Fighting rages in east Ukraine, West eyes more sanctions on Russia
In a flurry of weekend diplomacy, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke with the leaders of the United States, France and Turkey ahead of planned Group of Seven (G7) and EU meetings on Monday that could agree further sanctions on Russia.
There are no peace talks and no end in sight to the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two, which Moscow describes as a “special military operation” and Ukraine and its allies call an unprovoked act of aggression.
Russia does not yet see a “constructive” approach from the United States on the Ukraine conflict, RIA news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin as saying on Monday. The two countries have held a series of contacts in Turkey.
U.S. President Joe Biden told Zelenskiy during a call on Sunday that Washington was prioritising efforts to boost Ukraine’s air defences, the White House said. Zelenskiy said he had thanked Biden for the “unprecedented defence and financial” help the United States has provided.
On the ground in Ukraine, the Black Sea port of Odesa on Monday resumed operations that had been suspended after Russia used Iranian-made drones on Saturday to hit two energy facilities. Power is slowly being restored to some 1.5 million people, but the situation remains difficult, national grid operator Ukrenergo said in a statement on Monday.
Zelenskiy said other areas experiencing “very difficult” conditions with power supplies included the capital Kyiv and Kyiv region and four regions in western Ukraine and Dnipropetrovsk region in the centre of the country.
The Kyiv region administration said 14 settlements there still had no power and 37 more were partially without power.
There were no reports of fresh strikes or blackouts overnight into Monday.
United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths arrived in Ukraine on Monday to see “the impact of the humanitarian response and new challenges that have arisen as infrastructure damage mounts amid freezing winter temperatures”, his office said.
In its daily update on the military situation, Ukraine’s General Staff said its forces had repelled Russian assaults on four settlements in the eastern Donetsk region and on eight settlements in the adjacent Luhansk region.
Russia kept up its attacks on Bakhmut, which is now largely in ruins, Avdiivka, and Lyman, and launched ...