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Russia-Ukraine live updates: Priest breaks down at funeral for 4-year-old killed in missile strike

(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.

The Russian military has since launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol and securing a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jul 19, 8:25 AM EDT
US weapons help stabilize frontline, Ukrainian official says

Ukrainian forces have “stabilized” the situation along the frontline in the eastern and south-eastern regions of the country, in large part thanks to U.S.-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers, the Ukrainian military said on Monday.

“We managed to stabilize the situation. It is complex, intense, but completely controlled,” Valery Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said.

An important factor contributing to Ukraine’s retention of its defensive lines and positions is the timely arrival of U.S. supplied M142 HIMARS — High Mobility Artillery Rocket System — rocket launchers, Zaluzhny added. These highly precise and modern weapons have been delivering “targeted strikes” on Russian “control points, ammunition and fuel storage depots,” the top commander added.

Ukrainian troops struck a Russian military facility in the area of an asphalt plant in the eastern town of Nova Kakhovka on Monday, Ukrainian military officials said. Ukrainian forces also hit an administrative building and a hangar filled with Russian fuel tankers in the southern town of Beryslav, killing more than 100 Russian soldiers, the Ukrainian military said on Monday.

Russian forces shelled the town of Nikopol in the Dnipropetrovsk region about 40 times on Monday night, local authorities said. Explosions were also reported in the Odesa region, injuring several civilians. Russian troops also fired cluster shells at the city of Mykolaiv late on Monday.

Russia’s stated immediate objective is to seize all of the Donetsk region, the UK Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday. Even if Russian troops make further territorial gains, the tempo of their advance is likely to be very slow, the ministry added.

Russian units, severely under-manned, face a dilemma between deploying more forces to the Donbas or defending against Ukrainian counter-attacks in the Kherson area, the observers said.

Jul 18, 4:20 PM EDT
Ukraine’s first lady to meet with Jill Biden

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska will meet with first lady Jill Biden in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Biden’s office said, one day before Zelenska addresses Congress.

Jul 18, 1:45 PM EDT
Ukraine’s first lady to address Congress on Wednesday

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska will make remarks Wednesday before members of Congress on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced.

All members of the House and Senate are invited to the event, which is set for 11 a.m ET.

Jul 18, 8:56 AM EDT
Russia orders troops to eliminate Ukraine’s long-range missiles

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has visited the East group of Russian forces involved in the fighting in Ukraine and ordered his troops to eliminate the Ukrainian army’s long-range missiles and artillery ammunition it uses to shell targets in the Donbas region, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

Shoigu instructed the group’s commander to give priority to the use of precision-guided weapons to destroy Ukraine’s long-range missile and artillery assets, the ministry added. Russia has accused Ukraine of using its long-range weapons to shell residential neighborhoods in Donbas communities and set fire to wheat fields and grain storage facilities.

Ukrainian officials said Russian missiles struck targets across much of eastern Ukraine on Sunday and early Monday.

Six people were killed in the town of Toretsk in the Donetsk region after Russian shelling, the state emergency service said. Missiles also struck civilian infrastructure, including a school in the Dnipropetrovsk and Odesa regions.

Russia also carried out 55 strikes on the Sumy region on Sunday. Around 60 projectiles landed in Nikopol, a dozen residential buildings were damaged and one elderly woman was wounded, local officials said.

The southern city of Mykolaiv was subjected to a massive missile strike in the early hours of Sunday as 10 missiles, presumably launched by an S-300 system, hit various parts of town.

Russian officials said on Monday that no clear timeframes have been set for the war in Ukraine, and priority should be given to its efficiency.

“We have no doubts that the special military operation will be completed after all of its objectives are attained. There are no clear timeframes, what counts most is this operation’s efficiency,” Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said as quoted by Russian media.

Officials from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic claimed on Monday that DPR territory will be liberated from the Ukrainian military this year.

“The liberation of Donbas will be completed this year,” Eduard Basurin, deputy head of the police department of the DPR, said according to Russian media.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Yulia Drozd, and Max Uzol
 

Jul 17, 6:20 PM EDT
Number of Ukrainian public officials accused of treason, collaborating with Russia: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the former head of the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, in Crimea, who was dismissed in the beginning of the Russian invasion, has been notified he is being charged with treason.

“Everyone who together with him was part of a criminal group that worked in the interests of the Russian Federation will also be held accountable,” Zelenskyy said during his evening address Sunday. “It is about the transfer of secret information to the enemy and other facts of cooperation with the Russian special services.”

A number of Ukrainian public officials have been notified they will be charged for treason and for collaborating with Russia.

