Russia is taking ground, but Ukraine's people are unwavering

  • In World
  • 2022-05-30 12:44:52Z
  • By CBS News

Khriviy Rih, Ukraine - Russia is using its devastating firepower advantage over Ukraine to try to breach the country's defenses, slowly but steadily seizing more ground in its eastern industrial heartland, just across the Russian border. Vladimir Putin's forces have been hammering Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv, with artillery as ground troops take more and more small villages across the Donbas region. As CBS News correspondent Imtiaz Tyab reports, the Russian forces are going street by street, village by village in their bid to conquer the entire Donbas.

Ukraine's prime minister says 10 times more civilians have been killed since Putin launched the invasion on February 24 than military personnel, and as Russia steps up its offensive in the east, it's feared the toll will only rise.

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President Zelenksyy visited Kharkiv over the weekend. The major city is under Ukrainian control, but battles are still raging across the region, and as Tyab reports, Ukrainian troops defending it are outnumbered 7 to 1 by Russian forces. While Russia's offensive may now be focused more to the north, there's no greater reminder of the horror that Moscow's siege tactics have inflicted than in the southern city of Mariupol. New video from the decimated port city appears to show mass graves stretching as far as the eye can see. The pain for the few people who remain in Ukraine's razed towns and cities can be unbearable. So it was a show of strength and determination by Zelenskyy to visit Kharkiv over the weekend - ground that his troops just wrestled back from Russia a couple weeks ago. Zelenskyy hadn't been seen outside the Kyiv region since Russia's invasion began more than three months ago. He was greeted with near total devastation.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the Kharkiv region for the first time since Russia launched its invasion of his country, May 29, 2022.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the Kharkiv region for the first time since Russia launched its invasion of his country, May 29, 2022.  

But as Russia wages its war of attrition, the Ukrainian people are the country's most potent secret weapon.

CBS News visited a facility in the town of Kryvyi Rih, in southern-central Ukraine, where women were working hard to stitch together body armor vests for the troops on the front lines. Kryvyi Rih Deputy Mayor Serheii Miliutin told Tyab that everyone working there that day "has loved ones in the military, so we're careful to make things as high-quality as possible."

The labor of love couldn't be clearer. Either could most Ukrainians' feelings about Vladimir Putin. Outside another volunteer center in the area, CBS News saw a mock tombstone bearing the Russian leader's name.

Local volunteer Oleg Zaboyak showed Tyab's team around the facility, where he and others were turning old household plastics into camouflage for Ukrainian snipers.

Some of the most vital work in Ukraine's war effort is being done in centers like that all across the country. Tyab watched as women wove together camouflage netting to cover vehicles and troops on the battlefield.   Valentyna Kryvda said she and the others were doing anything they could to help. For her, that has meant "working here for three months without a single day off. Because we need to do this."   Despite taking heavy losses in Donbas, Ukrainian forces are counterattacking further to the south, claiming to have pushed back Russian troops near three villages around the major, Russian-occupied city of Kherson over the weekend.

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