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Ukraine is evacuating civilians from Kupiansk, in the northeast region, months after it forced Russian soldiers out of the city. The beleaguered city is now under siege again from a barrage of Russian artillery attacks.
Ukrainian gains in the Kharkiv region in September helped turn the war in Ukraine's favor at the time, but now Moscow's assault has made it impossible for normal life to return. The Institute for the Study of War in Washington said the attacks have blocked Ukraine from redeploying its troops from there to other points along the front lines in eastern Ukraine.
Russia's Defense Ministry said Sunday its forces had hit Ukrainian military positions around Kupiansk, and local Ukrainian officials confirmed there had been shelling in the region.
On Saturday, Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Ukrainian regional military administration, described the fighting near Kupiansk as some of the "hottest" at the moment and urged any remaining residents to leave.
"Enemy forces are relentlessly trying to attack the positions of our forces. That's why we announced mandatory evacuations," Syniehubov said on national television.
In his Saturday night video address, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy identified the Kharkiv region as one of several places experiencing "brutal" attacks "every day, every night."
"In less than two and a half months, over 40 enemy missiles have already struck Kharkiv," he said. Kharkiv is the country's second-biggest city and a regional capital, which Russian forces tried but failed to capture after it invaded Ukraine a year ago.
Fighting is also continuing 130 kilometers (81 miles) away in Bakhmut, both on its outskirts and on some of its streets, and in the southern city of Kherson, where Zelenskyy said, "Russian shelling took the lives of people in Kherson who simply went to a store to buy groceries."
Zelenskyy said that Russia "has become a synonym for terror and will be an example of defeat and fair punishment for this terror."
A sanctioning decree has been published, Zelenskyy said, with more than 280 companies and 120 people "who, through gambling business schemes, worked against Ukraine, withdrew funds from our state and financed various Russian schemes."
The British Defense Ministry said Sunday in its intelligence update on Ukraine that Russia is suffering "extremely heavy casualties," but their impact is not being felt in the richest cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Instead, the report said, the death rate as a percentage of the population in the eastern regions is "30-40 times higher than in Moscow."
Ethnic minorities are taking the biggest hit, according to the ministry. In the southern Astrakhan region, about 75% of the casualties are among minority Kazakhs and Tartars.
According to the Institute for the Study of War, the mounting casualties for Russia are having an impact in Moscow and are reflected in a loss of government control over the country's information sphere. The think tank said that Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova confirmed "infighting in the Kremlin inner circle."
Due to that strife, the Kremlin has effectively ceded control over the country's information space. Russia President Vladimir Putin has been unable to readily regain control of it, the institute said.
The British ministry said that while Russia continues to look for ways to increase its combat personnel, that "insulating the better-off and more influential elements of Russian society will highly likely remain a major consideration."