Live Updates | Russia focuses on Donetsk, Luhansk regions

KYIV, Ukraine – The Ukrainian military’s General Staff said Tuesday that Russian forces are focusing their efforts on taking full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east.

It noted that a “new phase of war” began Monday when “the occupiers made an attempt to break through our defenses along nearly the entire frontline in the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions.”

It said in a statement issued early Tuesday that “the Russian military has continued to blockade and shell Mariupol and to deal missile strikes on other cities.”

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

– Zelenskyy says Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine has begun

– Yellen to see Ukraine PM, avoid Russians at global meetings

– Global finance meeting focuses on war-driven food insecurity

Syrian fighters ready to join Russia for next phase of Ukraine war

Follow all AP stories on Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

KVIV, Ukraine – A Ukrainian military official said street battles have begun and evacuation is impossible in the town of Kreminna. That’s one of only two spots where the Ukrainians said the Russians managed to break through on Monday along a front stretching for hundreds of miles.

Luhansk regional military administrator Serhiy Haidai said the town came under heavy artillery overnight, setting seven residential buildings on fire, and that the Olympus sports complex, where the nation’s Olympic team trains, was targeted.

Haidai later said on Ukrainian TV that Russians took control of the city after “leveling everything to the ground,” so his guys retreated to regroup and keep on fighting. “It simply makes no sense to stand in one place, to die for everyone, without causing significant damage to the enemy,” he said.

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KVIV, Ukraine – Russian forces are attacking along a broad front, over 300 miles (480 kilometers) long, Ukrainian officials said Monday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces were increasing assaults in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions – both of which are part of the Donbas – as well as in the area of ​​Zaporizhzhia, they said.

“The occupiers attempted to break through our defenses,” said Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security council. “Fortunately, our military is holding out. They passed through only two cities – this is Kreminna and another small town. ”

He added: “We are not giving up any of our territories.”

Russia also bombarded the relative safe haven of Lviv and a multitude of other targets across Ukraine in what appeared to be an intensified bid to grind down the country’s defenses.

Moscow said its missiles struck more than 20 military targets, including ammunition depots, command headquarters and groups of troops and vehicles, while its artillery hit an additional 315 targets and its warplanes conducted 108 strikes. The claims could not be independently verified.

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KVIV, Ukraine – Russia has begun dropping bunker-buster bombs on a Mariupol steel plant where Ukrainians are refusing to surrender, the commander of the Azov Regiment of the National Guard said Monday.

Denys Prokopenko, whose soldiers have been holding out against Russian forces in the key southern port city, said in a video message that the bombs are dropping even though civilians are sheltering in the plant’s tunnels.

“Russian occupational forces, and their proxy… know about the civilians, and they keep willingly firing on the factory,” he said.

Russia estimated that 2,500 Ukrainian troops and about 400 foreign mercenaries were dug in. The US said nearly a dozen Russian battalion tactical groups have been tied up trying to defeat them.

The head of the city’s patrol police, Mikhail Vershinin, told Mariupol television on Sunday that many civilians including children are hiding in the plant, seeking shelter from Russian shelling and forces occupying other parts of the city.

Ukraine estimates that 21,000 people have been killed in Mariupol. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk warned Russia on social media that refusing to open humanitarian corridors will justify war crimes trials. The Russians, for their part, said “neo-Nazi nationalists” have hampered evacuations.

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