Fighting rages in eastern Ukraine as NATO pushes expansion

Sloviansk, Ukraine – Fighting raged on Tuesday in and around Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region as Russian troops tried to build on recent battlefield gains, while NATO pressed ahead with Finland and Sweden’s momentous membership bids.
With the war well into its fifth month, Kyiv’s allies committed on Tuesday to supporting Ukraine through what is likely to be a lengthy and expensive recovery, agreeing on the need for broad reforms to boost transparency and tackle corruption. The two days of talks in the Swiss city of Lugano heard that rebuilding the war-ravaged country is estimated to cost at least $750 billion.
But on the battlefield the conflict continued to wreak devastation, with the Ukrainian president’s office reporting Russian shelling and missile strikes in several regions overnight. Kremlin forces were pounding their next key target, the city of Sloviansk in Donetsk, with “massive” shelling, the city’s mayor said on Tuesday. At least two people were killed and seven others wounded in strikes that targeted the city’s central market, authorities said. Donetsk is the southwestern half of the Donbas which, unlike the northeastern half — Lugansk –, has not been almost entirely captured by Russia.
Russian bombardments have killed at least six people and injured another 19 since Sunday in Sloviansk, which had a pre-war population of around 100,000. In Moscow, the defence ministry reported that Russian forces had targeted the city of Kharkiv with “high-precision” weapons over the past 24 hours.

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