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More Than 700,000 Ukrainian Children Taken To Russia Since Start Of War, Official Says

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Ukrainian forces have been engaged in heavy fighting along the entire front line, repelling Russian assaults in the northeast and making incremental advances, officials said, as Kyiv and Washington are preparing to start talks on security guarantees for Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops fought more than 20 close-combat battles over the past 24 hours, the General Staff of Ukraine’s military said in its morning report on July 31, adding that Russian air strikes and shelling had continued to take a toll on the civilian population and infrastructure.

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“As a result of the Russian attacks, unfortunately, there are dead and wounded among the civilian population, and residential buildings were destroyed,” the military said.

In the southern city of Kryviy Rih, one person was killed in a missile strike that hit a school early on July 31, Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.

In the eastern region of Donetsk, two civilians were killed by Russian shelling, the region’s governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on July 31.

Local authorities in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy reported on July 30 that two civilians had been killed and at least 17 injured in a Russian rocket attack the previous evening.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar, meanwhile, reported advances in the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the southern region of Zaporizhzhya.

“We are gradually but surely moving [ahead] in the Berdyansk and Melitopol directions,” Malyar said on Telegram, adding, “Fighting continues in all directions of the counteroffensive.”

In the northeast, Russian forces continued their attacks on Ukrainian-held Kupyansk and Lyman, “but failed and suffered losses,” Malyar said.

Ukrainian and Russian forces continued heavy artillery exchanges in the Bakhmut area of Donetsk, where fierce fighting has been under way for months, with Malyar saying that Moscow is pouring additional troops into the area.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in his evening video address, said on July 30 was “a good day, a powerful day” at the front.

Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said that Ukraine is to open discussions with Washington in the coming days on “firm” security guarantees for Kyiv that would ensure the country’s ability to protect itself until it becomes a member of NATO.

“Ukraine will begin negotiations with the United States on a bilateral agreement on security guarantees next week,” Yermak wrote on Telegram late on July 30.

“These guarantees will be valid until Ukraine acquires NATO membership, which is the most reliable guarantee of security. As long as there is a war in our country and we cannot join NATO, our state must secure reliable guarantees for the transition period,” he wrote.

Yermak also said a Ukrainian-organized meeting will soon be held in Saudi Arabia to discuss Zelenskiy’s peace plan, which is based on the departure of all Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.

Zelenskiy on July 30 warned that it is was “inevitable” that “war” would come to Russia after authorities there were forced to temporarily close a busy Moscow airport following an overnight drone attack on the capital.

“Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia — to its symbolic centers and military bases. And this is an inevitable, natural, and absolutely fair process,” Zelenskiy said on July 30 during a visit to the city of Ivano-Frankivsk — which, although in western Ukraine, has been hit by Russian missile fire in the past.

Russian officials said three Ukrainian drones attacked Moscow early on July 30, injuring a security guard and forcing the temporary suspension of traffic at Vnukovo airport, one of four major facilities serving the capital.

Russia’s Defense Ministry called it an “attempted terrorist attack” and claimed that one drone had been shot down and two others jammed, leading them to crash into Moscow’s prestigious Moskva-Citi business complex.

Local Russian Telegram channels said late on July 30 that a drone strike hit near the southwestern Russian city of Taganrog, causing a fire but no injuries. The reports could not be confirmed.

Ukraine’s military said on July 30 that the Chonar Bridge, which links Crimea with the occupied part of the Kherson region, was damaged in an attack the previous day.

The Russian occupation authorities in Kherson also reported Ukrainian missile strikes targeting railroad supply lines in the region, claiming the attacks had been repulsed.

With reporting by Reuters and AP

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