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Russian strikes kill six in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, officials say


FILE - This photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service shows the aftermath of a Russian attack in Cherkasy, Ukraine, Sept. 21, 2023. The region was attacked again on April 25, 2024, with blast waves and debris damaging nearly 50 houses.
FILE - This photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service shows the aftermath of a Russian attack in Cherkasy, Ukraine, Sept. 21, 2023. The region was attacked again on April 25, 2024, with blast waves and debris damaging nearly 50 houses.

Russian airstrikes killed at least six people in a Ukrainian-held part of the embattled Donetsk territory on Thursday, according to local officials.

Vadym Filashkin, the Donetsk regional governor, said in a post on Telegram that shelling killed three people and injured four in the village of Udachne, west of the Russian-held city of Donetsk.

Another three people were killed about 50 kilometers south in Kurakhivka, the regional prosecutor's office said. Both villages are north of Mariupol.

Farther north in the Kharkiv region, a Russian missile attack wounded 10 in the city of Balakliia, regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov said on Telegram. Russia occupied Balakliia at the beginning of its full-scale invasion, but Ukraine recaptured it months later.

The injured were in passenger train carriages, Syniehubov said, according to Reuters.

Those assaults followed a Russian missile attack that officials said injured at least six people in central Ukraine’s Cherkasy region.

Ihor Taburets, the regional governor of Cherkasy, said the blast waves and debris from the missiles damaged nearly 50 houses.

In southern Ukraine, the top Russia-installed official in Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia said Thursday that a Ukrainian drone attack killed two people in a village southeast of Zaporizhzhia.

"A man and a woman were killed as a result of a strike on a civilian car. Their four young children were orphaned," Yevgeny Balitsky wrote on social media, according to Agence France-Presse.

Ukrainian artillery fire also killed two people in the Russian-occupied part of the southern Kherson region, officials there said.

Ukrainians welcome long-awaited US aid package
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Aid and sanctions

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Britain on Thursday for its latest sanctions against Russia and an aid package of more than $600 million for Ukraine, as British Fnance Minister Jeremy Hunt visited Kyiv.

“We paid special attention to the sanction policy,” Zelenskyy said. “It is important to extend restrictive measures against Russia and make the circumvention of sanctions impossible.”

During calls with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday, Zelenskyy also expressed appreciation for the U.S. aid bill that recently passed.

Some U.S. military aid for Ukraine will arrive in a matter of days, White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday.

Zelenskyy’s conversations with Johnson and Schumer followed his Wednesday evening video message in which he thanked the United States for its new aid pledges for Ukraine. Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to U.S. leaders and “all Americans who realize the need to take the wind out of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's sails, not to submit to him, as only then will there truly be fewer threats to freedom.”

Long-range missiles

The United States has provided Ukraine with long-range tactical ballistic missiles known as ATACMS, U.S. Defense Department spokesman Major Charlie Dietz confirmed to VOA on Wednesday.

The ballistic missiles have a range of up to 300 kilometers, nearly doubling the striking distance of Ukraine’s missiles.

The missiles were sent to Ukraine as part of the United States’ $300 million military aid package provided to Kyiv in mid-March, Dietz said. He would not confirm whether more ATACMS were being sent in the latest aid package.

Two U.S. officials have confirmed to VOA that Ukraine used the ATACMS Tuesday night. Other media outlets reported that the weapons were first used last week on Russian targets in the illegally annexed Crimean Peninsula.

“We did not announce that we were providing Ukraine with this new capability at the time in order to maintain operational security for Ukraine, at their request,” a senior administration official said.

The U.S. added more of the newer version of ATACMS to its stockpiles earlier this year, according to two officials. Once those were transferred into U.S. stocks, the military was able to send Ukraine some of the older versions of its long-range missiles, they added.

President Joe Biden directed his team to take this step following Russia’s procurement and use of North Korean ballistic missiles against Ukraine, the senior administration official told VOA.

“ATACMS will help Ukraine deny Russia safe haven anywhere in occupied Ukrainian territory,” the official noted.

VOA White House Correspondent Misha Komadovsky and VOA Pentagon Correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this report. Some information came from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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