Russia claims advances as Ukraine hails new aid

Russia said Sunday its forces had gained territory near the key battleground town of Chasiv Yar in east Ukraine, highlighting the pressure facing Kiev as it gears up to receive $61 billion in new U.S. aid.

Ukraine meanwhile reported renewed Russian strikes against its civilians.

After months of partisan infighting, the United States House of Representatives finally approved the major package in a vote Saturday, giving a morale boost to Ukrainian forces on the defensive.

It still needs to be approved by the U.S. Senate before U.S. President Joe Biden can give it the final green light.

"This is good news," 34-year-old Ukrainian soldier Dmytro told AFP from the northeast Kharkiv region. "We are now catastrophically short of ammunition. If there is help, everything will be fine."

Russia said Sunday it had taken control of Bogdanivka, a small frontline village less than three kilometres (two miles) northeast of Chasiv Yar.

"Units of the southern grouping of troops have completely liberated the settlement of Bogdanivka," Moscow's defence ministry said.

Chasiv Yar, which had a pre-war population of about 13,000, has been largely destroyed by fighting and most of its residents have fled.

The Kremlin has sought to play down the impact of the new U.S. aid, arguing it only deepens Washington's "immersion" in the war.

"Feverish attempts aimed at saving (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky's neo-Nazi regime are doomed to failure," Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

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