Russian grenades hit eastern Ukraine, three dead

Kyiv, Ukraine — At least three Ukrainian civilians have been killed and nearly 20 others injured in the latest artillery shelling by the Russian army, Ukrainian officials said Monday.

The eastern Donetsk region, one of the two provinces that make up the industrial heart of Donbas and have been the focus of a Russian offensive, has seen the most intense shelling.

Regional officials said at least three people have been killed and another 13 injured in Russian shelling that has hit numerous towns and villages in the Donetsk region in the past 24 hours. The barrage has damaged dozens of residential buildings and civilian infrastructure.

In the country’s second-largest city, Kharkov, five civilians were injured in the latest Russian shelling early Monday, according to the city’s mayor, Ihor Terekhov.

The Russian forces also hit several other regions of Ukraine with missiles and artillery.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov said on Monday that Russian warplanes attacked Ukrainian army positions in the southern Kherson region and in the Donetsk region. He added that the Russian air force also hit a facility in the Kharkov region, killing at least 100 and wounding 50 “mercenaries” from Poland and Germany. His claims could not be independently verified.

Speaking at the opening of a weapons show outside Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the military’s action in Ukraine, stating that it was “fighting for Russia … and fulfilling all the tasks set and liberating the Donbas step by step.”

The Ukrainian army, for its part, claimed to have destroyed more than 10 Russian warehouses containing ammunition and military equipment in the past week.

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In other developments Monday:

—— Attorneys for American basketball star Brittney Griner have appealed her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession, Russian news agencies reported. Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted on Aug. 4. She was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February after vape canisters containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage.

—— The Ukrainian parliament, Verkhovna Rada, has extended martial law and the country’s general mobilization for another 90 days.

“Ukraine has always longed and longed for peace and has often offered the Russian leadership in various negotiation formats to end the war and liberate Ukrainian lands from the occupation,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video on Sunday. “But so far Russia believes in terror, remains in the grip of its propaganda illusions and still hopes that it can supposedly achieve something through various forms of blackmail. It will not.”

He stressed that “we must defend ourselves”, adding that “the stronger Ukraine will be, the weaker Russia will be, and therefore, the shorter this war will last.”

—— Zelenskyy has fired the heads of three regional branches of the Ukrainian security service SBU in the Kiev, Lviv and Tarnopil regions. Zelensky’s office did not elaborate on the reasons behind the move. Last month, he fired SBU chief Ivan Bakanov and a chief prosecutor because there were too many people in their departments accused of collaborating with the Russians.

In an interview with Singaporean CNA television, Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska said that “no one in the world can take a neutral stance in that war,” adding that “you can either side with the aggressor or the one who has come under attack, there is no other choice.”

“People in other countries should know – Ukraine is not responsible for the rising prices, it is the aggressor who started the war,” she said.

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