Russia’s war on Ukraine latest: Kyiv prepares to launch counteroffensive

(Reuters) – Russian forces attacked northern and southern stretches of the front in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region on Friday, pressing on with their offensive despite assertions from Kyiv that Moscow’s assault was flagging near the city of Bakhmut.


* Some 10,000 Ukrainian civilians, many elderly and with disabilities, are clinging on to existence in horrific circumstances in and around the besieged city of Bakhmut, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

* Russian missile strikes and shelling killed at least seven civilians in northern and eastern Ukraine, regional officials said, including at least three women at a civilian refuge.

* Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had destroyed a hangar housing drones belonging to Ukraine’s armed forces in the southwestern Odesa region of the country.

* Russia wants to create demilitarised buffer zones inside Ukraine around areas it has annexed, an ally of President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, saying it might be necessary to push deeper into Ukraine if such zones cannot be set up.

* Reuters could not immediately verify battlefield reports.


* Estonia’s foreign ministry said on Friday it had decided to expel a Russian diplomat working at Moscow’s embassy in Tallinn for “causing divisions in Estonian society”.

* The European Central Bank is pressing Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International RBIV.VI to unwind its highly profitable business in Russia, five people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

* Credit Suisse AG CSGN.S and UBS group AG UBSG.S are among banks under scrutiny in a U.S. Justice Department investigation into whether financial professionals helped Russian oligarchs evade sanctions, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.

* A Russian security officer who fled the country because he objected to the invasion of Ukraine has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in high-security prison, the news website reported on Friday.


* The world should listen to China’s position on the war in Ukraine to help reach a solution to the conflict, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in Brussels. Sanchez is set to visit Beijing next week for talks with President Xi Jinping.

* U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reassured members of Congress on Thursday that the billions of dollars approved for Ukraine should last for much of the year, and said measures were in place to ensure it is well spent.

* In a sharply worded video address to European Union leaders on Thursday, Zelenskiy said the war would drag on for years unless the 27-nation bloc provided weapons more quickly and imposed extra sanctions on Russia.


“All you see is people pushed to the very limits of their existence and survival and resilience,” the ICRC said of the civilians in Bakhmut.

“Drones are potentially a game-changer on the battlefield in the same way that precise Western MLRS became last year,” Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov told Reuters, referring to Multiple Launch Rocket System weapons.

(Compiled by Reuters editors)