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou
 

Jul 17, 2:20 PM EDT
‘Evil cannot win’: Priest breaks down at funeral for 4-year-old Ukrainian girl

A funeral service was held Sunday for a 4-year-old girl with Down syndrome who was among two dozen Ukrainian civilian’s killed last week in a Russian missile attack in the west-central Ukrainian town of Vinnytsia.

During the open-casket funeral for Liza Dmytrieva, a Ukrainian Orthodox priest broke down in tears as he told the little girl’s father and other relatives, “evil cannot win,” according to The Associated Press.

Liza was pushing a stroller in a park as she and her mother were headed to a speech therapist appointment when the attack unfolded Thursday afternoon in Vinnytsia, a city close to the front lines in west-central Ukraine, officials said.

The girl and 23 others Ukrainian civilians were killed, including two boys ages 7 and 8. At least 200 other civilians, including Liza’s mother, were injured, officials said.

“Look, my flower! Look how many people came to you,” Liza’s grandmother, Larysa Dmytryshyna, said, as she caressed the child lying in an open casket filled with teddy bears and flowers.

Orthodox priest Vitalii Holoskevych gave the eulogy at Liza’s funeral struggling through tears.

“I didn’t know Liza, but no person can go through this with calm because every burial is grief for each of us,” Holoskevych said. “We are losing our brothers and sisters.”

 

Jul 15, 10:01 AM EDT
Grandma of 4-year-old girl killed in missile strike: ‘I hate them all’

The grandmother of a 4-year-old girl killed in Thursday’s Russian missile attack in Vinnytsia told ABC News, “They took the most precious [person] I had in my life.”

Four-year-old Liza was among 23 people, including three children, killed in the strike.

Liza’s grandmother, Larysa Dmytryshyna, called her a “wonderfully sunny child.”

“She was the most wonderful girl in the world and it is so painful that her mother cannot even bury her,” she said.

Asked how she feels about Russia, Dmytryshyna, replied, “I hate them all.”

“We did not ask them to come here. They have caused so much sorrow,” she said of the Russians. “I would give my own life to extinguish the entire country.”

-ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge, Ibtissem Guenfoud and Natalya Kushnir

Jul 15, 9:04 AM EDT
Demand for artificial limbs surges in Ukraine

One of Ukraine’s leading medical experts on developing prosthetic limbs for amputees says there has been a dramatic surge in demand for artificial arms and legs since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Dr. Oleksandr Stetsenko told ABC News that financial support or donations of prosthetic parts are needed from abroad to meet the increased demand.

External support, he said, is vital so that people have the chance to continue with their lives.

“With good prosthetics people can come back to life again,” Stetsenko told ABC News.

There is currently no official figure for how many people in Ukraine have undergone surgery to remove limbs because of injuries sustained from the war but Dr. Stetsenko estimates that around 500 people have had limbs amputated since the end of February with the majority of those cases being soldiers and around a fifth being civilians.

While the number of patients in Ukraine needing artificial limbs has increased, the domestic supply of components to make prosthetic arms and legs has reduced.

That is because a third of the companies which were previously producing components in Ukraine are now located in territory which has recently been occupied by Russian forces or in areas near to the frontline, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health.

A director at the health ministry, Oleksandra Mashkevych, confirmed that Ukraine is no longer able “to cover all of the demand relating to artificial limbs.”

Mashkevych told ABC News that children who need artificial limbs are sent abroad to Europe or to the United States and that around 20 children in Ukraine are thought to have had limbs amputated since the start of the war in February.

-ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge, Ibtissem Guenfoud, Natalya Kushnir and Kuba Kaminski

Jul 15, 6:49 AM EDT
Unprecedented rescue operation underway in Vinnytsia

At least 18 people are still missing after a deadly missile strike on downtown Vinnytsia in central Ukraine on Thursday, the Ukrainian National Police said.

Three Russian Kalibr missiles launched from a submarine struck an office building and damaged nearby residential buildings in Vinnytsia, located about 155 miles southwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Thursday morning.

At least 23 people — including 3 children — died in the attack, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said, and more than a 100 were wounded, some critically. The bodies of 2 children and 11 adults were yet to be identified on Friday morning, local authorities said.

The strike in the heart of Vinnytsia is “part of a systematic Russian campaign of attacks on residential areas of cities in Ukraine”, the Institute for the Study of War said.

The search continued on Friday morning for at least 18 people who were still missing after the attack. The ongoing rescue operation has been unprecedented in its scale, local officials said, with more than 1,000 rescuers and 200 pieces of equipment being involved in clearing the rubble and searching for those still missing.

Several dozen people were reportedly detained in Vinnytsia on Thursday for questioning under the suspicion of acting as local spotters or aimers on the ground for the Russian strikes.

