Ukrainian troops have slowed Russian advance

Ukrainian troops have slowed Russian advance
(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

LONDON – A Western official says Ukrainian resistance has slowed Russia‘s advance almost to a halt, and Ukraine has repulsed Russia‘s attempts to take the strategic southern port of Mariupol despite weeks of bombardment.

But the official said Russian troops have not been pushed back from established positions, and had the capability to keep up a grinding war of attrition for some time – making a rapid breakthrough in negotiations aimed at ending the violence unlikely.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said Odesa, another strategic port on the Black Sea, was a key objective for Russia but there are no indications of an imminent siege.

Odesa has been spared major attack, though Russia has ships operating off the Black Sea coast. The U.S. also says Russia has increased naval activity in the northern Black Sea, but there are no indications at this point of an imminent amphibious assault on Odesa.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian photojournalist has gone missing in a combat zone near the country’s capital, raising fears he could have been injured, killed or taken captive by Russian forces.

The UNIAN news agency reported Tuesday that Maksym Levin has been unaccounted since March 13 when he contacted his friend from Vyshhorod near Kyiv. His friend, Markiyan Lyseiko, said Levin went to the area in his car to report on fighting there.

Lyseiko said Levin left his car near the village of Huta Mezhyhirska and was going to head to the village of Moshchun. Levin hasn’t contacted him ever since and hasn’t been seen online, Lyseiko said.

Levin has worked as a photojournalist and videographer for many Ukrainian and international publications.

The Associated PressThe Associated Press

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