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Fri. May 17th, 2024

Russia announced on Sunday that its forces had captured territory near the strategically important town of Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine, signaling increasing pressure on Kyiv as it prepares to receive a significant U.S. aid package worth $61 billion.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the aid package after a year-and-a-half delay, providing a morale boost for Ukrainian forces that have been on the defensive.

Russia’s defense ministry said it had taken control of Bogdanivka, a small frontline village located less than three kilometers (two miles) northeast of Chasiv Yar. “Units of the southern grouping of troops have completely liberated the settlement of Bogdanivka,” the ministry announced in a statement. The Kremlin has attempted to downplay the impact of the new U.S. aid package, with Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova suggesting it would increase Washington’s involvement in the conflict. “Feverish attempts aimed at saving [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky’s neo-Nazi regime are doomed to failure,” she said.

However, Ukrainian officials view the newly approved aid package as crucial for sustaining their resistance against Russian aggression. Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to the Ukrainian president, noted that the aid would lead to “de-escalation” and “punishment” for Russia, adding that it has caused visible panic among Russian officials. Podolyak stated that this aid represents a significant step toward bolstering Ukraine’s defense capabilities and reducing the threat posed by Russian forces.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian citizens welcomed the approval of the new U.S. aid package, emphasizing its importance for both civilians and military personnel. Oksana, a 50-year-old nurse in Kyiv, told AFP that the aid would be a lifeline for those fighting on the frontlines. “The most important thing is to have something to defend ourselves with. Both civilians and our guys. It will save our lives,” she said. Similarly, Dmytro, a 19-year-old barber, echoed the sentiment, saying that the timing of the aid package, while delayed, remains vital for Ukraine’s defense.

Despite the boost in aid, the situation around Chasiv Yar remains precarious. Ukrainian forces earlier noted that the region was experiencing constant Russian artillery fire, with a corresponding increase in civilian casualties. On Sunday, prosecutors reported that Russian shelling in the town of Ukrainsk in the eastern Donetsk region resulted in the death of an 82-year-old woman. Additionally, four men aged between 21 and 53 suffered injuries of varying severity, according to the Donetsk Regional Prosecutor’s Office.

In southern Ukraine, Russian forces targeted the Odesa region with ballistic missiles, aiming at logistics and port infrastructure as well as defense forces. The blast wave and rocket fragments caused damage to private homes, highlighting the continued risk of civilian casualties amid Russia’s intensified military operations.

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