- American Blinken worries about China’s alignment with Moscow
- Governors of Lugansk and Donetsk report fighting and strikes
- Canada returns Russian gas turbine over Ukrainian objections
- Zelenskiy fires several ambassadors without explanation
KYIV, July 9 (Reuters) – Ukrainian defenders fought on Saturday to contain Russian forces on multiple fronts, officials said, as the United States urged China to align itself with the West to oppose to the invasion following a moody G20 meeting.
A missile strike on the northeastern city of Kharkiv injured three civilians, its governor said, although Russia’s main attacks appear to be concentrated southeast of there in Luhansk and Donetsk.
These two provinces, parts of which were held by pro-Russian separatists before the conflict began in February, include the eastern industrial region of Donbass.
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Ukrainian officials reported strikes in both countries on Saturday, while the British Ministry of Defense said Moscow was gathering reserve forces from across Russia near Ukraine. Read more
Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on the Telegram messaging service that a Russian missile hit Druzhkivka, a town behind the front line, and reported shelling other population centers.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Telegram that Russian forces were “firing along the entire front line”, although a subsequent Ukrainian counterattack that hit arms and ammunition stores forced Moscow to stop his offensive.
Russia, which claimed control of the entire Lugansk province last weekend, denies targeting civilians.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has fired several top Kyiv ambassadors abroad. Read more
In a decree posted on the presidential website, Zelenskiy gave no reason to fire ambassadors to Germany, India, the Czech Republic, Norway and Hungary.
Zelenskiy urged his diplomats to mobilize international support and high-end weapons to slow Russia’s advance.
US President Joe Biden on Friday signed an arms package for Ukraine worth up to $400 million, including four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). Read more
But Ukraine suffered a diplomatic setback on Saturday, when Canada said it would return a repaired turbine that Russian state-controlled Gazprom was using to supply natural gas to Germany. Ukraine had argued that a return would violate sanctions against Russia. Read more
On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the international community to join forces in condemning Russian aggression, told reporters that he had raised concerns with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the alignment of Beijing with Moscow. Read more
The two men had more than five hours of talks on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali. On Friday, Russian Sergei Lavrov left a meeting there, denouncing the West for its “frenzied criticism”.
China’s Foreign Ministry said, without giving details, that Wang and Blinken discussed “the Ukraine issue”.
He also quoted Wang as saying that China-US relations were in danger of being further “misguided”, with many people believing that “the United States is suffering from an increasingly severe bout of ‘Chinaphobia'”.
Shortly before the Russian invasion, Beijing and Moscow announced a ‘limitless’ partnership, although US officials said they had not seen China evade US sanctions against Russia or supply it with equipment military.
Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synehubov said on Telegram that apart from the missile strike, the fighters repelled two Russian attacks near Dementiivka, a town between the city and the border with Russia.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces struck two “foreign mercenary bases deployed near Kharkiv”.
Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov also said troops had destroyed ammunition depots in the Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk regions.
Russian-backed forces in the territory of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said three people had died and 17 were injured in the past 24 hours as Ukrainian forces shelled 10 sites.
Alexei Kulemzin, mayor of Donetsk, wrote on Telegram that two women had died following a shelling in the city’s Kirovskyi district.
Reuters could not independently verify the Battlefield accounts.
PLEA FOR SANCTIONS
After Friday’s tense G20 exchanges, President Vladimir Putin also signaled that the Kremlin was in no mood to compromise, saying sanctions on Russia risked “catastrophic” oil price hikes. ‘energy. Read more
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Saturday the sanctions were working and echoed calls for more deliveries of high-precision Western weapons.
“The Russians are desperately trying to lift these sanctions, which proves that they are hurting them. Therefore, the sanctions must be tightened until Putin abandons his aggressive plans,” Kuleba told a forum in Dubrovnik via video link.
Since Russia, which also seized much of southern Ukraine, launched what it calls a ‘special operation’ to demilitarize Ukraine, towns have been burned to the ground , thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced.
Ukraine and its Western allies say Russia is engaged in an unprovoked land grab.
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Reporting from Reuters offices Writing by John Stonestreet and Andy Sullivan Editing by Frances Kerry and Lisa Shumaker
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