Moscow Has Added Forces In The East And South Ukraine Since Late Last Week, US Official Says

Moscow Has Added Forces In The East And South Ukraine Since Late Last Week, US Official Says

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10 min agoStaffers working with chef Jose Andres’ Ukraine charity kitchen injured in Russian missile strike in Kharkiv From CNN’s Tamara Hardingham-Gill

A Ukraine-based humanitarian kitchen linked to celebrity chef José Andrés has been destroyed by a Russian missile in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, according to the charity that runs it.

One of the restaurant partners of the World Central Kitchen (WCK) was struck on Saturday, according to the nonprofit kitchen’s CEO Nate Mook, who confirmed the news on Twitter. He said four staff members had been injured in the blast.

“An update I hoped I’d never have to make. I’m at a @WCKitchen restaurant in Kharkiv, where less than 24 hours ago I was meeting with their amazing team,” Mook wrote alongside a video of himself standing amongst burnt out cars and severely damaged buildings.”This is the reality here — cooking is a heroic act of bravery,” he continued.

On Sunday, Mook shared an update from Kharkiv, indicating that the injured staff “were doing well” and the restaurant team were in the process of moving “all food products & non-damaged equipment” to another location in the city.

“The work doesn’t stop,” he added.

Mook posted another photo on Twitter of three restaurant staffers who he said were recovering after the missile attack.

“I want to introduce you to 3 brave staff from @WCKitchen restaurant Yaposhka! Yulia, Liza, and Yulia are in good spirits & recovering in the hospital after the missile attack,” he tweeted.

The northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest, has been under regular heavy bombardment since Russia began its invasion more than six weeks ago.

Andrés has also taken to Twitter to address the strike, as well as provide an update on the well being of staff at the restaurant

Founded by Andrés in 2010, the WCK, an organization focused on providing meals in disaster and war zones, has been supplying food to Ukrainians since the start of the conflict, with units in around 30 cities across the country, according to its official website.

On April 15, Andrés shared a graphic detailing the scale of the organization’s operation in Ukraine, including setting up over 300 restaurants and delivering over 300,000 meals a day.

“We believe that a plate of food is sometimes the beginning of a better tomorrow,” Andrés says in a video posted on Sunday.

1 min agoMariupol remains contested as Ukrainian forces resist against about a dozen BTGsFrom CNN’s Oren Liebermann

Smoke rises above a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works company in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 18. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)The city of Mariupol in southeast Ukraine remains contested, according to a senior US defense official, as Ukrainian forces hold out against “almost a dozen” battalion tactical groups, or BTGs.

“Our assessment is Mariupol is still contested,” the official said Monday.

Mariupol, a city which Russia has reduced to rubble in many places, has become the focus of the renewed Russian offensive focusing on the south and east of Ukraine. The city sits on the coast of the Sea of Azov, a strategically important location that would allow Russia to create a continuous land bridge from Donbas to Crimea if the city fell. 

The Russians have committed about a dozen battalion tactical groups (BTGs) to the fight in Mariupol, the official said. Each BTG can have as many as 1,000 troops. 

“Should Mariupol fall to the Russians, that would free up another almost a dozen battalion tactical groups to be used elsewhere in the east and in the south,” the official said. “But that’s a big ‘if,’ because they Ukrainians are still fighting very hard for Mariupol.”

Russian forces have repeatedly struck Mariupol from the air, using both bombs and missile strikes, as well as artillery strikes from the ground, the official continued.

The official also says an amphibious assault on Mariupol is a possibility, though the US is not able to independently confirm that such an assault is coming, as the Ukrainians have warned.

The Russians “do have some amphibious capability certainly in the Black Sea and in the Sea of Azov,” so it’s certainly within the realm of possibility there, the official added.

29 min agoRussia has added forces to eastern and southern Ukraine, senior US defense official saysFrom CNN’s Michael Conte

The US assesses that Russia has added 11 battalion tactical groups (BTGs) to their forces in the east and south of Ukraine since late last week, according to a senior US defense official, bringing Russia’s total number of BTG’s to 76.

“They have added to their capability inside Ukraine,” the official said on a press call, adding that all Russian ground forces are currently focused in the east and south of Ukraine, but the US is unable to pinpoint exactly how the new BTG’s are spread out.

Meanwhile, the US has sent four flights of security assistance for Ukraine into the region from the newest round of assistance authorized by US President Joe Biden worth $800 million, the official noted.

Another should be arriving “over the next 24 hours,” according to the official, but no details were provided around what equipment was on the flights.

11 min agoAuto repair shop owner tells CNN some of his longtime employees were killed by missile strike in LvivFrom CNN’s Jo Shelley in Lviv

Roman Stelmashchuk (David von Blohn/CNN)Roman Stelmashchuk was on his way to the auto repair shop he owns in Lviv when he got a call saying it was hit by a missile.

More than a dozen of his employees were already there, getting ready to open up the shop, he told journalists at the site of the strike, adding that four died and three others are in the hospital.

The youngest, who died, was 30 years old. One employee had three daughters and the other had a child who was about to start school this year, Stelmashchuk said.

All of those who died had worked for him, “for a long time. They were good workers,” he added, saying one of the employees killed in the strike had worked for him for 11 years.

“We don’t have a big turnover of workers. We have a team who has worked here for a long time, he said Monday. “This is a civilian facility. There are no strategic military targets here. The Russians destroy our infrastructure, they kill our people and they want to destroy the Ukrainian nation.”More on the strikes: Regional military governor Maksym Kozytskyy said earlier Monday

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