(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.
The Russian military has since launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol and securing a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Jul 13, 6:30 PM EDT
State Department aware of reports on another American detained by Russian proxies
The State Department said Wednesday it is aware of unconfirmed reports that another American has been detained by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
The statement follows a [report from the Guardian] () on 35-year-old Suedi Murekezi, who is believed to have gone missing in Ukraine in early June.
According to the Guardian, Murekezi was able to make contact with a family member on July 7 and told them he was being held in the same prison as Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, two American veterans captured while volunteering for Ukrainian forces. Murekezi has lived in Ukraine since 2020 and was falsely accused of participating in pro-Ukraine protests, according to the report.
“We have been in contact with the Ukrainian and Russian authorities regarding U.S. citizens who may have been captured by Russia’s forces or proxies while fighting in Ukraine,” a State Department spokesperson said Wednesday. “We call on Russia to live up to its international obligations to treat all individuals captured fighting with Ukraine’s armed forces as prisoners of war.”
Another American — Grady Kurpasi — is also missing in Ukraine. A family spokesperson said the veteran was last seen fighting with Ukrainian forces in late April and is feared to have been either killed or captured.
-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford
Jul 13, 8:27 AM EDT
Shelling continues throughout Donbas region
Shelling from both Russian and Ukrainian forces caused damage to the landscape and destroyed structures throughout the Donbas region on Tuesday and Wednesday, local officials said.
Russian strikes reportedly targeted the eastern town of Bakhmut, killing one person and wounding 5 others, the local governor said. Explosions were heard in several nearby towns too, with one missile falling near a kindergarten.
Shelling also continued in Izyum, Mykolayiv and Kharkiv on Tuesday. Russian troops reportedly conducted unsuccessful attacks north of Slovyansk and the town of Siversk on Tuesday, despite repeated rhetoric of an “operational pause” that Russia allegedly maintains, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest report.
Russian forces continue to bomb critical areas in preparation for future ground offensive, with air and artillery strikes reported along the majority of the frontline, the experts added.
Ukrainian forces on Tuesday responded to the Russian attacks and claimed to have destroyed six Russian military facilities on occupied Ukrainian territories. Ukrainian officials claimed to have destroyed several ammunition depots, as well as a larger military unit.
Russian media reported on Tuesday that Ukrainian troops launched a “massive attack” on an air defense unit in the Luhansk region.
Ukrainian military officials also claimed to have killed at least 30 Russian troops on Tuesday, along with destroying a howitzer and a multiple rocket launcher, among other weaponry.
But the U.K. Defense Ministry in its latest intelligence update said it still expects Russian forces to “focus on taking several small towns during the coming weeks” in the Donbas region.
These towns are on the approaches to the larger cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk that likely remain the principal objectives for this phase of the Russian military operation, the ministry said.
-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Max Uzol, Yulia Drozd and Yuriy Zaliznyak
Jul 12, 10:27 PM EDT
US transfers $1.7 billion in economic assistance to Ukrainian government
The United States transferred $1.7 billion to Ukraine’s government Tuesday, the Treasury Department announced.
It’s the second tranche of money the Treasury transferred to Ukraine’s government as part of $7.5 billion approved for this purpose in the $40 billion Ukraine aid package Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed into law in May.
It’ll go, in part, to helping Ukraine’s government provide “essential health care services” and health care workers’ salaries, the Treasury Department said.
The U.S. transferred the first tranche, $1.3 billion, to Ukraine’s government two weeks ago.
-ABC News Benjamin Gittleson
Jul 12, 1:59 AM EDT
Ukraine destroys Russian ammo depot in occupied Kherson region
Ukrainian forces hit and likely destroyed a Russian ammunition depot in the Russian-occupied town of Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region on Monday night, local officials said.
The strike resulted in a massive blast, videos of which soon circulated online. According to local reports, more than 40 trucks filled with gasoline were destroyed. Russian media didn’t verify the claims, saying instead that pro-Russian forces had destroyed a series of saltpeter warehouses.
“People’s windows are blown out, but they are still happy … because this means that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are close,” Sergey Khlan, from the Kherson Regional Military Administration, said in the aftermath of the attack.
Monday’s strike marked at least the fourth time Ukrainian forces destroyed ammunition depots in Nova Kakhovka, local media reported.
-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Tatiana Rymarenko, Max Uzol and Yulia Drozd
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.