Russia puts more strength behind ‘creeping’ Ukraine advance

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Reinforced Russian troops backed by airstrikes are pummeling a portion of eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials said on Saturday that Russia’s forces blew up bridges and shelled apartment buildings while fighting to capture two cities that would put a contested province under Moscow’s control.

A regional governor says Russian and Ukrainian forces battled street-by-street in Sievierodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk.

The cities are central to the Kremlin’s goal of seizing the entire Donbas region. British officials said Russia is devoting significant troop strength and firepower to a “creeping advance.”

Russian and Ukrainian military officers blamed each other for a fire that destroyed the main church at a monastery that is one of Ukraine’s holiest Orthodox Christian sites.