KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian officials on Saturday morning reported more civilian casualties from Russian shelling in the country’s east and south, as a visit by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez began in Kyiv as a show of continuing support from Madrid and the European Union for Ukraine’s fight to dislodge invading Russian forces from its territory.
In an address to Ukraine's parliament that received several standing ovations, Sánchez said, “We’ll be with you as long as it takes.”
“I am here to express the firm determination of the European (Union) and Europe against the illegal and unjustified Russian aggression to Ukraine,” he said on the day that Spain took over the six-month rotating presidency of the 27-nation EU.
Sánchez will meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, with the two set to give a joint news conference on Saturday afternoon.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, regional officials reported that at least three civilians were killed and at least 17 more wounded by Russian shelling on Friday and overnight. Three people died and 10 more suffered wounds on Friday in the front-line eastern Donetsk region, where fierce battles are raging, Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Saturday.
The Ukrainian General Staff reported that fierce clashes continued in three areas in Donetsk where it said Russia has massed troops and attempted to advance. In the latest of regular social media updates, the General Staff named the outskirts of three cities — Bakhmut, Lyman and Marinka — as front-line hot spots, and said that Russia over the previous day staged unsuccessful assault attempts there.
Five people including a child were wounded on Friday and overnight in the Kherson region in the south, Gov. Oleksandr Prokudin said. Prokudin said that Russian forces launched 82 artillery, drone, mortar shell and rocket attacks on the province, which is cut in two by a stretch of the 1,500-kilometer (930 mile) front line and still reeling from flooding unleashed by the collapse earlier this month of a major Dnipro river dam.
In the northeastern Kharkiv region, Russian shelling over the previous day wounded a 57-year-old civilian man, local Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said that same morning. In the Sumy region further west, a teenage boy was hurt in a strike from across the Russian border, the local military administration reported.
Referring to possible peace talks, the Spanish leader said that “only Ukraine can set the terms and times for peace negotiations. Other countries and regions are proposing peace plans. Their involvement is much appreciated, but, at the same time, we can’t accept them entirely.
“This is a war of aggression, with an aggressor and a victim. They cannot be treated equally and ignoring the rules should in no way be rewarded. That is why that is why we support President Zelensky’s peace formula,” Sánchez added.
Ciarán Giles contributed to this report from Madrid.