By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Russian troops were storming Ukrainian positions in several areas simultaneously, the country’s Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said.
As battles raged, shelling killed seven people in the center of the country’s second city, Kharkiv, authorities said.
The cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in the Donbas earlier reportedly came under intense bombardment.
However, amid the clashes, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was convinced that Russia “cannot win the war.”
Despite isolated victories, tens of thousands of Russian troops, many of them conscripts but also including some generals, have been killed, several sources say.
And on Friday two more captured Russian soldiers plead guilty at Ukraine’s second war crimes trial.
While Moscow faces condemnation over its invasion and reported war crimes, Ukraine got another sign of Western support Friday, with the Finnish prime minister visiting Ukraine.
Sanna Marin, met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on an unannounced trip to Kyiv, the capital.
The leader of Finland, which seeks membership in the Western NATO military alliance, also visited the devastated Ukrainian towns of Irpin and Bucha, according to local authorities.
Marin was seen wearing a bullet-proof vest, walking with officials and soldiers. Moscow has condemned Finland’s support to Ukraine and its plans to join NATO.
However, on Friday, embattled Russian President Putin said Moscow was ready to make a “significant contribution” to avoid a global food crisis if the West lifts sanctions.
Putin reportedly made the offer in a phone call with a telephone call with Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Putin also spoke about the “steps taken to ensure safety of navigation, including the daily opening of humanitarian corridors for the exit of civilian ships,” the Kremlin announced.
That would include navigation “from the ports of the Azov and Black Sea, which is impeded by the Ukrainian side”, the Kremlin added in remarks after the phone conversation.
Ukrainian farmers have 20 million tonnes of grain they cannot get to international markets, and a new harvest is about to begin, according to official estimates.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has described as “blackmail” the offer from Russia to lift its blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports, in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
The Ukrainian government has urged the West to further tighten sanctions to include a wide spread oil and natural gas boycott as Moscow allegedly uses energy profits to finance the war.
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