The eastern city of Mykolaiv also reported 10 powerful explosions on Friday morning. The city’s two biggest universities were hit in the attack, wounding at least four people, local authorities said. Russia also struck a hotel and a shopping mall in Mykolaiv on Thursday.

Russian shelling also targeted Kharkiv, another eastern city, on Thursday night. Local officials claimed 2 schools were damaged in the attack.

The European Union and the United Nations strongly condemned Russia for what the EU called a “long series of brutal attacks against civilians.”

Russia’s missile strikes hit more than 17,000 facilities of civilian infrastructure as opposed to around 300 military facilities since the start of the war, Ukrainian officials said on Thursday.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Yulia Drozd, Fidel Pavlenko and Yuriy Zaliznyak

Jul 14, 4:02 PM EDT
Russian missile strike kills at least 23 in Vinnytsia

Russian missiles hit the heart of the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia on Thursday morning, killing at least 23 people and wounding dozens, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service.

Three children were among the dead, the agency said.

The missiles struck an office building and damaged nearby residential buildings in Vinnytsia, located about 155 miles southwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. The strike also ignited a massive fire that engulfed 50 cars in an adjacent parking lot, according to the National Police of Ukraine. Burned-out vehicles are peppered with holes from the missiles.

The State Emergency Service said about 115 victims in Vinnytsia needed medical attention, with 64 people hospitalized — including 34 in severe condition and five in critical.

Forty-two people are listed as missing, the agency said.

Many Ukrainians moved to Vinnytsia, a city southwest of Kyiv, to get away from the fighting in eastern Ukraine. Until now, Vinnytsia had been seen as a city of relative safety.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack “an open act of terrorism” on civilians.

“Every day Russia is destroying the civilian population, killing Ukrainian children, directing missiles at civilian objects. Where there is no military (targets). What is it if not an open act of terrorism?” Zelenskyy said in a statement via Telegram on Thursday.

War crimes investigators are at the scene studying missile fragments.

Russian missile strikes targeted several other Ukrainian cities on Wednesday and early Thursday, including Kharkiv, Zaporizhia and Mykolaiv.

At least 12 people died in the Zaporizhia strike, which hit two industrial workshops on Wednesday, according to local authorities.

At least five civilians were killed and 30 others injured in Mykolaiv on Wednesday after Russian missiles destroyed a hotel and a shopping mall, the local mayor said. The southern Ukrainian city was shelled again on Thursday morning, but no casualties were immediately reported.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Fidel Pavlenko, Max Uzol, and Yulia Drozd

Jul 14, 1:49 PM EDT
At least 18 Russian filtration camps along Russia-Ukraine border

Michael Carpenter, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, is calling the forcible relocation of Ukrainians to Russian filtration camps is “a war crime.”

In an interview with ABC News Live on Thursday, Carpenter said the Russians are “trying to take away Ukrainians who might have Ukrainian civic impulses, who are patriots, who want to defend their country.” Carpenter said the Russians want to “erase Ukrainian identity” and “the Ukrainian nation state, as the entity that governs people’s lives in these regions.”

Carpenter said there are at least 18 filtration camps along the Russia-Ukraine border, adding that it’s impossible to get an exact total because many are located in Russia’s far east.

-ABC News’ Malka Abramoff

Jul 14, 12:04 PM EDT
Russian missile strike kills at least 17 in Vinnytsia

Russian missiles hit the heart of the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia on Thursday morning, killing at least 17 people and wounding more than 30 others, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine.

Two children were among the dead, the prosecutor’s office said.

The missiles struck an office building and damaged nearby residential buildings in Vinnytsia, located about 155 miles southwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. The strike also ignited a massive fire that engulfed 50 cars in an adjacent parking lot, according to the National Police of Ukraine. Burned-out vehicles are peppered with holes from the missiles.

The national police said about 90 victims in Vinnytsia sought medical attention, and 50 of them are in serious condition.

Many Ukrainians moved to Vinnytsia, a city southwest of Kyiv, to get away from the fighting in eastern Ukraine. Until now, Vinnytsia had been seen as a city of relative safety.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack “an open act of terrorism” on civilians.

“Every day Russia is destroying the civilian population, killing Ukrainian children, directing missiles at civilian objects. Where there is no military (targets). What is it if not an open act of terrorism?” Zelenskyy said in a statement via Telegram on Thursday.

War crimes investigators are at the scene studying missile fragments.

Russian missile strikes targeted several other Ukrainian cities on Wednesday and early Thursday, including Kharkiv, Zaporizhia and Mykolaiv.

