Ukrainian Zelenskyy announces mandatory evacuation of Donetsk region

Ukrainian Zelenskyy announces mandatory evacuation of Donetsk region

Firefighters work on an apartment building destroyed by a Russian missile attack as the Russian attack on Ukraine continues on Friday July 29 in Kramatorsk, Ukraine. (Press service of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration via Portal)

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KIEV (Portal) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Saturday his government has ordered mandatory evacuations of people in the eastern Donetsk region, which is the scene of fierce fighting with Russia.

In a late-night televised address, Zelenskyy also said hundreds of thousands of people still in combat zones in the larger Donbass region, which includes both Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk region, would have to evacuate.

“The more people are leaving the Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill them,” he said, adding that residents leaving the area would receive compensation.

Separately, domestic Ukrainian media quoted Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk as saying the evacuation must take place before the start of winter as the region’s natural gas reserves have been destroyed.

Zelenskyy said hundreds of thousands of people still lived in areas of Donbass where there was fierce fighting.

“Many are refusing to go, but it has yet to be done,” the president said. “If you have the opportunity, please talk to those who are still in the combat zones in the Donbas. Please convince her that it is necessary to leave her.”

Earlier Saturday, Ukraine’s military said more than 100 Russian soldiers were killed and seven tanks destroyed in fighting in the south on Friday, including in the Kherson region, which was the focus of Kyiv’s counter-offensive in that part of the country and a key compound in Moscow stands supply lines.

Rail services to Kherson across the Dnipro River have been disrupted, the military’s Southern Command said, potentially further isolating Russian forces west of the river from supplies in occupied Crimea and to the east.

South of the town of Bakhmut, which has cited Russia as a key target in Donetsk, the Ukrainian military said Russian forces “partially succeeded” in gaining control of the settlement of Semyhirya, storming it from three directions.

“He settled on the outskirts of the settlement,” the military’s evening report said, referring to Russian forces.

Defense and intelligence officials from Britain, which has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies since Moscow invaded its neighbor on February 24, portrayed Russian forces struggling to keep the momentum going.

Ukraine has used western-supplied long-range missile systems in recent weeks to severely damage three bridges across the Dnipro, cut off the city of Kherson and – according to British defense officials – leave the Russian 49th Army on the west bank of the river highly vulnerable.

Pro-Ukrainian Kherson region governor Dmytro Butriy said fighting continued in many parts of the region and Berislav district, northwest of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station, was particularly hard hit.

“In some villages not a single house has survived, all infrastructure has been destroyed, people live in basements,” he wrote on Telegram.

Just north of Lysychansk, which Moscow’s forces took in early July after weeks of fighting, Ukrainian partisans destroyed a railway junction box near the Russian-controlled town of Svatove on Friday night, making it difficult for Moscow to transport ammunition to the front lines by train, the said Luhansk Regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai in an online post.

Portal could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

Officials in the Russian-appointed administration that ran the Kherson region earlier this week dismissed Western and Ukrainian assessments of the situation.

On Friday, the British Ministry described the Russian government as “growing in desperation” after losing tens of thousands of soldiers in the war. The head of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency MI6, Richard Moore, added Twitter that Russia is “running out of steam”.

deaths in prison

Ukraine and Russia exchanged allegations early Friday over a missile attack or explosion that appeared to have killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the frontline town of Olenivka held by Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Donetsk.

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Saturday released a list of 50 Ukrainian POWs killed and 73 wounded in an alleged Ukrainian military strike using a US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov said “all political, criminal and moral responsibility” rests with Zelenskyy, “his criminal regime and Washington that supports them.”

Ukrainian forces denied responsibility, saying Russian artillery targeted the prison to cover up the mistreatment of those held there. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Friday Russia had committed a war crime and called for an international conviction.

Portal could not immediately verify the different versions of events, but some of the deaths were confirmed by Portal journalists who visited the prison.

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

The United Nations is ready to send experts to Olenivka to investigate if they get the agreement of both parties, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was seeking access and had offered to help evacuate the wounded.

A charity linked to Ukraine’s Azov regiment said on Telegram it was not immediately able to confirm or deny the authenticity of Russia’s list of people killed and wounded.

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



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