Intense fighting in east Ukraine as Europe pledges more military aid

A senior defense official said most of the activity was now in the Donbas area, and essentially, we continue to see the Russians not making any major gains there..

Intense fighting, east Ukraine, Europe

Intense fighting raged in eastern Ukraines Donbas region where Russia has been concentrating its forces without making significant progress, while "very difficult negotiations" were under way over the fate of the last besieged defenders in the city of Mariupol.

Europe on Friday pledged another $500 million in military support for Ukraine as it resists the Russian invasion that began on Feb. 24, while Sweden and Finlands moves toward joining NATO hit multiple obstacles.

Ukrainian forces repulsed Russian attempts to cross a river and encircle the city of Severodonetsk, said Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the eastern Luhansk region.

"Theres heavy fighting on the border with Donetsk region, from the side of Popasna," Gaidai said, reporting heavy losses of equipment and personnel by the Russians.

Britains Ministry of Defense said the Russians had sustained heavy losses after Ukrainian forces successfully prevented their attempted river crossing.

"Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky maneuver and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine," it said.

A senior U.S. defense official said most of the activity was now in the Donbas area, "and essentially, we continue to see the Russians not making any major gains" there.

According to the latest assessment from the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War, "Russian President Vladimir Putin likely intends to annex occupied southern and eastern Ukraine directly... in the coming months."

Russias hopes of swift gains appear to have been thwarted and Ukraine has even managed to push Russian troops out of the northern city of Kharkiv, which had been a priority target for Moscow.

In Kharkiv region, "the enemys main efforts are focused on ensuring the withdrawal of its units from the city of Kharkiv," said the spokesman for the Ukrainian General Staff.

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