As Russia shifts its focus to eastern Ukraine in an effort to control the Donbas region, more Western countries have pledged to send artillery to support Ukraine’s defense.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly called on international leaders to send more military aid, adding that his country would require billions in assistance every month to offset economic losses since the start of Russia’s invasion, and hundreds of billions to rebuild its infrastructure.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron said the country is sending anti-tank missiles and howitzers. I have told French newspaper West France this week that France would continue to support Ukraine as much as it can without entering into direct conflict.
Canada is also pledging weapons to help Ukraine, and recently delivered four M-777 howitzers, CBCNews reported Friday, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier this week he would send “heavy artillery.”
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden announced additional military aid for Ukraine on Thursday totaling about $800 million, matching the same amount designated last week. Zelenskyy said it was “just what we were waiting for.”
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►The Pentagon says US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will convene a meeting next week in Germany of defense officials and military leaders from more than 20 countries to discuss Ukraine’s immediate and long-term defense needs.
►The Russian Defense Ministry said Friday that one serviceman died, 27 more went missing and 396 were rescued after a fire on the storied Russian warship Moskva last week.
►The UN’s human rights office said its investigators had documented at least 50 civilian deaths, including by summary execution, in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
► The Moldovan government strongly criticized comments Friday by a Russian military official suggesting that Russia’s forces are aiming to take control of not just eastern Ukraine but southern Ukraine as well, creating “another way” to the region of Transnistria in Moldova.
A second mass grave was found outside the besieged port city Mariupol, its city council said Friday. The council shared a satellite photo by Planet Labs to Telegram of what it described as a mass grave in the village of Vynohradne, which is east of Mariupol.
The grave is at least 45 meters by 25 meters, or about 147 feet by 82 feet, and could hold the bodies of at least 1,000 Mariupol residents, the city officials said.
“We will see more and more such serious,” Mariupol Major Vadim Boychenko said in the statement. “This is the greatest genocide in Europe since the Holocaust.”
Earlier this week, satellite photos from Maxar Technologies revealed what appeared to be rows upon rows of more than 200 freshly dug mass graves in the town of Manhush, located to the west of Mariupol. The mayor and city council said that site may hold as many as 9,000 civilians. The discovery of mass graves has led to accusations that the Russians are trying to conceal the slaughter of civilians in the city.
– Ella Lee, Jeanine Santucci and Associated Press
At least three civilians died and seven more were injured in shelling attacks in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine on Friday, as Russian forces continue to roll into the country’s industrial east, the governor of the region said in a Telegram post.
Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko blamed the deaths of “three more peaceful residents” in a small town and two villages on Russian shelling.
Also on Friday, the local prosecutor’s office in the northeastern region of Kharkiv said that charred bodies of two residents were discovered near the city of Izyum that same day. The post accused Russian soldiers of torturing the residents and burning their bodies.
Humanitarian corridors deemed unsafe
A top Ukrainian official said humanitarian corridors would not be open Friday because they were not safe. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk asked people awaiting evacuation from war zones to “be patient” and “hang in there.”
Vereshchuk said Russian forces offered to open a corridor for military surrender but not for an estimated 1,000 civilians sheltering at a steel mill that is the last Ukrainian stronghold in besieged southern city of Mariupol.
Corridors were closed to Ukrainians hoping to evacuate for several days over the last week. Humanitarian corridors, agreed-upon zones of ceasefire to allow civilians safe passage, have been lifelines for many people still in areas of heavy fighting. But Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of ignoring the agreed-upon corridors and continuing dangerous shelling along the routes.
Contributing: The Associated Press
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism