As battle looms in eastern Ukraine, Austrian leader to meet Putin

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KYIV/BUZOVA (AP) — Russian forces attacked targets in eastern Ukraine with missiles and artillery on Sunday as Austria’s leader planned to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Washington pledged to give Ukraine “the weapons it needs.” to defend against a new Russian offensive.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said he would meet Putin on Monday in Moscow for the Russian leader’s first face-to-face meeting with a European Union counterpart since the invasion of Russia began on February 24.

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“We are militarily neutral, but (have) a clear position on the Russian aggressive war against #Ukraine,” Nehammer wrote about Austria on Twitter “It must stop! It needs humanitarian corridors, a ceasefire and a full investigation of war crimes.”

Nehammer met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in kyiv on Saturday, the same day as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who promised to deliver 120 armored vehicles and anti-ship missile systems to Ukraine.

Russia has failed to take any major cities since launching its invasion on February 24, but Ukraine says it has been massing its forces in the east for a major assault and has urged people to flee.

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Russian forces fired rockets at Ukraine’s Lugansk and Dnipropetrovsk regions on Sunday, officials said. The missiles completely destroyed the Dnipro city airport, said Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the central Dnipropetrovsk region.

The Russian Defense Ministry said high-precision missiles had destroyed the headquarters of Ukraine’s Dnipro battalion in the town of Zvonetsky.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports.


Since Russia invaded, Zelenskiy has called on Western powers to provide more defense aid and punish Moscow with tougher sanctions, including embargoes on Russian energy exports.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told ABC News:

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“We will give Ukraine the weapons it needs to push back the Russians and prevent them from taking more cities and towns.”

In excerpts from an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Zelenskiy said he had confidence in his own military but “unfortunately I don’t have confidence that we will get everything we need” from the United States.

Zelenskiy earlier said on Twitter that he had spoken by phone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about additional sanctions, as well as more defense and financial support for his country. Zelenskiy also discussed kyiv’s proposals for a new EU sanctions package with Ukrainian officials, his office said.

In a video address on Saturday night, Zelenskiy renewed his call for a complete ban on Russian energy products and more weapons for Ukraine.

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The EU on Friday banned imports of Russian coal among other products, but has yet to touch oil and gas imports from Russia.


The rise in civilian casualties has prompted widespread international condemnation and new sanctions.

A grave with at least two civilian bodies was found in the Buzova village near kyiv, said Taras Didych, head of the Dmytrivka community that includes Buzova, the latest reported discovery since Russian forces withdrew from areas to the north. from the capital to concentrate on the east. from the country.

Sullivan said Sunday that he hoped the new Russian general overseeing Ukraine, Aleksandr Dvornikov, would authorize more brutality against the Ukrainian civilian population. He did not cite any evidence.

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Moscow has rejected accusations of war crimes by Ukraine and Western countries.

Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” its southern neighbor. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.

Russia’s invasion has forced about a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes, turned cities into rubble and killed or injured thousands.

The World Bank forecast on Sunday that the war would cause Ukraine’s economic output to collapse by a staggering 45% this year, with half its businesses closed, grain exports mostly disrupted by Russia’s naval blockade and the destruction that would make economic activity impossible in many areas.

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The bank forecast that Russia’s GDP would also contract by 11.2% this year due to harsh Western sanctions.

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Some cities in the east suffered heavy bombardment and tens of thousands of people were unable to evacuate.

Calls from Ukrainian authorities for civilians to flee became more urgent after a missile attack hit a train station on Friday in the Donetsk region city of Kramatorsk, which was packed with people trying to leave. .

Ukrainian officials said on Sunday that the death toll from the attack had risen to 57, while 109 were injured. Russia has denied responsibility, saying the missiles used in the attack were only used by the Ukrainian military.

Reuters was unable to verify details of the attack.

Residents of the Luhansk region would have nine trains on Sunday to leave, the region’s governor Serhiy Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging service.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 2,824 people were evacuated through humanitarian corridors on Sunday, including 213 from Mariupol, which has been under siege for weeks.

(Reuters Office Reporting Written by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, Michael Perry, Tomasz Janowski and David Lawder Edited by Robert Birsel, Frances Kerry and Matthew Lewis)



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