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Russia Claims Advances near Chasiv Yar as Ukraine Hails New Aid

Russia Claims Advances near Chasiv Yar as Ukraine Hails New Aid

Sunday, 21 April 2024 12:43 PM EDT

Russia said Sunday its forces had gained territory near the key battleground town of Chasiv Yar in east Ukraine, highlighting the pressure facing Kyiv as it gears up to receive $61 billion in new US aid.

After months of partisan infighting, the United States House of Representatives finally approved the major package in a vote Saturday, giving a morale boost to Ukrainian forces on the defensive.

Russia said Sunday it had taken control of Bogdanivka, a small frontline village less than three kilometres (two miles) northeast of Chasiv Yar.

"Units of the southern grouping of troops have completely liberated the settlement of Bogdanivka," Moscow's defence ministry said.

Chasiv Yar, which had a pre-war population of about 13,000, has been largely destroyed by fighting and most of its residents have fled.

The Kremlin has sought to play down the impact of the new US aid, arguing it would only deepen Washington's "immersion" in the war.

"Feverish attempts aimed at saving (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky's neo-Nazi regime are doomed to failure," Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

- 'Save our lives' -

Analysts have warned it will take time for Kyiv to feel the benefit of the aid package, which includes $14 billion to train and equip the Ukrainian army.

The bill still needs to pass the Senate and be signed off by US President Joe Biden, and only then can the lengthy process of transporting it to the war-torn country begin.

This "will likely mean that new US assistance will not begin to affect the situation on the front line for several weeks," the Institute for the Study of War said in an assessment.

Zelensky urged the United States to ensure it is delivered quickly.

"It is very important for us to have a prompt decision of the Senate in support of the Ukrainian package," he said in a social media post Sunday.

But most residents in Kyiv were relieved help was on its way.

"It will help a lot," 50-year-old nurse Oksana told AFP in the capital.

"The most important thing is to have something to defend ourselves with. Both civilians and our guys. It will save our lives," she said.

- 'Bad day' for Russia -

As Russia claimed advances on the ground, Kyiv said it had attacked a Russian salvage ship in the Black Sea, where its forces have had more success.

Kyiv has often flexed its ability to target and destroy boats in Russia's navy, attacks that have humiliated the Kremlin and forced it to move ships away from the annexed Crimean peninsula.

"Another bad day for the Russian Black Sea Fleet," Ukraine's defence ministry said, announcing its navy had attacked the "Kommuna" salvage ship.

The Russian navy used the ship for deep-sea work, including raising submarines and sunken cargo, and was one of the oldest in service, Ukraine said.

Ukrainian navy spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk said the damage caused by the attack was unclear but that the ship was "no longer capable of performing its tasks".

"This will continue to happen until the Russians run out of ships or leave Crimea," he said.

The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, did not confirm "Kommuna" was hit but said Moscow's military had "repelled an attack by an anti-ship missile" on a vessel at the port, and that falling debris had caused a fire.

Ukraine said Russia also struck its territory on Sunday, causing casualties.

Prosecutors said an 82-year-old woman was killed and four others injured during Russian shelling of Ukrainsk, a town in the eastern Donetsk region.

Russia separately "fired ballistic missiles" at the southern region of Odesa, injuring four others, local officials said.

© AFP 2024

Sunday, 21 April 2024 12:43 PM
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