Russian troops are advancing from the Donbass staging areas towards Kramatorsk in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is among five people to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for their actions to protect democracy.

r Zelensky was chosen for the way in which he “assembled the spirit, patriotism and tireless sacrifice of the Ukrainian people in a life-or-death struggle for their country.” Russia troops are pouring in and attacking towns and cities, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation said.

The foundation said four US officials were chosen for their commitment to free and fair elections as the system is challenged in ways it has never been before.

They are: Republican US Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Fulton County, Georgia Election Worker Wandrea “Shaye” Moss.

The Indo Daily: Putin’s Last Stand? What the “Battle in Donbass” means for Ukraine

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Caroline Kennedy and her son Jack Schlossberg will present the awards May 22 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.

Established by the late President’s family, the award is named after Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book Profiles In Courage.

“There is no more important issue for our country and the world today than the fight for democracy,” Kennedy said in a statement.

“War in Ukraine has shown the world that we cannot take liberty for granted, and the bravery of our elected officials in the United States reminds us that we, as citizens, have a responsibility to protect our democracy and exercise our fundamental right to vote.”

Meanwhile, Russian forces are advancing from base areas in the Donbass towards Kramatorsk, which continues to be hit by missile attacks, a British military update said on Thursday.

The high level of Russian air activity persists as it seeks close-range support for its offensive in eastern Ukraine and to suppress and destroy Ukrainian air defense capabilities, the UK MoD has said.

“Russia is likely to want to show significant achievements ahead of its annual Victory Day celebrations on May 9th. This could impact how quickly and vigorously they attempt to conduct operations leading up to that date,” the tweet added.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

Relentless Russian attacks hit the last Ukrainian stronghold in the besieged city of Mariupol, as a militant who appeared to be inside issued a video call for help, saying defenders holed up in a giant steel mill “may only have a few days left.” or have hours”.

Another attempt to evacuate civilians trapped in the pulverized port city failed on Wednesday amid ongoing fighting, and the number of people fleeing the country surpassed 5 million.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said it had presented a draft of its demands to end the war, and the West rushed to supply Ukraine with heavier weapons to counter the Russian push to conquer the industrial east.

Amid global tensions, Russia reported the first successful test launch of a new type of ICBM, the Sarmat. President Vladimir Putin boasted that it can defeat any missile defense system and “rethink” those who threaten Russia. The head of Russia’s state aerospace agency called the launch from northern Russia “a gift to NATO.”

The Pentagon described the test as “routine” and said it posed no threat.

On the battlefield, Ukraine said Moscow is continuing to launch attacks in the east and is looking for weaknesses in Ukrainian defenses. Russia said it launched hundreds of missile and air strikes on targets, including concentrations of troops and vehicles.

The Kremlin’s declared aim is to conquer the Donbass, the predominantly Russian-speaking eastern region that is home to coal mines, metal works and heavy machinery factories. A detachment would give Putin a much-needed victory two months into the war after a botched attempt to storm the capital Kyiv.

In a nationwide video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Russians would “not give up their attempts to gain at least some victory by launching a new, large-scale offensive.”

The Luhansk governor said Russian forces now control 80 percent of his region, which is one of two that make up the Donbass. Before Russia invaded on February 24, the Kiev government controlled 60 percent of the Luhansk region.

Governor Serhiy Haidai said that the Russians, after capturing the small town of Kreminna, are now threatening the towns of Rubizhne and Popasna. He urged all residents to evacuate immediately.

“The occupiers only control parts of these cities and cannot penetrate into the centers,” Haidai said on the messaging app Telegram.

Analysts have said the offensive in the east could turn into a war of attrition as Russia faces Ukraine’s most experienced and battle-hardened troops who have been fighting pro-Moscow separatists in Donbass for eight years.

