Ukrainian service members fire a BM-27 Uragan multiple rocket launch system in Donbas region, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine July 7, 2022.
Ukrainian service members fire a BM-27 Uragan multiple rocket launch system in Donbas region, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine July 7, 2022. Reuters / GLEB GARANICH

Ukraine reported clashes with Russian troops on Sunday on fronts in the east and south, with six civilians killed in one rocket attack, as the United States sought to marshal international support in opposing Russia's invasion.

Russian forces attacked Ukrainian positions near the eastern town of Sloviansk but were forced to withdraw, Ukraine's military said, adding that Russian forces had launched a cruise missile attack on the northeastern city of Kharkiv from their side of the border. It gave no details of damage or casualties.

Luhansk region Governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russian forces were gathering in the area of the village of Bilohorivka, about 50 km (30 miles) east of Sloviansk.

"The enemy is ... shelling the surrounding settlements, carrying out air strikes, but it is still unable to quickly occupy the entire Luhansk region," he said on the Telegram message channel.

"During the last night alone, the Russians launched seven artillery barrages and four rocket strikes."

Reuters could not independently verify battlefield accounts.

Russia says it wants to wrest control of the entire Donbas, the eastern industrial heartland made up of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists in two self-proclaimed people's republics.

The governor of the Donetsk region said six civilians were killed in a Russian rocket attack on an apartment block in Chasiv Yar town, about 30 km (20 miles) southeast of Sloviansk, with some 30 people believed to be trapped in the ruins.

Russia's Tass news agency, meanwhile, cited pro-Russian separatists as saying Ukrainian forces had fired an artillery barrage into residential districts of the city of Donetsk.

Ukrainian military spokesman were not immediately available for comment. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday the Russian army had targeted civilians on purpose.

Russia, which claimed control over all of Luhansk province last weekend, denies targeting civilians.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it called a "special operation" to degrade its military capabilities and root out what it calls dangerous nationalists. Kyiv and its Western allies call the invasion an unprovoked land grab.

Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw.


In the south, Ukrainian forces fired missiles and artillery at Russian positions including ammunition depots in the Chornobaivka area, Ukraine's military command said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Asia, where he has been urging the international community to join forces to condemn Russian aggression.

He told journalists on Saturday he had raised concerns with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, over Beijing's alignment with Moscow. [L1N2YQ0AN]

The two met for more than five hours on the sidelines of a meeting of G20 foreign ministers on the Indonesian island of Bali. Russia's Sergei Lavrov walked out of a meeting there on Friday, denouncing the West for "frenzied criticism".

The Chinese foreign ministry said, without giving details, that Wang and Blinken had discussed Ukraine.

It quoted Wang as saying Sino-American relations were in danger of being further led "astray", with many people believing that "the United States is suffering from an increasingly serious bout of 'Chinaphobia'."

Shortly before the Russian invasion, Beijing and Moscow announced a "no limits" partnership, although U.S. officials have said they have not seen China evade U.S.-led sanctions on Russia or provide it with military equipment.

Blinken was in Thailand on Sunday and due to visit Japan on Monday.

Zelenskiy dismissed several of Ukraine's senior envoys abroad, saying it was part of "normal diplomatic practice". He said he would appoint new ambassadors to Germany, India, the Czech Republic, Norway and Hungary.

Zelenskiy has urged his diplomats to drum up international support and high-end weapons to slow Russia's advance.

But Ukraine suffered a diplomatic setback on Saturday, when Canada said it would return a repaired turbine that Russia's state-controlled Gazprom used to supply natural gas to Germany. Ukraine had argued that a return would violate sanctions on Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signalled that the Kremlin was in no mood for compromise, saying sanctions against Russia risked causing "catastrophic" energy price rises.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said sanctions were working, echoing calls for more deliveries of high-precision Western weapons.

"Russians desperately try to lift those sanctions which proves that they do hurt them. Therefore, sanctions must be stepped up until Putin drops his aggressive plans," Kuleba told a forum in Dubrovnik by videolink.