Live Updates: Russia’s War in Ukraine

A Russian ballistic missile reportedly hit the Saltiv tram depot in Kharkiv, northern Ukraine, on June 18. (Vyacheslav Madiyevskyi/Ukrinform/ABACA/Reuters)

Russian forces stepped up shelling of areas on the outskirts of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, but its ground forces made no attempt to breach defensive lines, Ukrainian officials said.

The shelling has intensified in the past 24 hours, “especially in the northernmost regions”, according to Oleg Sinegubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional military administration and the office of the Ukrainian president.

No fatalities were reported, but some people were injured, Sinegubov added.

“On the line of contact in the Kharkiv region, the enemy is mainly focused on defense,” Sinegubov said. “Our defenders are holding their positions firmly.”

A CNN crew in the city of Kharkiv heard several explosions on Sunday evening and Monday morning, but noted that there was only a slight increase in the level of activity.

A bit of context: As the battle for control of the northeastern city intensifies, Amnesty International has accused Russia of war crimes in Kharkiv.

In a 40-page report published last week, the rights group documented the alleged use of cluster munitions and other indiscriminate artillery means.

The report came days after two US volunteers fighting for Ukraine – who have since been taken into custody by Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk – went missing on June 9 during a battle north of Kharkiv.

US citizens Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, were interviewed by Russian broadcaster RT at a so-called internment center Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on Friday after being captured last week, according to a report by RT.

On Friday, short video clips surfaced on pro-Russian channels and social media appearing to show the men being held at an unknown location. At the time, it was unclear who held them.

Separately, an edited video of more than 50 minutes was posted on Saturday of Drueke and Huynh being interviewed by HelmCast, a pro-Russian Serbian nationalist YouTube channel.

The DPR did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the detention of Drueke and Huynh.

CNN chose not to air the videos of American detainees because they show men speaking under duress.

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