21 May 2022, 09:48 AM

Heavy fighting continues near Sievierodonetsk, Biden signs $40 billion Ukraine aid bill

Today, May 21, is the 87th day of Ukraine's defense against a full-scale Russian invasion.

7.07 p.m: Russian forces are preparing to resume the offensive in the Slovyansk direction, Ukraine's Army General Staff has reported.

Donetsk Oblast remains the place of heaviest battles.  The Russian enemy is trying to break through the defenses of Ukrainian troops and reach the administrative borders of the Luhansk region.

Russians fir with all weapons, including aircraft, on positions of the Defense Forces and civilian targets along the line of contact. In addition, it struck air strikes on civilian infrastructure in the settlements of Vrubivka, Luhansk oblast, and Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast.

6.50 p.m: Russian shelling destroyed a construction warehouse and a petrol station in Mykolaiv Oblast, governor Vitaly Kim said in a Telegram statement.

According to Kim, the shelling caused a large-scale fire with heavy smoke. In addition to building materials, the gas station, other warehouses, and a car burned down.

"They don't want us to rebuild. We are upset, but this will not stop us," Kim said.

6:39 p.m: Russian invaders destroyed a bridge that connected Lysychansk and Severodonetsk in Luhansk Oblast, governor Serhiy Hayday has reported.

According to him, this is the second time Russians destroy this bridge. The last time they blew up the same bridge was in 2014 to cover their proxies retreating. The bridge was reconstructed in 2016.

3:41 p.m: Russians have shelled a military facility in Rivne Oblast, Rivne governor Vitaly Koval has said in a video statement. 

"The number of casualties and the scale of damage is still being clarified," Koval said, revealing no more details.

3:17 p.m: The Ukrainian defenders of Azovstal have surrendered, as the Russians clearly signaled that they would be able to live and be participants in a prisoner swap,  President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with Ukrainian media.

"The guys received a signal that they have every right to come out and save their lives. Our military command passed all this to all those trapped in Azovstal," Zelensky said. 

2:30 p.m: Russia has shelled the border districts of Chernihiv Oblast, Ukrainian Operative Command North has reported.

Russians shelled the border districts more than six times using different kinds of weapons. No casualties have been reported so far. The details are being clarified. 

2:21 p.m: U.S. President Joe Biden has signed a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine. 

Earlier, the US Senate approved the allocation of $40 billion to Ukraine.

Morning Digest

Overnight, the entirety of Ukraine's troops, who held the Azovstal steelworks for more than 80 days against overwhelming Russian forces in Mariupol, left the factory and were taken to Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine. The commanders of the Azov Regiment Denys Prokopenko and Sviatoslav Palamar, and the commander of the marines, Serhiy Volynskiy, reportedly left the steelworks last.  Mariupol has fallen.

Yet, the President's Chief-of-Staff, Andriy Yermak, has said Ukraine would not sign any deals with Russia until it withdraws its troops from all territories of Ukraine.

"There would be no concessions until Ukraine gets back all its lands," Yermak said via Telegram messenger.

Ukraine has managed to stabilize the southern front. Over the past day, Ukrainian forces neutralized 36 invaders, 3 T-72 tanks, 1 Grad MLRS, and other military vehicles. The invaders also shelled the region more than 70 times over the course of the day.

"In the Mykolayiv and Kherson directions, the enemy continues to conduct hostilities and is engineering its positions to prepare for multiple reserve fallback lines," the Ukrainian Army General Staff  reported. 

"The enemy is ruthlessly soaking the positions of our troops and civilian settlements with artillery and mortar fire, carrying out 70 shellings per day."

Yesterday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Luhansk Oblast will be taken under full Russian control "very soon".  However, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said that Ukrainians are still resisting a full Russian takeover in the region. The heaviest fights have been going on near Severodonetsk. Six civilians were killed in Luhansk Oblast yesterday.

In the nearby Donetsk Oblast, Russians murdered three civilians over the past day, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko has reported.

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