The renewed Russian offensive in Donbas has turned that region of eastern Ukraine into a “hell”, declared this Friday the president Volodimir Zelenski,. Following its failed attempt to conquer the capital, kyiv, Russia has focused its attacks on southern and eastern Ukraine, razing towns and villages.
(Also read: Russia will suspend gas supplies to Finland from Saturday)
Russian forces are trying to fully take over Donbas (east), a Russian-speaking area that has been partially controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists since 2014.
“In Donbas, the occupiers are trying to increase pressure,” Zelensky said during a speech on Thursday night. “It’s hell and it’s not an exaggeration,” he noted.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on Thursday that Russian forces were preventing civilians from leaving Donbas for areas controlled by the Ukrainian government.
In addition, twelve people died and another 40 were injured in a bombardment in the city of Severodonetsk (east), on which the Russian troops try to close the fence, reported the regional governor.
(Also: Ukraine: the G7 plan to recover the country in an accelerated way)
Russian forces are encircling that city and neighboring Lysychansk, separated from Severodonetsk by a river that marks the front lines of the war. Together they represent the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in the area.
The remaining inhabitants of Severodonetsk, a ghost town, are afraid to set foot on the street.
“I don’t know how long we can last,” said Nella Kashkhina, 65, sheltering in the basement of her building, complaining that “there are no medicines left.”
Russia says it is close to conquering all of Lugansk
For his part, Russian Defense Minister Serguei Shoigu said on Friday that Moscow was close to fully controlling the breakaway Lugansk regionin eastern Ukraine, and that more than 1,900 soldiers who were entrenched in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks surrendered.
“The liberation of the Lugansk People’s Republic is close to completion,” Shoigu said during a meeting with officials from his ministry and the army, broadcast on television.
(You can read: Russia assures that it is willing to resume negotiations with Ukraine)
Just before the start of its offensive in Ukraine, which began on February 24, the Russian government recognized the independence of the breakaway Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, which had been partially controlled by pro-Kremlin leaders since 2014.
The liberation of the Luhansk People’s Republic is close to completion
Shoigu also indicated that 1,908 Ukrainian soldiers, who had been entrenched for weeks at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, in southeastern Ukraine, had surrendered in recent days.
“The nationalists blocked in the factory began to surrender. Currently, 1,908 people have laid down their arms,” he declared.
Those soldiers had been entrenched for weeks in the underground galleries of the huge Azovstal steel plant and became a symbol of resistance to the Russian offensive.
In this regard, one of the commanders said Friday that the last Ukrainian soldiers entrenched in Mariupol received orders from kyiv to “stop defending the city.”
“The higher military command gave the order to save the lives of the military in our garrison and to stop defending the city,” said Denys Prokopenko, commander of the Azov regiment, one of the Ukrainian units present at the Mariupol steel mill.
Now, Ukraine wants to organize an exchange of prisoners of war, but the Russian authorities have reiterated several times that they consider at least some of them to be neo-Nazi fighters and not soldiers.
AFP and EFE
Russia prepares the ground for an extensive war in Ukraine
Life sentence sought for Russian tried for war crimes in kyiv
Mariupol falls to Russian hands after Ukraine abandons fighting in Azovstal
#Ukraine #describes #Donbas #hell #due #Russian #attacks