Ukraine repulses attacks in east as Russia presses to control Mariupol

The Russian invasion the most serious conflict in Europe since the Balkans wars of the 1990s has left a trail of death of destruction that has drawn condemnation from Western countries and triggered concern about Putin’s broader ambitions.

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LVIV: Ukrainian troops have repulsed several Russian assaults in the country’s east, British intelligence said on Monday, while President Volodymyr Zelensky said thousands of Russian soldiers were massing for a new offensive.

Russian forces were also pushing to establish control over the southern port city of Mariupol, the lynchpin between Russian-held areas to the west and east.

“There are tens of thousands of dead, but even despite this, the Russians are not stopping their offensive,” Zelensky told South Korea’s parliament by videolink.

Reuters could not verify the accuracy of his estimate.

The Russian invasion — the most serious conflict in Europe since the Balkans wars of the 1990s — has left a trail of death of destruction that has drawn condemnation from Western countries and triggered concern about Putin’s broader ambitions.

About a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million population have been forced from their homes, cities turned into rubble, and thousands of people have been killed or injured — many of them civilians.

Austrian leader Karl Nehammer planned to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday and will call for an end to the conflict. It would be Putin’s first face-to-face meeting with a European Union leader since Russia’s invasion started on Feb. 24.

Russian forces have abandoned their attempt to capture the capital Kyiv, for now at least, but are redoubling their efforts in Ukraine’s east. Britain’s defense ministry said Russian shelling continued in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

But Ukrainian forces had beaten back several assaults and destroyed Russian tanks, vehicles and artillery equipment, it said in its regular intelligence bulletin.

Powerful explosions rocked cities in the south and east and air raid sirens blared out across Ukraine early on Monday. “We will answer”

Zelensky kept up his campaign to generate international support and rally his countrymen, warning the coming week would be important.

“Russian troops will move to even larger operations in the east of our state. They may use even more missiles against us, even more air bombs. But we are preparing for their actions. We will answer,” he said in a late night video address.

Addressing South Korea’s parliament, he said Russia was concentrating tens of thousands of soldiers for the next offensive. He asked Seoul for any military aid it could provide.

Since Russia invaded, Zelensky has appealed to Western powers to provide more defense help, and to punish Moscow with tougher sanctions including embargoes on its energy exports.

Zelensky also said Mariupol has been destroyed. Reuters journalists on Sunday saw several Russian tanks heading down a highway in the direction of the city.

The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said it was likely the Russians would try to disrupt supply lines and strike at transport infrastructure.

Russia’s defense ministry said high-precision missiles had destroyed the headquarters of Ukraine’s Dnipro battalion in the town of Zvonetsky.

In a later statement, the ministry said Russian sea-launched missiles had on Sunday destroyed S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems which had been supplied to Ukraine by a European country. They systems were concealed in a hangar on the outskirts of Dnipro in central Ukraine, it said.

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