At least 12 people died in the Zaporizhia strike, which hit two industrial workshops on Wednesday, according to local authorities.

At least five civilians were killed and 30 others injured in Mykolaiv on Wednesday after Russian missiles destroyed a hotel and a shopping mall, the local mayor said. The southern Ukrainian city was shelled again on Thursday morning, but no casualties were immediately reported.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Fidel Pavlenko, Max Uzol, and Yulia Drozd

Jul 13, 6:30 PM EDT
State Department aware of reports on another American detained by Russian proxies

The State Department said Wednesday it is aware of unconfirmed reports that another American has been detained by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

The statement follows a [report from the Guardian] () on 35-year-old Suedi Murekezi, who is believed to have gone missing in Ukraine in early June.

According to the Guardian, Murekezi was able to make contact with a family member on July 7 and told them he was being held in the same prison as Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, two American veterans captured while volunteering for Ukrainian forces. Murekezi has lived in Ukraine since 2020 and was falsely accused of participating in pro-Ukraine protests, according to the report.

“We have been in contact with the Ukrainian and Russian authorities regarding U.S. citizens who may have been captured by Russia’s forces or proxies while fighting in Ukraine,” a State Department spokesperson said Wednesday. “We call on Russia to live up to its international obligations to treat all individuals captured fighting with Ukraine’s armed forces as prisoners of war.”

Another American — Grady Kurpasi — is also missing in Ukraine. A family spokesperson said the veteran was last seen fighting with Ukrainian forces in late April and is feared to have been either killed or captured.

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Jul 13, 8:27 AM EDT
Shelling continues throughout Donbas region

Shelling from both Russian and Ukrainian forces caused damage to the landscape and destroyed structures throughout the Donbas region on Tuesday and Wednesday, local officials said.

Russian strikes reportedly targeted the eastern town of Bakhmut, killing one person and wounding 5 others, the local governor said. Explosions were heard in several nearby towns too, with one missile falling near a kindergarten.

Shelling also continued in Izyum, Mykolayiv and Kharkiv on Tuesday. Russian troops reportedly conducted unsuccessful attacks north of Slovyansk and the town of Siversk on Tuesday, despite repeated rhetoric of an “operational pause” that Russia allegedly maintains, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest report.

Russian forces continue to bomb critical areas in preparation for future ground offensive, with air and artillery strikes reported along the majority of the frontline, the experts added.

Ukrainian forces on Tuesday responded to the Russian attacks and claimed to have destroyed six Russian military facilities on occupied Ukrainian territories. Ukrainian officials claimed to have destroyed several ammunition depots, as well as a larger military unit.

Russian media reported on Tuesday that Ukrainian troops launched a “massive attack” on an air defense unit in the Luhansk region.

Ukrainian military officials also claimed to have killed at least 30 Russian troops on Tuesday, along with destroying a howitzer and a multiple rocket launcher, among other weaponry.

But the U.K. Defense Ministry in its latest intelligence update said it still expects Russian forces to “focus on taking several small towns during the coming weeks” in the Donbas region.

These towns are on the approaches to the larger cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk that likely remain the principal objectives for this phase of the Russian military operation, the ministry said.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Max Uzol, Yulia Drozd and Yuriy Zaliznyak

Jul 12, 10:27 PM EDT
US transfers $1.7 billion in economic assistance to Ukrainian government

The United States transferred $1.7 billion to Ukraine’s government Tuesday, the Treasury Department announced.

It’s the second tranche of money the Treasury transferred to Ukraine’s government as part of $7.5 billion approved for this purpose in the $40 billion Ukraine aid package Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed into law in May.

It’ll go, in part, to helping Ukraine’s government provide “essential health care services” and health care workers’ salaries, the Treasury Department said.

The U.S. transferred the first tranche, $1.3 billion, to Ukraine’s government two weeks ago.

-ABC News Benjamin Gittleson

Jul 12, 1:59 AM EDT
Ukraine destroys Russian ammo depot in occupied Kherson region

Ukrainian forces hit and likely destroyed a Russian ammunition depot in the Russian-occupied town of Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region on Monday night, local officials said.

The strike resulted in a massive blast, videos of which soon circulated online. According to local reports, more than 40 trucks filled with gasoline were destroyed. Russian media didn’t verify the claims, saying instead that pro-Russian forces had destroyed a series of saltpeter warehouses.

“People’s windows are blown out, but they are still happy … because this means that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are close,” Sergey Khlan, from the Kherson Regional Military Administration, said in the aftermath of the attack.

Monday’s strike marked at least the fourth time Ukrainian forces destroyed ammunition depots in Nova Kakhovka, local media reported.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Tatiana Rymarenko, Max Uzol and Yulia Drozd

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