Russia slowed by Ukrainian defense, Western officials say: Live updates

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While Russian forces have continued to strike across Ukraine in its bid to seize Donbass after refocusing its resources, its progress has been slower than expected, according to Western officials.

A senior US defense official, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said Ukraine’s defensive efforts stalled Russia’s advance “by at least several days”.

“We also feel that because of this slow and uneven progress, again, without full knowledge of all aspects of the Russian plan, we believe and assess that they are behind in what they were trying to accomplish. in the Donbass,” the official said. mentioned.

The British military also said in a tweet on Friday: “Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian territorial gains were limited and achieved at significant cost to Russian forces.”

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Latest developments:

► Former US sailor Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, was killed while working for a military company that sent him to Ukraine, his family told Les actualites, making him the first known death of an American citizen while fighting in the war against Russia.

►A Russian missile strike targeting kyiv killed at least one person following a meeting between UN Secretary-General António Guterres and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who called the attack an attempt to “humiliate” UN Vira Hyrych, a journalist with US-funded radio Free Europe, died in the attack.

►The United Nations General Assembly will vote next month on a country to replace Russia on its human rights council after suspending the nation for its actions in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday that hundreds of civilians were found dead in an area near the Kyiv region, which includes towns like Bucha and Irpin.

In an interview with Polish media, Zelenskyy said a mass grave containing 900 bodies was discovered in the area by Ukrainian police.

“Imagine: so many civilians were killed that despite the fact that they (the Russian forces) burned [some of the corpses in mobile crematoria], another mass grave was discovered in the Kyiv region with the bodies of 900 civilians,” Zelenskyy said, according to the Ukrainian Pravda translation. “Nine hundred people! »

However, Zelenskyy’s spokesman Serhiy Nikiforov later clarified that the Ukrainian president had been mistaken about the size of the mass grave, although one was found in the Kyiv region on Friday.

“The 900 people are the approximate number of corpses found in this area,” Nikiforov said of the area outside Kyiv. “Intonationally, he has united two sentences into one, and that’s where the confusion comes from. »

Ukrainian police said on Thursday that some 1,150 civilian bodies had been found in the Kyiv region since February 24, Reuters reported. About 50-70% of them had gunshot wounds from small arms.

– She reads

The identity of a fighter pilot dubbed the ‘Ghost of kyiv’, whose solo conquests against Russian forces made the then-unnamed pilot a legend, was revealed on Friday – more than a month after he was allegedly been killed in action.

The pilot was identified as Major Stepan Tarabalka, 29, by British newspaper The Times. He was killed when the MiG-29 he was flying was shot down on March 13, The Times reported.

“Tarabalka” went to heaven “in an air battle against the overwhelming forces of the Russian invaders,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said, according to the Kyiv Post.

By some estimates, Tarabalka has shot down 40 Russian planes since February 24, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Kyiv Post and other Ukrainian media wrote.

‘Ghost of Kyiv’ killed in March, identity revealed (reports)

A fighter pilot dubbed the “Ghost of kyiv,” whose solo conquests against Russian forces made the then-unnamed pilot a legend, was reportedly killed in action last month.

The pilot was identified on Friday as Major Stepan Tarabalka, 29, by British newspaper The Times. He was killed when the MiG-29 he was flying was shot down on March 13, The Times reported.

“Tarabalka” went to heaven “in an air battle against the overwhelming forces of the Russian invaders,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said, according to the Kyiv Post.

Tarabalka is believed to have shot down 40 Russian planes since February 24, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Kyiv Post and other Ukrainian media wrote. His helmet and goggles are set to go up for auction in London soon, according to the Times.

MYTH DEBUNTED: Fact check: Claiming Sam Hyde is the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ is a hoax

On March 19, Zelenskyy posthumously awarded Tarabalka the Order of the Gold Star, Ukraine’s highest medal for gallantry in battle and the title Hero of Ukraine.

In March, Tarabalka’s family told – that Tarabalka grew up next to a military airfield in the village of Korolivka in western Ukraine. His mother, Nahtalia, said he used to watch MiGs go by, which inspired his career choice.

“Since his early childhood, he always dreamed of the sky, of flying higher than the clouds,” she told -.

– She reads

LVIV, Ukraine — Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow has evacuated more than a million people from Ukraine since the war began.

Sergey Lavrov’s remarks in an interview with Chinese state news agency Xinhua on Saturday come as Ukraine accused Moscow of forcibly expelling Ukrainians from the country. Lavrov said that figure included more than 300 Chinese civilians.

Lavrov did not provide any evidence to back up his claim during the interview.

Lavrov also said that negotiations were continuing between Russia and Ukraine “almost every day”. However, he warned that “progress has not been easy”.

Lavrov partly blamed “belligerent rhetoric and inflammatory actions by Western supporters of the kyiv regime” for disrupting the talks. However, Russian state television guests have suggested nightly that Moscow should use nuclear weapons in the conflict.

– Associated press

A matter of hours, not days: Mariupol residents ‘beg to be saved’

The situation in Mariupol, the Ukrainian port city besieged by Russian attacks, looks like a “Russian concentration camp among the ruins”, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

Residents and Ukrainian fighters remaining in Mariupol are under constant threat of attack and starvation as they resist in a huge steelworks. They lack food, water and medicine, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said Friday.

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Residents of the Avozstal Steelworks, the last stronghold still under Ukrainian control in the city, are protected to some extent by underground bunkers in the Soviet-era facility. But the Russians dropped “bunker buster” bombs, making the situation even more dire.

“Residents who manage to leave Mariupol say it’s hell, but when they leave this fortress they say it’s worse,” Boichenko said, according to a translator. “They are begging to be saved. »

He added: “It’s not a matter of days, it’s a matter of hours. »

Zelenskyy: Russia is trying to destroy the Donbass

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of trying to destroy Donbass and everyone who lives there.

“The constant brutal shelling, the constant Russian strikes on infrastructure and residential areas show that Russia wants to empty this territory of all people. Therefore, the defense of our land, the defense of our people, is literally a fight for life,” he said Friday night in his nightly video address to the nation.

Russia slowed by Ukrainian defense Western officials say Live updates

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He said that the towns and villages of Donbass would only survive if Ukraine remained standing.

“If the Russian invaders are able to carry out their plans, even partially, then they have enough artillery and planes to turn all of Donbass into stones. Like they did with Mariupol,” he said.

Ukrainians use cheap drones against Russian forces

Consumer-grade drones, which cost around $1,000 and modified to drop explosives on Russian troops and combat vehicles, took center stage in Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion.

Videos of these attacks are widely circulated on Twitter, proudly shared by Ukrainian fighters and their supporters. Unlike the fancy drones many militaries use, drones are widely available at stores like Best Buy, easily modified and hacked into lethal weapons.

And experts say these drones open a new front for war and terrorist attacks. Today, the Biden administration is stepping up efforts to protect national infrastructure from possible drone attacks. Read more on the use of drones in warfare and its implications in the United States

-Trevor Hughes

Contribute: The Associated Press

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