Ukraine’s industrial region of Donbass, the hotbed of Russia’s latest offensive, has been destroyed, President Vladimir Zelensky said when some of the world’s richest nations pledged billions of dollars to support Kyiv.

After Russia turned away from the Ukrainian capital, Russia is using massive artillery and armored vehicles to try to seize more territory in the Donbas, which consists of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which Moscow claims on behalf of the separatists.

“The occupiers are trying to put even more pressure. It’s hell there – and it’s not an exaggeration, “Zelensky said in his address on Thursday.

“There are constant attacks on the Odessa region, on the cities of central Ukraine. Donbass is completely destroyed, ”he said.

Moscow calls its invasion a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of the Nazis, which Kyiv and its Western allies consider unfounded grounds for an unprovoked war.

Russia has intensified offensive and assault operations in Donetsk, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Five civilians were killed in Donetsk on Thursday, regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko said. “The enemy is destroying all civilian infrastructure, even in places relatively far from the front line,” he told local television.

Reuters could not immediately verify the information.

Moscow denies attacking civilians.

Last week, Russia won the biggest victory since the invasion: Kyiv announced that after a long siege of the city gave orders to its garrison at the steel plant in Mariupol.

However, this month Russian troops were pushed back from the outskirts of Kharkiv’s second largest city. Ukraine says it has recaptured 23 settlements near Kharkiv over the past two weeks.

As the invasion approaches its three-month mark, the Group of Seven has agreed to allocate $ 18.4 billion to Ukraine to pay its bills. Ukraine has said that this money will accelerate the victory over Russia and is as important as “the weapons you give.”

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told reporters: “The message was: ‘We stand for Ukraine.’ We are going to pool the resources they need to get through this. ”

Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Denis Shmygal wrote on Twitter: “Supporting partners will accelerate our victory … Despite Russia’s efforts to destroy our economy, together we will win!”

The United States has also said it has authorized $ 100 million in additional weapons, equipment and supplies for Ukraine.

The White House is working to transfer advanced anti-ship missiles into the hands of Ukrainian fighters to help overcome Russia’s naval blockade, officials said.

And as an additional sign of Western actions harming Russia’s economy, five foreign vice-presidents of Russia’s Rosneft have resigned over EU sanctions banning European citizens or Russians living in the EU from working for the oil company. sources.

The EU has said it is considering ways to use the frozen assets of Russian oligarchs to fund Ukraine’s reconstruction, while the United States does not rule out sanctions against countries that buy Russian oil.

NATO DEPARTMENT

But Western divisions are also evident when Turkey opposes Sweden and Finland joining the alliance, and the move would undo generations of military non-alignments in Europe’s biggest security upheaval in decades.

Ankara has accused two Nordic countries of sheltering Kurdish militants, but US President Joe Biden and European leaders have said they are confident Turkey’s concerns can be resolved.

Biden, who hosted Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson and Finnish President Sauli Niiniste at the White House, told reporters: “I think we will be fine.”

Niinista said Finland would commit to Turkey’s security, adding: “We condemn terrorism in all its forms and are actively involved in the fight against it.”

In Mariupol, the final outcome of the bloodiest battle in Europe for decades remains unclear, with the uncertainty of the fate of hundreds of Ukrainian defenders.

On Thursday, Moscow said that 1,730 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered at the moment, including 771 in the past 24 hours.

Ukrainian officials seeking an exchange of prisoners declined to comment, saying it could jeopardize rescue efforts.

Late Thursday, Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy chief of the Azov Regiment, which protects the steel plant, released an 18-second video in which he said he and other commanders were still at the plant.

“There is a certain operation, the details of which I will not disclose,” he said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, based in Switzerland, said it had registered hundreds of prisoners from the plant, which is now in Russia, but did not name the exact number.

The leader of the Russian-backed separatists who control the area said almost half of the fighters remained inside the metallurgical plant, where underground bunkers and tunnels protected them from weeks of Russian bombing.

“More than half of them were weapons,” Dzyanis Pushylin told the Nightingales Live TV channel.

According to him, the wounded received medical treatment, and those who were in good condition were taken to the colony.

Russia denies consent to exchange prisoners. Moscow calls the Azov Regiment, which is of far-right origin, a Nazi and says its members should be held accountable for the crimes.

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