Live Updates | Germany confirms arms supply to Ukraine
BERLIN — Germany’s defense minister confirmed on Friday that his country will supply Ukraine with seven powerful self-propelled howitzers to help it defend against Russia.
Christine Lambrecht said Ukrainian soldiers will be trained in Germany to use the Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled artillery, which is capable of firing precision munitions at a distance of up to 40 kilometers (25 miles).
Germany has stepped up its material support for Ukraine in recent weeks after the government’s initial reluctance to supply heavy weapons drew widespread criticism.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz is due to address the nation on Sunday on the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. The defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allies 77 years ago is increasingly described as a day of liberation in the country. Scholz’s speech is expected to outline his government’s position on the war in Ukraine.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR:
— Defenders of Ukrainian steelworks refuse to surrender
— AP interview: Belarus admits Russia’s war ‘draws on’
— Jill Biden to meet Ukrainian refugees during border visit
— US says superyacht owned by Russian oligarch seized in Fiji
Follow all AP stories on Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
LVIV, Ukraine — The British military believe Russia wants to take the port city of Mariupol and its sprawling steelworks before marking VE Day on Monday.
The UK Ministry of Defense made the comment in a daily intelligence briefing it does on Twitter.
The Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol was the scene of weeks of fighting. It has an extensive network of underground bomb shelters protecting fighters and civilians from Russian bombardment, although the site has been repeatedly hit by explosive bombs.
The British military said: “Russia’s renewed effort to secure Azovstal and complete the capture of Mariupol is likely linked to the upcoming May 9 VE Day commemorations and Putin’s desire for symbolic success in Ukraine.
He added: “This effort has cost Russia personnel, equipment and ammunition. As Ukrainian resistance continues in Azovstal, Russian casualties will continue to build and frustrate their operational plans in southern Donbass.
Victory Day marks the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in World War II.
LVIV, Ukraine – There are growing suggestions that Ukraine may be trying to expand its efforts to seize more territory from Russia outside of Kharkiv, its second-largest city.
Ukraine’s defense chief, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said on Thursday that a counteroffensive could begin to draw Russian forces away from Kharkiv and Izyum, which has been a key node in Russian control of the region.
In recent days, Ukraine has pushed Russia some 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Kharkiv, which has been repeatedly hit by Russian shelling.
Pushing back the Russians further could spare the city from further artillery strikes, as well as force Moscow to divert troops from other areas of the front line to maintain its grip on the territory.
LVIV, Ukraine – The Ukrainian military says Russian efforts to seize the Mariupol steel plant are continuing.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine issued a statement on Friday saying that “the blockade of units of the Defense Forces in the Azovstal region continues”.
He added: “In some areas, with air support, resumption of assault operations to take control of the plant.”
Elsewhere in the country, the Ukrainian military said Russian forces were conducting territorial surveillance flights. In the hard-hit regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, the Ukrainian army said it repelled 11 enemy attacks and destroyed tanks and armored vehicles. There was no immediate recognition of these losses by Russia.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says the majority of Russian forces that were around the port city of Mariupol departed and headed north, leaving roughly the equivalent of two battalion tactical groups there, or about 2,000 troops.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that even though Russian airstrikes continue to bombard Mariupol, forces in Moscow are still making only “heavy” and incremental progress as the main battle continues in the region. eastern Donbass.
He said he saw no change in Russian behavior or momentum as May 9 approached.
Russia celebrates Victory Day on May 9, the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat by Nazi Germany in World War II. It has been suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to tout a major victory in Ukraine when he delivers his speech at the traditional military parade in Red Square.
Kirby said the United States still believes Russia is behind the times and not making the progress in Donbass it expected.
MARIUPOL, Ukraine – A clearing operation took place in central Mariupol even as Ukrainian fighters resisted Russian troops at the city’s pulverized steelworks. The rest of the city is now under Russian control.
City workers, along with volunteers, were seen Thursday cleaning up debris near gutted and charred buildings, including the drama theater where hundreds of people died when the Russian military shelled it in March. Some workers hung a Russian flag on a large electric pole.
A volunteer, who gave only his first name, Denis, said he helps restore parks and war memorials so the city can celebrate VE Day on Monday. Russia celebrates victory over Nazi Germany in World War II on May 9.
KYIV, Ukraine — In his late night video address Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described a “catastrophic” lack of access to medical services and medicine in parts of the country under Russian occupation.
In those areas, he said, almost no treatment was available for people with cancer and where insulin for diabetics was hard to find or non-existent. He said antibiotics were in short supply.
Zelenskyy also said that during the war, the Russian military has already fired 2,014 missiles at Ukraine, while 2,682 flights of Russian combat aircraft have been recorded over Ukrainian skies. He said the destroyed or damaged infrastructure includes nearly 400 hospitals and other medical facilities.