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As the United States decided on Thursday to cut American exports to three Russian airlines and the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council, British officials warned that Russian shelling in Ukraine was a prelude to a bigger assault.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said the country was targeting infrastructure to wear down Ukraine’s government and military before another attack.
In an intelligence update on Thursday, the ministry said “advancing offensive operations in eastern Ukraine is the main priority of the Russian military forces.”
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Russia, they said, appears to be targeting the “line of control” between areas of Donbass controlled by Ukraine and those held by separatists supporting Russia.
The UK said “Russian forces are likely to continue to face morale problems and supply and personnel shortages.”
The Russians have largely retreated around the capital kyiv and northern Ukraine.
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The warning comes as Ukraine told residents to leave the affected areas and urged Western nations helping their defense to send “weapons, weapons and weapons”.
“The more weapons we have and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more human lives will be saved,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said at NATO headquarters.
NATO Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg has called on countries belonging to the Western alliance to send more weapons to Ukraine.
While the countries have provided Ukraine with man-portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, they have been reluctant to supply planes, tanks or any other equipment that Ukrainian troops should be trained to use.
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On Wednesday, members of the House of Representatives passed legislation calling for a federal government report on evidence of war crimes committed during the war.
The United States also announced sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters and said it was toughening sanctions against Russian banks.
Britain has banned investment in Russia, pledging to end its dependence on Russian coal and oil by the end of the year.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday accused Ukraine of backtracking on proposals it had made on Crimea and Ukraine’s military status and said Washington and its allies had pushed the Ukraine to keep fighting.
Lavrov has said Russia intends to continue talks with Ukraine and the Kremlin has said it will decide whether Putin will attend a G20 summit later this year depending on how events develop.
The Kremlin continues to insist that its troops committed no war crimes and that Ukrainians staged images of streets lined with hundreds of bodies.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces removed corpses in an effort to cover up war crimes in areas still under their control.
“It’s just an attempt to hide the evidence and nothing more,” he said.
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The International Criminal Court opened an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine ahead of the grim findings.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.