Local resident Vitaliy, 41, looks at a rocket explosion crater in his yard in Tsirkuny, Kharkiv region, on March 20.
Russia's sustained offensive in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk intensified over the past 24 hours, the military said on March 21, as Japan's prime minister headed to Kyiv in a show of support for Ukraine's defensive war against Russia.
Ukrainian defenders repelled 120 attacks focused primarily on Bakhmut, which has been the focal point of a months-long raging battle that has prompted heavy losses to both sides, the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said in its daily report, adding that Russians also attempted advances in the directions of Avdiyivka, Lyman, Maryinka, and Shakhtarsk.
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Russian forces shelled civilian and infrastructure targets in 11 settlements along the line of contact, the Ukrainian military said.
Ukrainian forces also repelled Russian attacks in Kupyansk, in the northern region of Kharkiv, it said.
Japan's Foreign Ministry said on March 21 that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will visit Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, with Japanese broadcaster NHK showing Kishida boarding a train at the Polish border town of Przemysl.
Kishida, as a member of the Group of Seven nations, will voice solidarity and support for Ukraine following Russia's invasion more than a year ago, the ministry said.
Kishida will show "his respect for courage and perseverance of the Ukrainian people standing up to defend their homeland," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Kishida's expected meeting with Zelenskiy comes as Russian President Volodymyr Putin is hosting his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
Russian and Ukrainian forces have invested heavily in the battle for Bakhmut, even though analysts say the city carried little strategic value.
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Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar on March 20 highlighted the resistance put up by the defenders of Bakhmut in the face of an intensified Russian push for the city.
"No one believed that under such intense enemy attacks the city could be held for more than a week, two at most," she said. "But thanks to the courage and heroism of thousands of our soldiers, as well as the skillful leadership of our generals and officers, the defense of Bakhmut is holding and the possibilities have not yet been exhausted," Malyar added.
The head of Russia's Wagner mercenary group said his forces control "around 70 percent" of Bakhmut and are "continuing operations to complete the liberation of the city."
The claim could not be independently verified.
In Brussels, EU foreign and defense ministers agreed on March 20 to provide 2 billion euros' ($2.13 billion) worth of artillery shells to Ukraine under a deal that will include joint EU ammunition purchases, while the United States announced $350 million in new military aid to Ukraine.