Russian armoured column destroyed by Ukrainian forces

Kyiv pushes Moscow troops from Kharkiv and controls land to Siverskyi Donets river

Kharkiv’s aviation plant building shelled when Russian troops were closeby: Ukrainian troops have recaptured the city and villages north and northeast of it. Photograph: Sergey Kozlov

Kharkiv’s aviation plant building shelled when Russian troops were closeby: Ukrainian troops have recaptured the city and villages north and northeast of it. Photograph: Sergey Kozlov

 

Ukrainian forces destroyed parts of a Russian armoured column as it tried to cross a river in the Donbas region, video from Ukraine’s military showed on Friday, as Moscow appeared to be refocusing its assault in the east.

Ukraine has driven Russian troops away from the second-largest city of Kharkiv in the fastest advance since Kremlin forces pulled away from Kyiv and the northeast over a month ago, although Moscow is still bombarding villages north of Kharkiv.

The city, which had been under fierce bombardment, has been quiet for at least two weeks and Reuters journalists have confirmed Ukraine now controls territory stretching to the Siverskyi Donets river, about 40km (25 miles) to the east.

Some 10km north of the city, firefighters doused smouldering wreckage in Dergachi after what local officials said was an overnight Russian missile attack on the House of Culture, used to distribute aid. Volunteers inside were trying to salvage packages of baby diapers and formula.

“I can’t call it anything but a terrorist act,” the mayor, Vyacheslav Zadorenko, said. “They wanted to hit the base where we store provisions and create a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Russia, which denies targeting civilians, said its forces had shot down a Ukrainian SU27 aircraft in the Kharkiv region and disabled the Kremenchuk oil refinery in central Ukraine.

Deportation of minors

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin spoke by telephone to his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on Friday and called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine.

It was the first time since the invasion that the two men had spoken. Mr Austin stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication, the Pentagon spokesman said.

Ukraine accused Russia of forcibly deporting more than 210,000 children since its invasion, saying they were among 1.2 million Ukrainians transferred against their will. The Kremlin says people have come to Russia to escape fighting.

In the southern port of Mariupol, Russian forces intensified their bombardment of the Azovstal steelworks, the last bastion of Ukrainian defenders in a city almost completely controlled by Russia after a siege of more than two months.

Some of the civilians evacuated recently from tunnels under the plant where they had taken shelter described terrifying conditions.

“Every second was hellish,” said 51-year-old nurse Valentyna Demyanchuk.

Deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk told 1+1 television negotiations were under way for the evacuation of wounded troops.

Renewed fighting around Snake Island in recent days could help Ukraine resume grain exports vital to world supplies, some of which are now being shipped by rail.

Grain supplies

“There are 25 million tonnes of grain currently blocked in the Ukrainian port of Odesa, which means food for millions of people in the world that is urgently needed,” German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said.

Ukraine said it had damaged a Russian navy logistics ship near Snake Island, an outpost that Ukrainian military intelligence said allows control of civilian shipping. Russia’s defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Satellite imagery from Maxar, a private US-based company, showed the aftermath of what it said were probable missile attacks on a Russian landing craft near the island, which became famous for its Ukrainian defenders’ expletive-filled defiance early in the war.

In Germany, foreign ministers from the G7 group of rich nations met to discuss a planned EU embargo on Russian oil as well as fears the conflict could spill over into Moldova. The ministers backed giving more aid and weapons to Ukraine.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced a further €500m worth of military support that should be approved next week by EU members, and expressed confidence that the bloc would agree an embargo on Russian oil.

British foreign minister Liz Truss announced new sanctions targeting Russian president Vladimir Putin’s financial network and inner circle, including his ex-wife and cousins. – Reuters