Battle of Bakhmut rages on as Russian shelling elsewhere kills civilians – National

Russian shelling destroyed homes and killed one person in Ukraine’s northern Kharkiv province, the region’s governor said on Sunday, as fighting raged in the hotly contested eastern town of Bakhmut.

The city of Kupiansk is about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the Russian border; the area has come under frequent attack even though Russian ground forces withdrew from the area nearly six months ago. Governor Oleh Syniehubov said at least five houses were razed in the latest attack which left a 65-year-old man dead.

Two civilians were killed in the past day in Bakhmut, Donetsk province governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said. Russian forces spent months trying to capture the town as part of their offensive into eastern Ukraine, and the region saw some of the bloodiest ground fighting of the war.

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Battle for Bakhmut: Pressure mounts on Ukrainian troops as Russia closes in

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In recent days, Ukrainian units have destroyed two key bridges just outside Bakhmut, including one connecting it to the nearby town of Chasiv Yar along the last remaining Ukrainian supply route, according to British military intelligence officials and other Western analysts.

Associated Press reporters near Bakhmut saw a pontoon bridge put up by Ukrainian soldiers on Saturday to help the few remaining residents reach the nearby village of Khromove. Later, the AP team saw at least five houses on fire following attacks in Khromove, a nearby settlement.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, assessed last week that kyiv’s actions could signal an imminent withdrawal from parts of the city. He said Ukrainian troops could “carry out a limited and controlled withdrawal from particularly difficult sections of eastern Bakhmut”, while seeking to inhibit Russian movement there and limit exit routes to the west.

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Ukrainian towns Chasiv Yar and Bakhmut fill with flames and smoke as Russian attack intensifies

Capturing Bakhmut would not only give Russian fighters a rare gain on the battlefield after months of setbacks, but could sever Ukraine’s supply lines and allow Kremlin forces to move on to other Ukrainian strongholds in Donetsk province.

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In southern Ukraine, a woman and two children were killed in a residential building in the village of Poniativka, Kherson region, the Ukrainian president’s office reported. A Russian artillery shell hit a car in Burdarky, another village in Kharkiv province, killing a man and his wife, the regional prosecutor’s office said.

Casualties have increased since an attack earlier in the week. Ukrainian emergency services reported on Sunday that the death toll from a Russian missile strike that hit a five-story building in southern Ukraine on Thursday has risen to 13.

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One of the few areas where Russia and Ukraine cooperated during the war is in grain shipments. On that front, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday that his country was engaged in “intense efforts” to extend a deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports. .

The agreement, brokered by the UN and Turkey in July 2022 and extended for four months in November, is due to expire on March 18.

In a speech at the opening of the United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Doha, Qatar, Cavusoglu said he had discussed another extension with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. .

The deal, which also allows Russia to export food and fertilizer, has helped temper rising global food prices. However, Russian officials have complained that fertilizer shipments from the country were not being facilitated under the deal, leaving renewal of the deal in question.

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