Ukrainian authorities ordered the mandatory evacuation of residents near the frontline city of Kupyansk in eastern Ukraine as Russian shelling continued to take a civilian toll in the region and as U.S. leaders announced a new tranche of military assistance to aid Kyiv in its fight against the invasion.
Meanwhile, officials in Russia in the early hours of August 30 said a drone attack in the northwestern city of Pskov had forced closure of the local airport, Russian media reported. Details remained unclear, but authorities said the drone attack was repelled with no injures but that four military planes were damaged.
The past 24 hours marked another bloody day in the war, with deadly attacks reported on civilian areas and heavy fighting reported in the east and south of Ukraine.
In Kharkiv region, Governor Oleh Synehubov said a 44-year-old guard at a meat-processing plant was killed in Russian shelling of Kupyansk, while local officials said a 67-year-old man had also been injured in the attack.
Russian forces have been attempting retake Kupyansk in the eastern Kharkiv region after capturing it early in the war but losing it in the face of a Ukrainian counteroffensive that shocked Moscow with its speed and force nearly a year ago.
However, a new Ukrainian counteroffensive, begun in June in the east and south of the country, has made slower progress, resulting in heavy losses. Russian forces have also suffered heavy losses as they attempt an offensive in the east, leaving many experts to fear a long-term standoff between the two sides.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar on August 29 said Kyiv’s forces were making progress near the Russian-occupied city of Bakhmut, which was mostly destroyed during Russia’s effort to capture it in a long, bloody battle.
On August 28, Malyar confirmed that the village of Robotyne, which sits along an important road leading from the town of Orikhiv to Tokmak on the way to Melitopol in the south, has been liberated, although Russian officials have not acknowledged the loss.
Also in the south, Oleksandr Prokudin, Ukrainian governor of the Kherson region, said three people were killed by explosions in fields caused by mines and other devices that Russian troops had left scattered when they withdrew from the area in November during Ukraine’s counteroffensive.
In Russia, the Defense Ministry said Russian forces downed two Ukrainian drones over the Black Sea.
The ministry earlier on August 29 said two Ukrainian drones were shot down over the Tula region, south of Moscow, without specifying the precise time and location.
Russia also alleged that Ukrainian forces had shelled a Russian village in the Bryansk region about 15 kilometers from the border, killing several people and injuring five others, including children.
Battlefield claims cannot immediately be independently verified.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on August 29 paid homage to the Ukrainian soldiers killed defending their country against Moscow’s invasion as the number of civilians who died as a result of indiscriminate Russian shelling continued to mount.
“Every year on August 29, we honor the memory of Ukrainian men and women who gave their lives defending our state,” Zelenskiy said in a statement released by his press office.
“There are no words that would be sufficient to fully describe the strength, majesty and self-sacrifice of a hero who remains forever in battle, so that only his people can preserve their will and gain victory. Words are always smaller than what we feel,” said Zelenskiy.
In Washington, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was providing its next package “of military assistance to aid Ukraine as it defends its territory and protects its people.”
He said the package, worth $250 million, would include “AIM-9M missiles for air defense, munitions for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, 155mm and 105mm artillery ammunition, mine-clearing equipment, [and] Javelin and other anti-armor systems and rockets.”
The United States as so far provided some $40 billion in military aid to Ukraine, officials have said.