Live Updates | Ukraine: 4 more dead in Sievierodonetsk

KYIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian regional governor says four people have been killed in the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk in the past 24 hours by Russian airstrikes. One more person was killed by a Russian shell in the village of Komushuvakha.

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, wrote in a Telegram post on Friday that “Sievierodonetsk residents have forgotten when the last time there was silence in the city for at least half an hour.” He said “the Russians are hitting the suburbs relentlessly.”

Sievierodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said Thursday that 60% of the city’s residential buildings have been destroyed and 85-90% have been damaged and require major repairs.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

– Russia criticizes sanctions and seeks to blame the West for the food crisis

– The West believes that Russian oligarchs buy the way out of sanctions

– US wins latest legal battle to seize Russian yacht in Fiji

– US General: No need to add ground forces in Sweden, Finland

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The United States has won the latest round of a legal battle to seize a $325 million Russian-owned superyacht in Fiji, and the case now appears headed to the Pacific nation’s high court.

The case has highlighted the thorny legal ground the United States finds itself in as it tries to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs around the world. Those intentions are welcomed by many governments and citizens who oppose the war in Ukraine, but some actions raise questions about how far US jurisdiction extends.

The Fiji Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed an appeal by Feizal Haniff, who represents the company that legally owns the Amadea superyacht. Haniff had argued that the US had no jurisdiction under Fiji’s mutual assistance laws to seize the ship, at least until a court determined who actually owned the Amadea.

Haniff said he now plans to take the case to the Fiji Supreme Court and will seek an injunction to stop US agents from sailing the Amadea from Fiji before the appeal is heard.

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WASHINGTON – The US general nominated to take over European Command told senators that Sweden and Finland’s push to join NATO will not require adding more US ground forces to either country. But Army General Christopher Cavoli said Thursday that military exercises and occasional US troop rotations will likely increase.

Cavoli, who currently serves as head of the US Army in Europe and Africa, said the greatest military focus will likely continue to be on Eastern Europe, where nations are most concerned about potential Russian aggression and any spillover effects of the war in Ukraine.

Cavoli told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his nomination hearing that “the center of gravity of NATO forces has shifted to the east.” He said that “depending on the outcome of the conflict, we may have to continue with that for some time.”

Cavoli was asked about the US troop presence in Europe, which has grown from fewer than 80,000 to around 102,000 since the buildup to the Russian invasion. He said the increase had no links to the latest move by Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership.

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KYIV, Ukraine – The Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk is the center of fierce fighting in the east. Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk says he is holding out despite the fact that a Russian reconnaissance and sabotage group entered a city hotel.

Stryuk said at least 1,500 people have been killed in Sievierodonetsk and between 12,000 and 13,000 remain in the city, where he said 60% of residential buildings have been destroyed.

Sievierodonetsk is the only part of the Luhansk region of the Donbas under the control of the Ukrainian government, and Russian forces have been trying to isolate it from the rest of the Ukrainian-controlled territory.

Stryuk said the main highway between the neighboring city of Lysychansk and Bakhmut to the southwest remains open, but travel is dangerous. He said only 12 people were able to be evacuated on Thursday.

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KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday pleaded with the West to send multiple rocket launch systems to Ukraine as soon as possible to give it a chance against the Russian offensive in eastern Donbas.

“We are fighting for Ukraine to receive all the necessary weapons to change the nature of the struggle and start moving faster and more confidently towards the expulsion of the occupiers,” Zelenskyy said in his evening video address to the nation.

He said Russian forces are wiping some eastern towns off the face of the Earth and the region could end up “uninhabited.”

“They want to turn Popasna, Bakhmut, Lyman, Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk to ashes like they did Volnovakha and Mariupol,” Zelenskyy said.

In Thursday’s shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, Zelenskyy said at least nine people were killed and 19 wounded. Among the dead were a five-month-old baby and the baby’s father with the child’s mother seriously injured.

Zelenskyy also had harsh words for European Union members who resist imposing even tougher sanctions on Russia, including a ban on importing Russian oil and gas, Moscow’s main source of income.

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