An operation by Russian forces to storm the strategically important city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine appears to be running out of steam, Kyiv officials said Monday.
Ukrainian forces repelled 15 Russian attacks from four directions on Avdiivka over the previous 24 hours compared with up to 60 attacks a day in the middle of last week, according to Vitalii Barabash, head of the city administration.
The slackening suggests the Russian effort to capture Avdiivka has "deflated," Barabash said.
The Institute for the Study of War echoed Barabash's sentiment in a report late Sunday. According to the Washington-headquartered research group, "Russian forces continued offensive operations aimed at encircling Avdiivka … but have yet to make further gains amid a likely decreasing tempo of Russian operations in the area."
Before the onset of winter, both sides have been seeking battlefield breakthroughs that could invigorate their efforts and raise morale.
Russia hopes to break through Ukrainian defenses in the Kupiansk-Lyman sector of the front line in northeastern Ukraine, the commander of Ukraine's ground forces warned Monday. Video footage released by the ground forces showed Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi telling soldiers, whom he met in an undisclosed location, that the situation on Ukraine's northeastern front line had "significantly escalated" in recent days.
"The enemy is preparing, seriously preparing for offensive actions, bringing in staff," Syrskyi said in the footage posted on the Telegram messaging app. "The main goal is to break through our troops' defenses and recapture our territory."
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said Ukrainian troops are holding their positions in the east but so far, Ukraine's counteroffensive in the east and south — since the beginning of June — has yielded only minor gains.
Ukraine's military said Monday that Russia attacked overnight with six missiles and 12 drones.
The Ukrainian air force said it downed two of the missiles, which targeted the northern and eastern part of Ukraine, as well as 11 of the drones.
Russia also carried out artillery shelling and airstrikes in the Zaporizhzhia region, damaging several residential buildings and infrastructure and injuring one elderly woman, the governor there said.
Russia will spend around $618 million to develop drone manufacturing, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told lawmakers Monday.
"The task is that 41% of all drones by 2025 should have the label 'Made in Russia,'" Siluanov said. He added that, so far, its drones are mostly sourced from China.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit North Korea this week, the foreign ministry said Monday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traveled to Russia last month to meet President Vladimir Putin and visit key military sites, triggering speculation about a possible North Korean plan to refill Russia's drained munition stores in return for sophisticated Russian weapons technologies to boost North Korea's military and nuclear program.
The White House claims Pyongyang delivered munitions and military equipment to Russia for use in the fighting in Ukraine.
On Friday, the White House released satellite images showing more than 1,000 containers being loaded onto a Russia-flagged ship before transport via train to southwestern Russia. The containers were shipped between September 7 and October 1, the White House said.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met Monday in Kyiv with U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine's Economic Recovery Penny Pritzker for talks focused on infrastructure reconstruction.
"We managed to discuss all the issues that directly affect life in Ukraine," said Zelenskyy in his nightly video address. "Protection of our energy sector, especially this winter. Macro-financial support. Reconstruction. Protection of investments from the war risks. Attracting private business," he added.
Zelenskyy also talked about the need for more air defense for Ukraine to "give more protection to our cities, so that they can maintain life, including economic life. Plus, the development of our industries, including defense production," he said.
"All of this together keeps us resilient. All of this together adds to Ukraine's strength," he noted.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Monday that support for Ukraine remains a "top priority" for the United States and Europe, calling it crucial to sustain Ukraine's military battle against Russia's invasion.
"We cannot allow Ukraine to lose the war for economic reasons when it has shown an ability to succeed on the battlefield," Yellen said in remarks prepared for her third meeting with the Eurogroup finance ministers.
She said the Biden administration is committed to supporting Ukraine "for as long as it takes" and would fight to ensure a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Congress enacted "robust" and uninterrupted assistance for the war-torn country.
Her meeting with the Eurogroup in Luxembourg comes as the Biden administration prepares to push through a new military assistance package worth well over $2 billion for Ukraine and Israel. The latter is preparing a ground invasion after a deadly October 7 attack by the militant Hamas group that rules Gaza.
Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko told the Reuters news agency on Saturday that Ukraine is finding it harder to secure financial support.
Some Republicans in Congress have questioned funding for Kyiv, including Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, who has been nominated to be House speaker and leads a hardline Republican party caucus backed by former president and likely 2024 nominee Donald Trump.
Qatar announced Monday the reunification of a group of Ukrainian children with their families, a start on the return of some of the thousands of children whom Ukraine says Russia forcibly took after launching its invasion in February 2022.
The repatriations took place after months of talks brokered by Qatar.
Officials familiar with the matter said four children, ages 2 to 17, were being reunited under an arrangement that could lead to more repatriations.
"We are bringing home four Ukrainian children illegally deported to the Russian Federation," Andriy Yermak, head of the presidential office, said on X, formerly known as Twitter. He gave no further details.
Kyiv says the abduction of about 20,000 children from Ukraine to Russia or Russian-held territory is a war crime that meets the U.N. treaty definition of genocide.
Some information for this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.