Russian rockets rain down on Ukrainian capital
Ukraine has acknowledged that it suffered heavy losses in Russia’s eastern assault, but claims that Russia’s losses are even worse.
It came as US President Joe Biden called on Congress to send up to $33 billion (A$46 billion) to help kyiv weather the attack.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed Biden’s aid offer, which is nearly 10 times the aid Washington has sent so far since the war began on Feb. 24.
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In kyiv, workers cleared rubble from a residential area after Russia fired two missiles at the capital.
After failing in an assault on kyiv in northern Ukraine last month, Russia is trying to fully seize two eastern provinces known as Donbass.
Ukraine has admitted losing control of some towns and villages since the assault began last week, but says Moscow’s gains have come at a heavy cost to a Russian force already depleted by its previous defeat near the capital .
“We have serious losses but the losses of the Russians are much greater (…) They have colossal losses,” presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Friday.
By pledging tens of billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, Biden has dramatically increased US involvement in the conflict.
The United States and its allies are now sending heavy weapons, including artillery, in an effort, according to Washington, not only to repel Russia’s attack, but to weaken its armed forces so that it does not can no longer threaten its neighbours.
“We need this bill to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom,” Biden said.
“The cost of this fight – it’s not cheap – but giving in to aggression will cost more.”
Zelenskiy tweeted: “Thank you @POTUS and the American people for their leadership in supporting Ukraine in our fight against Russian aggression. We stand for common values - democracy and freedom. We appreciate the help. Today , it is more than ever necessary!
Russia has said the arrival of Western weapons in Ukraine means it is now waging a “proxy war” against NATO.
President Vladimir Putin this week threatened unspecified reprisals, while his foreign minister warned of a threat of nuclear war.
Zelenskiy’s office said Russia was pounding the entire frontline in the eastern Donetsk region with rockets, artillery, mortar shells and aircraft.
The Ukrainian General Staff said Russia was shelling positions along the line of contact to prevent the Ukrainians from regrouping.
The bloodiest fighting and worst humanitarian disaster of the war took place in Mariupol, an eastern port reduced to desert by two months of Russian bombardment and siege.
Ukraine says 100,000 civilians are still in the city, which is mainly occupied by Russia. Hundreds of civilians are locked up with the last remaining defenders in underground bunkers under a huge steelworks.
Zelenskiy’s office said an operation was planned for Friday to get civilians out of the factory, without giving details.
In the capital, life has largely returned to normal after weeks in which residents were forced to take shelter from shelling in metro stations.
The front line, which reached the outskirts of Kyiv in March, is now hundreds of kilometers away. Foreign dignitaries came to pay their respects to Zelenskiy and his government.
But Russia can still hit the city with long-range missiles, as it did on Thursday during a visit by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to what Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov , called “an attack on the security of the Secretary-General and on global security”.
No one was killed but at least four people were injured in the missile attack in the capital, which blew out windows and scattered rubble across the streets.