In the nearly four months since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, its forces have damaged and destroyed thousands of buildings, including cultural sites, hospitals, schools and residences, and Ukrainian officials are taking stock of the damage.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Saturday that nearly 2,000 educational institutions had been destroyed by Russian forces since the invasion began Feb. 24.
“This is a colossal scale of losses,” he said.
Friday, a Russian missile strike in Lozova in the Kharkiv Oblast region damaged more than 1,000 apartments, Mayor Serhiy Zelensky said in a video, according to CNN.
“The figures are shocking: 11 educational institutions, including five schools … Our Palace of Culture was completely destroyed, too,” the mayor said.
In Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, from which Russian forces withdrew last weekend after months of bombardment, about 30% of the 8,000 some residential high-rises were “more or less destroyed,” Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security said in a Telegram post Saturday.
MAPPING AND TRACKING RUSSIA’S INVASION: See where Russian forces are moving within Ukraine
►President Joe Biden on Saturday signed a bill to grant $40 billion more in aid to Ukraine after the bill received bipartisan approval from legislators earlier in the week.
►More than 900 American public servants, researchers and activists have been permanently banned from entering Russia in response to the United States’ sanctions on the nation and its support for Ukraine.
Ukrainian lawmakers on Sunday extended by 90 days both the general mobilization of forces and a decree of martial law.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy requested the extension until Aug. 23, saying a counteroffensive would take time, according to Ukrainian media startup Hromadske International.
Fedir Venislavsky, Zelenskyy’s representative in the Constitutional Court, said the martial law order could be lifted at any time by the Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, according to Ukrayinska Pravda.
Polish President Andrzej Duda arrived in Kyiv on Sunday, meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy and addressing the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.
He is the first head of state to address the legislative body since the war in Ukraine began, according to the Kyiv Independent.
“Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future,” Duda said on Twitter, posting a photo of with Zelenskyy as the two clasped hands in solidarity.
Poland has accepted millions of refugees from Ukraine since the Russian invasion in late February.
– Katie Wadington
Terminator tank support vehicles have rolled into the war in Ukraine, according to the latest assessment from Britain’s Defense Ministry. The company of BMP-T Terminators has “likely been deployed to the Severodonetsk axis of the Donbas offensive,” the ministry tweeted on Sunday.
Severodonetsk is a key city in the Donbas region, which Russia aims to control.
Their presence suggests that the Central Grouping of Forces (CGF) is involved in this attack, which is the only formation fielding this vehicle. CGF previously suffered heavy losses while failing to break through to eastern Kyiv in the first phase of the invasion,” the ministry said.
The vehicles actually protect the Russian army’s battle tanks, and were developed for that role after the Afghan and Chechen wars, according to the ministry.
– Katie Wadington
Ukraine’s 30th Mechanized Brigade said Saturday it had “destroyed” a Russian battalion tactical group as it attempted to make a crossing of the Seversky Donets River, a major obstacle for the Russians in their focus on the eastern region.
Ukraine’s forces have destroyed bridges to complicate the effort, forcing Russians to build pontoon bridges to cross, The New York Times reported.
The 30th Mechanized Brigade said it had “dealt a significant blow” to Russian forces crossing.
“As a result, the Russians lost considerable strength – at least one battalion tactical group, pontoon bridge equipment was disabled during the forcing of the river, destroyed several units of equipment and several dozen personnel,” it said in a Facebook post.
Concern mounted Saturday over Ukrainian fighters who became prisoners at the end of Russia’s brutal three-month siege of Mariupol as a Moscow-backed separatist leader vowed they would face tribunals.
Russia claimed full control of the Azovstal steel plant, which for weeks was the last holdout in Mariupol and a symbol of Ukrainian tenacity in the strategic port city, now in ruins with more than 20,000 residents feared dead. Its seizure delivers Russian President Vladimir Putin a badly wanted victory in the war he began in February.
The Russian Defense Ministry released video of Ukrainian soldiers being detained after announcing that its forces had removed the last holdouts from the plant’s extensive underground tunnels. Denis Pushilin, the pro-Kremlin head of an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists, claimed that 2,439 people were in custody. He said on Russian state TV that the figure includes some foreign nationals, though he did not provide details.
Family members of the steel mill fighters, who came from a variety of military and law enforcement units, have pleaded for them to be given rights as prisoners of war and eventually returned to Ukraine. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Saturday that Ukraine “will fight for the return” of every one of them.
With the additional $40 billion in aid money to Ukraine that President Joe Biden signed on Saturday, the combined $53.7 billion in total aid sent is about 81% of Russia’s 2021 defense budget. It’s also more than one-quarter the size of Ukraine’s pre-war economy.
That money includes amounts to directly aid Ukraine’s governmental functions, supply emergency food assistance, increase U.S. crop production to make up for global food shortages and provide for the up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees who will arrive in the U.S.
“The cost of this fight is not cheap,” Biden said when he made the funding request to Congress, “but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen.”
– Maureen Groppe
Contributing: The Associated Press