Russia relies on weapons that cause “heavy collateral damage,” say Ukraine and Britain
Zelenskyj calls for a new round of “even stronger” EU sanctions against Russia.
Officials deployed by the Kremlin have reportedly set up a company to sell Ukraine’s grain.
Ukrainians in the occupied southern territories handed out Russian passports.
Nearly 800 children were killed or injured in the war, Ukraine says.
Civilian killed in Odessa beach blast amid growing concerns over mines.
Ukrainian and British officials on Saturday warned that Russian forces are relying on weapons that can cause mass casualties as they try to make headway in capturing eastern Ukraine while fierce, protracted fighting is draining resources on both sides.
Russian bombers are likely to have fired heavy anti-ship missiles from the 1960s in Ukraine, the UK Ministry of Defense has said. The Kh-22 missiles were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers with a nuclear warhead; When used in ground attacks with conventional warheads, they are “highly inaccurate and can therefore cause serious collateral damage and casualties,” the ministry said.
Both sides have expended large amounts of arms in a grueling war of attrition – now in its 108th day – on the eastern region of coal mines and factories known as Donbass, straining their resources and stockpiles enormously.
Russia is deploying the 5.5-ton anti-ship missiles likely because of a lack of more accurate modern missiles, the UK ministry said. Where exactly such missiles are said to have been stationed was not disclosed.
While Russia also sought to consolidate its grip on territory captured so far in the war, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine “is what happens when oppressors trample on the rules that protect us all.” .
“That’s what happens when major powers decide their imperial appetites are more important than the rights of their peaceful neighbors,” Austin said during a visit to Asia. “And it’s a preview of a possible world of chaos and turmoil that none of us want to live in.”
Flamethrowers deployed in Luhansk, governor claims
A Ukrainian governor accused Russia of using incendiary weapons in a village in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk province, southwest of the fiercely contested cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.
While the use of flamethrowers on the battlefield is legal, Luhansk province governor Serhii Haidai claimed that the night attacks in Vrubivka caused widespread damage to civilian facilities and an unknown number of casualties.
“At night the enemy used a flamethrower missile system – many houses burned down,” Haidai wrote on Telegram on Saturday. The veracity of his claim could not be verified immediately.
Severodonetsk and neighboring Lysyhansk are the last major areas of Luhansk Province still under Ukrainian control. Haidai said the Russians destroyed railroad depots, a brick factory and a glass factory.
The Ukrainian army said on Saturday that Russian forces would also launch an offensive on the city of Sloviansk in Donetsk province. Donetsk and Luhansk together form the Donbass,
Moscow-backed rebels have controlled self-proclaimed republics in both provinces since 2014, and Russia is attempting to seize territory still in Ukrainian hands.
Zelenskyj is pushing for more EU sanctions against Russia
During a visit by the European Union’s top official to Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy called for a new round of “even stronger” EU sanctions against Russia.
Zelenskyy demanded that the new sanctions target more Russian officials, including judges, and hamper the activities of all Russian banks, including the bank of gas giant Gazprom, as well as all Russian companies that help Moscow “in any way”.
He spoke with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a brief press appearance at the President’s heavily guarded office compound in the Ukrainian capital. Von der Leyen was on her second visit to Ukraine since Russia invaded its neighbor.
The couple discussed Ukraine’s aspirations for EU membership. Zelenskyy, speaking through a translator, said Ukraine would “do everything” to integrate into the bloc.
“Russia wants to divide Europe, wants to weaken Europe,” he said.
Von der Leyen said the EU executive was working “day and night” on an assessment of Ukraine’s suitability as an EU candidate. The goal is to have the review ready by the end of next week to share with the 27 existing members of the block.
Zelenskyy and some EU supporters want Ukraine to join the EU quickly. Von der Leyen described the accession process as “a merit-based path” and called on Ukraine to strengthen its rule of law, fight corruption and modernize its institutions.
She praised Ukraine’s “strength and resilience” in the face of the “terrible and cruel” invasion by Russia and said the EU will help the country rebuild.
Russia creates companies to sell Ukrainian grain
Russian-installed officials in southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhia region have set up a company to buy up local grain and sell it on behalf of Moscow, a local official told Interfax news agency on Saturday.
Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of stealing Ukraine’s grain and causing a global food crisis that could leave millions dead from starvation.
Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the pro-Russian Zaporizhia Provisional Administration, said the new state-owned grain company has taken control of several plants.
He said: “The grain will be Russian” and “we don’t care who the buyer will be”.
It was not clear whether the peasants whose grain was being sold by Russia were being paid. Balitsky said his government would not seize grain by force or pressure producers to sell it.
The head of Ukraine’s presidential office accused the Russian military of shelling and burning grain fields before harvest. Andriy Yermak claimed that Moscow was “trying to repeat a Soviet-era famine” that claimed the lives of over three million Ukrainians in 1932-33.
“Our soldiers put out the fires, but [Russia’s] ‘Food terrorism’ must be stopped,” Yermak wrote on Telegram on Saturday.
The veracity of his and Balitsky’s claims could not be independently verified.
Russian passports for residents of Ukraine
Russian troops occupying parts of southern Ukraine began handing out Russian passports to local residents on Saturday.
In the Kherson region, 23 residents accepted Russian passports, including the new Moscow-installed governor, Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
“It’s a really historic moment for me. I always thought that we are one country and one people,” the news agency quoted Governor Volodymyr Saldo as saying.
According to the Russian state news agency TASS, Russian forces also began issuing passports in the occupied city of Melitopol. A Telegram post by TASS cited a local official installed in Russia as the original source of the information.
It was not specified how many residents had applied for or received Russian citizenship.
Melitopol is outside the Donbass in the Zaporizhia region, which is still partly held by Ukraine.
fatalities among children
Nearly 800 children have been killed or injured in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began, Ukrainian authorities said on Saturday.
At least 287 children died as a result of military activities, while at least 492 others were injured, according to a statement from the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine.
The statement stressed that the figures were not definitive and that they were based on investigations by juvenile prosecutors.
The office said children in Ukraine’s Donetsk province suffered the most, with 217 reported killed or injured, compared with 132 and 116 in Kharkiv and Kyiv regions, respectively.
Civilian killed in explosion on beach
Officials in the city of Odessa said Saturday a man was killed by a blast while visiting a Black Sea beach where mines are a growing problem.
The city council said by telegram that the man was there with his wife and son, despite warnings to stay away from beaches in the area. He tested the temperature and depth of the water when the explosion took place.
Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of laying mines in the Black Sea.