Ukraine makes steady progress in Kharkiv vicinity

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Fighting was intense around the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Friday as Ukrainian forces were making comparatively steady progress in the vicinity, according to a FRANCE 24 team reporting in the country’s second-largest city. Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia’s focus on the eastern Donbas has left its remaining troops around Kharkiv unprotected to counterattack. Follow FRANCE 24’s live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).    

9:18am: France says G7 ‘strongly committed’ in backing Ukraine

France has said the Group of Seven industrialised nations was committed to helping Ukraine win its war against Russia as the group’s top diplomats held talks in northern Germany.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the G7 countries were “very strongly united” in their will to “continue in the long term to sustain Ukraine’s fight for its sovereignty until Ukraine’s victory”.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said it was vital to keep up the pressure on Russia by supplying more weapons to Ukraine and imposing further sanctions.

“It is very important at this time that we keep up the pressure on Vladimir Putin by supplying more weapons to Ukraine and by increasing the sanctions,” she told reporters on arrival at the G7 foreign ministers meeting.

7:41am: Ukrainian forces prevent Russian river crossing in Donbas: UK

Ukrainian forces successfully prevented an attempted Russian river crossing in the Donbas, according to the British defence ministry.

Images suggest that Russia has lost armoured manoeuvre elements of at the minimum one battalion tactical group and the deployed pontoon bridging equipment while crossing the Siverskyi Donets river west of Severodonetsk, Britain said in its intelligence update posted on Twitter.

7:17am: Battle moving ‘from village to village’

Reporting from Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, FRANCE 24’s Nadia Massih said Ukrainian troops have been making steady progress in the northeastern vicinity, with the fighting moving from village to village.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia’s focus on the eastern Donbas vicinity has left its remaining troops around Kharkiv to the north unprotected to counterattack from Ukrainian forces, which recaptured several towns and villages around the city.

12:45am: US says Russia has forcibly taken ‘thousands’ of Ukrainians

The US has accused Russia of forcibly taking tens of thousands of Ukrainians, often singled out for their resistance to the invasion, to Russia.

The remarks sustain allegations by the Ukrainian government, which estimates nearly 1.2 million people have been deported into Russia or Russian-controlled territory and has denounced so-called “filtration camps” in which Moscow interrogates detained people.

US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Michael Carpenter said that observe testimony attests to “brutal interrogations” in the camps.

“Accounts of this brutality and forced displacement are happening right now, as we speak, and these actions amount to war crimes,” Carpenter told the organization in Vienna.

“We must not allow this evil to stand,” he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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