Russia said it had submitted a draft document to Ukraine outlining its demands to end the conflict – days after Putin said talks were at a “dead end”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “The ball is in their hands, we are waiting for an answer.” He did not provide any details on the draft and it was not clear when it was sent or whether it would be sent to the Ukrainians, who sent theirs last month presented their own demands, offered something new.

Zelenskyy said he had neither seen nor heard of the proposal, although one of his top advisers said the Ukrainian side was studying it.

Moscow has long urged Ukraine to drop any bid to join NATO. Ukraine has said it would agree to this in exchange for security guarantees from other countries. Other sources of tension include the status of the Crimean peninsula, captured by Moscow in 2014, and eastern Ukraine, where separatists have declared independent republics recognized by Russia.

In devastated Mariupol, Ukraine said, the Russians have dropped heavy bombs to level the remains of the sprawling Azovstal Steelworks, believed to be the city’s last stronghold.

According to Russian estimates, a few thousand Ukrainian soldiers remained in the facility and its labyrinth of tunnels and bunkers, which stretched over about 11 square kilometers. Zelenskyy said about 1,000 civilians were also trapped.

A Ukrainian who was believed to be inside the facility posted a Facebook video calling on world leaders to help evacuate people from the facility, saying: “We have more than 500 wounded soldiers and Hundreds of civilians with us, including women and children.”

The officer identified himself as Serhiy Volynskyy of the 36th Naval Brigade and warned: “This may be our last roll call. We may only have a few days or hours.” The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified.

The Russian side gave the defenders a new ultimatum to surrender, but the Ukrainians ignored all previous demands.

Altogether, more than 100,000 people were believed to be trapped in Mariupol with little or no food, water, medicine, or warmth. The city’s pre-war population was 400,000.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said a recent attempt to open a safe corridor for women, children and the elderly to flee failed because the Russians failed to honor a ceasefire. Many previous such agreements have fallen apart due to ongoing fighting.

A Zelenskyi aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Twitter that he and other Ukrainian negotiators are ready to hold unconditional talks to save the lives of Mariupol’s captured defenders and civilians. There was no immediate reaction from Russia.

Putin has ordered Russian forces not to storm the last Ukrainian fortress in Mariupol, with an official saying it was “certainly blocked”.

Mariupol has strategic and symbolic value for both sides. The scale of the suffering there has made it a global focal point of war. The fall of Mariupol would deprive Ukraine of a vital port, complete a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, and free Russian troops to advance elsewhere in Donbass.

Elsewhere, some residents of the eastern city of Kharkiv have been living in basements for weeks, trying to shelter from Russian shelling. With no running water, gas, or electricity, they collect rainwater and cook over open fires, burning debris from ruined wooden buildings.

In one neighborhood, they took shelter in a school basement – using desks, tables and chairs to make beds. More than 300 people slept there in the first days of the war, but most left for safer places and only a few dozen stayed.

A woman stirred a large pot of thin vegetable soup and said volunteers had brought canned cabbage, turnips and beans. “We mixed everything together and made borscht,” said Natascha, who only gave her first name.

As Russia continued to funnel troops and equipment into the Donbas, Western nations rushed to ramp up the flow of military supplies to Kyiv for this new phase of the war — likely involving trench warfare, long-range artillery strikes, and tank battles in relatively open terrain.

US President Joe Biden was scheduled to announce plans to send more military aid to Ukraine on Thursday, according to a US official who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Zelenskyi said Ukraine’s western allies “understood our needs better,” adding that Ukraine is receiving new shipments of western weapons “now, when Russia is trying to step up its attacks, not in weeks or a month.”

Putin, meanwhile, boasted that the Sarmat missile had “no equivalent in the world.”

The Sarmat is eventually set to replace NATO’s Soviet-built missile, codenamed Satan, as a key component of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

It will “give thought to those who, in the heat of frantic, aggressive rhetoric, attempt to threaten our country,” Putin said. Russian troops are advancing from the Donbass staging areas towards Kramatorsk in Ukraine

Fry Electronics Team

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