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Sunday September 25th, 2022 8:24AM

Live Updates | UK: Russian shelling is prelude to new attack

By The Associated Press
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LONDON — Britain’s defense ministry says Russia is bombarding infrastructure targets to wear down Ukraine’s government and military as it prepares for a renewed assault on the country’s east.

The ministry said in an intelligence update Thursday that “progressing offensive operations in eastern Ukraine is the main focus of Russian military forces.”

It says Russia is targeting the “line of control” between Ukrainian-held areas in the Donbas and those held by Russia-supporting separatists with artillery and airstrikes.

The Russian military is also targeting infrastructure in the Ukrainian interior “to degrade the ability of the Ukrainian military to resupply and increase pressure on the Ukrainian government.”

Even so, the U.K. says that “Russian forces are likely to continue facing morale issues and shortages of supplies and personnel.”

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

— Ukraine girds for renewed Russian offensive on eastern front

— Russia is moving troops and focus toward the east, but that strategy carries risks as well

— General Assembly to vote Thursday on suspending Russia from UN rights council

— Ukrainian refugees find quickest route into US goes through Mexico

— Seeing Bucha atrocities is turning point for media, viewers

— Russia makes debt payment in rubles, a move that could result in historic default

— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine is accusing Hungary of undermining the unity of the European Union by supporting Moscow as Russia presses its invasion.

Hungary is an EU member, and Ukraine wants to join the 27-nation bloc. Ukrainian officials are angry about Hungary’s response to evidence that Russian troops killed people indiscriminately before recently retreating from in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, which the EU has condemned.

Ukraine Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said Thursday that “Hungary’s reluctance to acknowledge Russia’s responsibility for atrocities in Bucha strengthens Russia’s sense of impunity and encourages it to commit new crimes.”

Nikolenko also blasted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s statement about Hungary’s readiness to pay for the Russian gas in rubles, describing it as unfriendly and flying in the face of the EU’s rejection of Moscow’s currency demand.

In a statement, Nikolenko dismissed Orban’s offer to host talks between Russia and Ukraine as cynical, saying that “if Hungary wants to help end the war, it must stop damaging EU unity, support new sanctions, offer military assistance to Ukraine and stop creating additional resources to finance the Russian war machine.”

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LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s deputy prime minister says Russian forces have agreed on 10 humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians in three eastern regions of Ukraine on Thursday.

Russia is expected to intensify its military campaign for control of Ukraine’s industrial east in coming days and weeks, and Ukraine has appealed to NATO for more weapons to help stop it.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said civilians from the Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions will be able to evacuate to the cities of Zaporizhzhia and Bakhmut.

Vereshchuk said on the messaging app Telegram that it would be possible to travel from Mariupol and Enerhodar to Zaporizhzhia by car and from Berdyansk, Tokmak and Melitopol by car and on buses.

Evacuations to Bakhmut, a city in the Donetsk region, will take place in Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna, Girske and Rubizhne of the Luhansk region.

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BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is calling on members of the organization to provide more weapons for Ukraine and not just defensive anti-tank and anti-craft arms.

As NATO defense ministers gathered in Brussels on Thursday, Stoltenberg said “I have urged allies to provide further support of many different types of systems, both light weapons but also heavier weapons.”

Stoltenberg says that NATO countries, but not NATO as an organization, are supplying many kinds of arms and other support to Ukraine but that the 30 allies can do more.

He says that “Ukraine is fighting a defensive war, so this distinction between offensive and defensive weapons doesn’t actually have any real meaning.”

Stoltenberg is insisting that it is also important for NATO not to be dragged into a wider war with Russia.

“NATO is not sending troops to be on the ground. We also have a responsibility to prevent this conflict from escalating beyond Ukraine, and become even more deadly, even more dangerous and destructive,” he said.

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BRUSSELS — Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is appealing to NATO to provide his war-torn country with weapons to help avoid further atrocities like those reported in the town of Bucha this week.

Arriving at NATO headquarters Thursday for talks with the military organization’s foreign ministers, Kuleba said: “My agenda is very simple… it’s weapons, weapons and weapons.”

Kuleba says that “we know how to fight. We know how to win. But without sustainable and sufficient supplies requested by Ukraine, these wins will be accompanied by enormous sacrifices.”

“The more weapons we get and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more human lives will be saved.”

He urged Germany in particular to go further, and speed the dispatch of sorely needed equipment and arms, saying that “while Berlin has time, Kyiv doesn’t.”

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate will take up legislation Thursday to end normal trade relations with Russia and to ban the importation of its oil.

Both bills have been bogged down in the Senate, frustrating lawmakers who want to ratchet up the U.S. response to Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to be held accountable for what Schumer said were war crimes against Ukraine.

The trade suspension measure paves the way for President Joe Biden to enact higher tariffs on certain Russian imports.

The bill banning Russian oil would codify restrictions Biden has already put in place through executive action.

In a virtual speech to Congress last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “new packages of sanctions are needed constantly every week until the Russian military machine stops.”

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