- Fighting erupts in eastern and southern Ukraine
- Russia says U.S. not showing ‘constructive’ approach to war
- EU, G7 meet on Monday, could impose more sanctions on Russia
- Zelensky had phone calls with US, French, Turkish leaders
KYIV, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Russian forces bombarded targets in eastern and southern Ukraine with missiles, drones and artillery, while hundreds of soldiers were killed after further strikes on critical infrastructure, the Ukrainian General Staff said on Monday. Thousands of people remain without power in sub-zero temperatures.
In a series of weekend diplomacy, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy held talks with the leaders of the United States, France and Turkey ahead of a G7 and European Union meeting planned for Monday. Talks, these meetings may agree to further sanctions against Russia.
There are no peace talks and no end in sight for Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War II, with Moscow describing it as a “special military operation” and Ukraine and its allies calling it an unprovoked act of aggression.
Russia has yet to see a “constructive” approach from the United States on the conflict in Ukraine, RIA Novosti quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin as saying on Monday. The two countries have engaged in a series of contacts in Turkey.
The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden told Zelensky in a phone call on Sunday that Washington was prioritizing strengthening Ukraine’s air defenses. Zelensky said he appreciated Biden’s “unprecedented defense and financial” help from the United States.
In Ukraine, the Black Sea port of Odessa resumed on Monday operations suspended after Russia attacked two energy facilities Saturday using Iranian-made drones. Power is slowly being restored to about 1.5 million people, but the situation remains difficult, national grid operator Ukrenergo said in a statement on Monday.
Other regions with “very difficult” access to electricity included the capital Kiev and the Kiev region as well as four regions in western Ukraine and the Dnipropetrovsk region in the center of the country, Zelensky said.
The Kiev regional government said 14 settlements there remained without electricity and another 37 settlements were partially without electricity.
As of Monday, there were no reports of new strikes or power outages.
U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths arrived in Ukraine on Monday to understand “the impact of the humanitarian response and new challenges posed by increased damage to infrastructure amid frigid winter temperatures,” his office said.
Ukraine’s General Staff said in its daily update on the military situation that its forces had repelled Russian attacks on four settlements in the East Donetsk region and eight in the neighboring Lugansk region.
Russia continued its attacks on Bakhmut, Avdivka, and Lyman, which is now largely in ruins, and launched two missile attacks on civilian infrastructure in Kostyanivka, which were In the Donetsk region – one of four infrastructures that Moscow claimed to annex from Ukraine “after the referendum” was outlawed by Kiev.
Ukraine says Russian troops have suffered heavy losses in brutal fighting on the Eastern Front, which has also taken a toll on its own troops.
“Sometimes there are a lot of serious injuries: four or five amputations at a time,” Oleksii, a 35-year-old military doctor who declined to give his full name, told Reuters at a military hospital in eastern Ukraine.
Elsewhere, Russian forces used rocket salvo systems to launch more than 60 attacks on civilian infrastructure in Kherson, the southern city liberated last month by Ukrainian troops, which are also based, the General Staff said there.
Russia also shelled settlements along the Zaporizhia front in south-central Ukraine, while Ukrainian forces struck Russian control points, arsenals and other targets, it said.
Reuters could not independently verify the Battlefield accounts.
On the diplomatic front, EU foreign ministers will discuss a ninth set of sanctions against Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, adding nearly 200 individuals and entities to the EU’s sanctions list.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he hoped to reach an agreement on the package later on Monday or on Tuesday. Ministers will also discuss an additional 2 billion euros ($2.11 billion) worth of arms shipments to Ukraine.
Separately, German Chancellor Olaf Schulz will hold an online meeting with other G7 leaders on the situation in Ukraine, which Zelensky will also attend. Scholz will hold a press conference after 1630 GMT.
“We’ve been working with our partners,” Zelenskiy said Sunday after speaking with Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Erdogan, adding that he expected an upcoming international meeting on Ukraine to yield some gains. “Important results”.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that Washington’s military and economic support for Ukraine — more than $50 billion — will continue “as long as needed,” and reiterated that ending the war is the best thing the U.S. can do for the global economy.
Zelensky said he had had “very concrete” talks with Erdogan about securing Ukraine’s food exports.
Turkey served as a mediator in peace talks in the early months of the war and also worked with the United Nations on a food deal that opened Ukrainian export ports in July after Russia imposed a six-month de facto blockade.
Erdogan’s office said the Turkish leader also had a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, in which he called for an end to the conflict as soon as possible.
Putin said last week that Moscow’s almost total loss of trust in the West would make it more difficult to finally resolve the Ukraine issue, and warned of the risk of a protracted war.
(This story has been corrected to fix Scholz’s name as Olaf, not Otto, in paragraph 20.)
Additional reporting by Ronald Popeski in Winnipeg, Canada; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Philippa Fletcher
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