropping “phosphorus bombs” on the Azovstal steelworks as a large evacuation convoy managed to escape the besieged port city of Mariupol
Sweden on Sunday night joined Finland in announcing its intention to join Nato, demonstrating to Russia that “aggression does not pay”, the chief of the alliance has said.
The frontman of Ukraine’s Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra has returned home to join the defence of his country.
Kharkiv is beginning to look like Ukraine’s second major victory in the war after the defence of Kyiv. It could have dramatic implications for the further progress of the conflict.