Ukraine orders mandatory evacuation in Donetsk region, scene of fierce fighting with Russia

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that his government was ordering mandatory evacuations of people in the eastern Donetsk region, the scene of fierce fighting with Russia.

In a late-night address, Zelensky also said that hundreds of thousands of people were still in war zones in the larger Donbass region, which includes Donetsk as well as the neighboring Luhansk region, who need to leave.

“The longer the more people leave the Donetsk region, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill,” he said, adding that the residents would be compensated.

Separately, domestic Ukrainian media outlets quoted Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk as saying that evacuation was needed before winter began as the region’s natural gas supply had been destroyed.

Zelensky said hundreds of thousands of people were still living in areas of the Donbass where fighting was fierce.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks at a news conference in Kyiv on Thursday. (Efrem Lukatsky / The Associated Press)

“Many refuse to go, but it still needs to be done,” he said.

“If you have the opportunity, please talk to those who still remain in the war zones in the Donbass. Please explain to them that it is necessary to leave.”

Fighting in the East, South of Ukraine

Earlier on Saturday, Ukraine’s military said more than 100 Russian soldiers were killed and seven tanks were destroyed in fighting in the south on Friday, including in the Kherson region that was part of the country as part of the Kyiv retaliation. The center is and is an important link in Moscow. supply lines.

The army’s southern command stated that rail traffic to Kherson on the Dnipro River was cut off, potentially separating occupied Crimea and supplies to Russian forces west of the river in the east.

South of the city of Bakhmut, which Russia has cited as a major target in Donetsk, the Ukrainian military said Russian forces had been “partially successful” in establishing control over the Semihyria settlement by storming from three directions.

“They established themselves on the outskirts of the settlement,” the army evening report said, referring to the Russian army.

Defense and intelligence officials from Britain, one of Ukraine’s most staunch allies since Moscow invaded its neighboring country on February 24, portrayed the Russian military as struggling to keep pace.

Ukraine has used Western-supplied long-range missile systems in recent weeks to badly damage three bridges across Dnipro, cut off the city of Kherson and – in the assessment of British defense officials – Russia’s 49th. The army has been left highly vulnerable on the west bank of the river.

The pro-Ukraine governor of the Kherson region, Dmitro Butry, said fighting continued in many parts of the region, and the Berislav district, northwest of the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant, was particularly hard hit.

“In some villages, not a single house is left, all infrastructure has been destroyed, people are living in basements,” he wrote on Telegram.

North of Lysychansk, which Moscow’s forces had captured in early July after weeks of fighting, Ukrainian partisans destroyed a railway junction box near the Russian-controlled city of Svatove on Friday night, leaving Moscow behind. It became difficult to move the ammunition to the front lines. By train, Luhansk regional government Serhi Gaidai said in an online post.

Reuters could not independently confirm the battlefield report.

Firefighters work at the site of a college badly damaged by a Russian missile attack in Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Saturday. (Sofia Gatilova/Reuters)

Earlier this week officials from the Russian-appointed administration running the Kherson region rejected Western and Ukrainian assessments of the situation.

On Friday the British ministry described the Russian government as “furiously desperate” after losing thousands of soldiers in the war. The head of the British MI6 foreign intelligence agency Richard Moore said Russia is “running out of steam.”

Allegations of death in prison

Ukraine and Russia exchanged charges early Friday over a missile attack or detonation that killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the frontline town of Olenivka, organized by Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Donetsk.

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Saturday published a list of 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war killed and 73 wounded in what it said was a Ukrainian military attack with a US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

Ministry spokesman Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov said that “all political, criminal and moral responsibility” rested with Zelensky, “his criminal regime and the Washingtons who support him”.

Satellite images show a prison in Olenivka on Wednesday, at the top, and after the attack on the facility on Saturday. (Maxor Technologies/Reuters)

Ukraine’s armed forces denied responsibility, saying Russian artillery had targeted the prison to hide the mistreatment of those held there. Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba said on Friday that Russia had committed a war crime and called for international condemnation.

Reuters could not immediately verify individual versions of events, but some of the deaths were confirmed by Reuters journalists who were jailed.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered his condolences in a phone call with Kuleba on Friday and said Washington was committed to “holding Russia accountable for the atrocities”, the US State Department said.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said the United Nations was ready to send experts to Olenivka to see if it was agreed to by both sides. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was seeking access and had offered to help evacuate the wounded.

A charity affiliated with Ukraine’s Azov Regiment said on Telegram that it was not able to immediately confirm or deny the authenticity of the Russian list of those killed and wounded.

Ukraine has accused Russia of atrocities against civilians and has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes. Russia denies targeting civilians and war crimes.

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