The Russians attempt to advance into eastern Ukraine; the war at the G20 in the spotlight at the G20

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  • Governor reports fighting on Eastern Front
  • Ukraine renews its call to arms
  • Russian envoy offers little hope of withdrawal
  • Russian Embassy says US intends to prolong war
  • G20 ministers call for grain shipments

KYIV, July 9 (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces battled on Saturday to block Russian military advances in the eastern Donbas region, a provincial governor said, as Ukraine urged allies to send it more weapons .

Signaling that the Kremlin was in no mood to compromise, President Vladimir Putin said sanctions against Russia for the invasion launched in February risked causing “catastrophic” increases in energy prices. Read more

His top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, clashed with his Western counterparts at a G20 meeting in Indonesia, where they urged Russia to allow Ukraine to ship its blocked grain to an increasingly hungry world. Read more

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Russia’s envoy to Britain, meanwhile, offered little prospect of withdrawal from parts of Ukraine under Russian control.

Ambassador Andrei Kelin told Reuters that Russian troops would capture the rest of Donbass in eastern Ukraine and were unlikely to withdraw from the southern coast.

Ukraine will eventually have to strike a peace deal or “keep rolling down that hill” to ruin, he said. Read more

On the eastern front lines, Ukrainian officials reported heavy Russian shelling of towns and villages as Russian forces attacked from multiple directions.

“The Russians are firing on the entire front line,” Luhansk region governor Serhiy Gaidai said on the Telegram messaging system.

“The enemy is trying to advance from the settlements of the Luhansk region to the first villages of the Donetsk region.”

Russia says it wants to wrest control of all of Donbass, the eastern industrial heartland made up of the provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk, on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists in two self-proclaimed people’s republics.

After taking the city of Lysychansk last Sunday and effectively cementing control of Luhansk, Russia has made it clear that it plans to capture parts of the neighboring region.

Gaidai said Russian forces have not stopped after their recent advances to the east. “They are attacking and bombarding our lands with the same intensity as before.”

The Russians also seized much of the territory in southern Ukraine.

In the Russian-occupied parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the south, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has urged residents to evacuate before Ukrainian forces launch a counteroffensive.

“Please go – our army will begin to recapture these areas. Our resolve is unwavering,” Iryna Vereshchuk was quoted as saying by Ukrainian media.

Ukrainian media quoted military sources as saying 194 Russian soldiers had been “eliminated” in the south in the past 24 hours.

Reuters could not independently verify the Battlefield accounts.

‘PROLONG THE CONFLICT’

Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukraine’s chief negotiator in stalled talks with Moscow, said earlier the Russian military had been forced into an operational pause due to losses and resupply.

“It’s clear that they have to redeploy things, bring in new troops and new weaponry, and that’s very good. A certain turning point is starting to take shape because we’re proving that we’re going to attack storage facilities and command centers,” Podolyak told Ukrainian TV 24 Channel.

The British Ministry of Defense said in a regular bulletin that Russia was moving reserve forces from across the country and assembling them near Ukraine.

Ambassador Kelin’s remarks provided a glimpse of Russia’s potential endgame – a forced partition that would deprive its former Soviet neighbor of more than a fifth of its post-Soviet territory.

Ukrainian officials have said they need more high-quality Western weapons to bolster defenses.

US President Joe Biden on Friday signed a new arms package worth up to $400 million for Ukraine, including four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and more ammunition. Read more

Zelenskiy on Twitter thanked Biden for the HIMARS and shells, which he said were priority needs.

Commenting on the arms supply, the Russian Embassy in Washington said the United States wanted to “prolong the conflict at all costs” and compensate for Ukrainian military losses.

The United States began supplying the precision rocket weapon system to Ukraine last month after reassuring it would not use it to hit targets in Russia. Kyiv attributed the battlefield successes to the HIMARS.

At the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken led efforts to pressure Russia. He was meeting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday and was expected to repeat warnings to Beijing not to support Russia’s war.

On Friday, Lavrov walked out of a meeting, denouncing the West for its “frenzied criticism”.

One of the main concerns of the G20 is getting grain shipments from Ukraine through ports blocked by Russia’s presence in the Black Sea and mines. Ukraine is a major exporter and aid agencies warn that many developing countries face food shortages if supplies do not reach them.

Blinken urged Russia to let Ukrainian grain out, a Western official said.

Since Russia launched what it calls a special operation in February to demilitarize Ukraine, cities have been burned to the ground, thousands have been killed and millions displaced.

Ukraine and its Western allies say Russia is engaged in an unprovoked land grab.

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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Daphne Psaledakis and Robert Birsel; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and William Mallard

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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