West denounces death sentences for 3 who fought for Ukraine
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Civilians fled intense fighting in eastern Ukraine on Friday as Russian and Ukrainian forces engaged in a grinding battle of attrition for key cities in the country's industrial heartland. Mostly women, children and elderly residents left on a special evacuation train that departed from the city of Pokrovsk and headed west. “We live on the front line now,” said Svitlana Kaplun, whose family fled as shelling reached their neighborhood in the city of Krasnohorivka. After a bungled attempt to overrun Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, in the early days of the war, Russia shifted its focus to an eastern region of coal mines and factories known as the Donbas. The fighting there has led to mounting casualties and renewed pleas from Ukraine to the West for more weapons. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, told the BBC in an interview aired Thursday that the daily loss of 100 to 200 Ukrainian soldiers is the result of a “complete lack of parity” between Ukraine and Russia. He said only more advanced Western weaponry will turn back the Russian offensive and force Moscow to the negotiating table. Fighting in the Donbas has ground on for more than two months, and the slog continued Friday.
Sievierodonetsk is in the last pocket of Luhansk province that has not yet been claimed by Russia or Moscow-backed separatists. An envoy for the Luhansk People’s Republic, a self-proclaimed separatist territory, reported Friday that some Ukrainian troops were trapped inside a chemical plant on the city's outskirts. “All escape routes have been cut off,” Rodion Miroshnik, Moscow ambassador for the unrecognized republic, wrote on social media. Miroshnik echoed earlier claims by a Russian defense official that civilians remained on the plant's grounds. As of Friday afternoon, there was no response from the Ukrainian side. Meanwhile, Moscow kept up its artillery strikes on the neighboring city of Lysychansk and surrounding towns and villages, the Ukrainian military said. An adviser to Ukraine’s president says artillery attacks devastated two Russian bases in the southern Kherson region, which has been under Russian occupation since early in the war. Oleksiy Arestovych, in his regular online interview, said Friday that the attack on Stara Zburivka, a village along the Dnieper River, killed dozens, including a Russian army general and a general in the FSB intelligence service.
He said the FSB general was tasked with organizing a referendum on whether the Kherson region should join Russia. Ukraine has claimed to have killed about a dozen generals in the war, but only a few of the deaths have been confirmed. Arestovych said a separate attack this week on a Russian base in Chkalove killed at least 200 troops, including Arabs, presumably from Syria. He said in both cases the Ukrainian forces used 155mm howitzers supplied by the West. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his army’s ability to hold off Russian forces in the Donbas depends on the supply of Western weapons. Ukrainian troops "are doing everything to stop the offensive, as much as they possibly can, as long as there are enough heavy weapons, modern artillery — all that we have asked for and continue to ask for from our partners,” he said Friday in his nightly video address. He said Russia wants to destroy every city in the Donbas. Follow AP’s coverage of the Ukraine war at https://apnews.
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