Ukraine slams Russian campaign in Donbas 'hell', US readies $40 billion in aid

Ukraine slams Russian campaign in Donbas 'hell', US readies $40 billion in aid

The renewed Russian offensive in Ukraine's Donbas has turned the eastern region into "hell", President Volodymyr Zelensky said, as the United States approved a gargantuan $40-billion aid package for the country.

After failing to take Kyiv following the launch of the invasion in February, Russia has focused its attacks on the south and east of Ukraine, devastating towns and villages with artillery fire.

Moscow's forces have been trying to take complete control of Donbas, a Russian-speaking area that has been partially controlled since 2014 by pro-Kremlin separatists.

"In Donbas, the occupiers are trying to increase pressure," Zelensky said in his nightly address on Thursday.

"There's hell, and that's not an exaggeration."

The defense ministry in Kyiv said Thursday that Russian forces were preventing civilians in Donbas from fleeing to Ukrainian-controlled territory.

In Severodonetsk, 12 people were killed and another 40 wounded when Russian forces shelled the eastern city, the regional governor said.

Severodonetsk and its sister city Lysychansk make up the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the smaller of the two regions comprising the Donbas war zone.

Russian forces have surrounded the two, split by a river marking a central front of the war and are bombarding them to try and wear down resistance and starve residents of supplies.

The residents still in the now ghostly city are afraid to take more than a few steps outside their front door.

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