Russian forces are intensifying attacks in eastern Ukraine as they try to break down stubborn Ukrainian defenses — which Ukrainian officials admit are outnumbered and outgunned.
Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine:
- Russian bombardment: Ukraine's armed forces on Thursday acknowledged that Russian troops have made further advances in the eastern Donetsk region — capturing one district within 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) of the important town of Bakhmut. Ukrainian officials say that in recent days, the Russians have combined short-range ballistic missiles, multiple-launch rocket systems, heavy artillery and tanks in a remorseless bombardment of towns and cities in Luhansk and Donetsk regions still under Ukrainian control. Several officials describe the situation as "very difficult" and admit Ukrainian units may have to fall back in some places.
- Deadly attacks: Nine people were killed and 19 others injured in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Thursday amid "dense shelling" of residential areas, according to a Ukrainian military official. Ukrainian forces were "holding their positions firmly and there is no question about possible seizure of Kharkiv city," the official said.
- Removed to Russia: Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been processed through a series of Russian "filtration camps" in eastern Ukraine and sent into Russia as part of a systemized program of forced removal, according to four sources familiar with the latest Western intelligence — an estimate far higher than US officials have publicly disclosed.
- Genocide claims: Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine reflect "an obvious policy of genocide," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday. "The current offensive of the occupiers in Donbas can make the region uninhabited," he said.
- US weapons supplies: The Biden administration is preparing to step up the kind of weaponry it is offering Ukraine by sending advanced, long-range rocket systems that are now the top request from Ukrainian officials, multiple officials say. The White House is leaning toward sending the systems as part of a larger package of military and security assistance, which could be announced as soon as next week.
- War crimes trial: Two captured Russian soldiers pleaded guilty in a court in central Ukraine on Thursday to "violating laws and customs of war conducted with preliminary group conspiracy." Oleksandr Bobykin and Oleksandr Ivanov are accused of firing rockets from Russia’s Belgorod region toward Kharkiv on Feb. 24.
- Oil price spikes: Brent crude oil climbed on Thursday to more than $117 a barrel — the highest level since late March — signaling more pain for drivers. Investors are watching nervously as European officials attempt to reach an agreement on phasing out Russian oil, a step that would further scramble energy flows.
- Germany's gas pledge: Germany is working "flat out" to end its reliance on Russian gas imports, the country's Chancellor said Thursday, adding there was "no doubt" that both Berlin and the EU would end their dependence on energy imports from Moscow.