Shelling around Kharkiv increased overnight without incursions by Russian forces, Ukrainian officials say

Denis Lapin in Kyiv, and Sarah Sirgany and Sam Kiley in Kharkiv

Russian forces have stepped up the shelling of areas on the outskirts of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, but its ground forces did not make any attempts at breaking the defensive lines, Ukranian officials said.

Shelling intensified in the past 24 hours, “in particular in the northernmost regions,” according to Oleg Sinegubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional military administration and the Ukrainian president’s office.

No fatalities had been reported but some people had been injured, Sinegubov added.

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

A CNN team in Kharkiv city heard several explosions Sunday night and Monday morning but noted it there was only a slight increase in the level of activity.

Some background: As the battle for control of the northeastern city escalates, Amnesty International has accused Russia of war crimes in Kharkiv.

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

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

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

On Friday, short video clips surfaced on pro-Russian channels and social media appearing to show the men detained at an unknown location. At the time it was not clear who was holding them.

Separately, a more than 50-minute edited video was published 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 is choosing not to broadcast the videos of US detainees because they show the men speaking under duress.

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