The Ukrainian president says Russia’s intensifying offensive has “completely destroyed” the eastern region.
Russia’s renewed offensive in Ukraine’s Donbas has destroyed the eastern region and turned it into “hell,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who accused Moscow of carrying out senseless bombing campaigns.
After Russia has failed to take Ukraine’s capital since launching a large-scale invasion in February, Russia is using massive artillery and armor to try to capture more territory in the Donbas, comprising the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, which Moscow claims on behalf of pro- Russian separatists.
“The occupiers are trying to exert even more pressure. It’s hell there – and that’s no exaggeration,” Zelenskyy said in a belated speech on Thursday.
He said 12 people were killed on Thursday in the “relentless and absolutely senseless bombardment” of the city of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region.
†[There are] constant strikes in the Odessa region, on the cities of central Ukraine. The Donbas has been completely destroyed,” he said.
“This is a deliberate and criminal attempt to kill as many Ukrainians as possible, to destroy as many homes, social facilities and businesses as possible.”
The defense ministry in Kiev said on Thursday that Russian forces prevented civilians in Donbas from fleeing into Ukraine-controlled territory.
Severodonetsk and its sister city Lysychansk are the last part of the Ukrainian resistance movement in the smaller of the two regions that make up the war zone of Donbas.
Russian forces have surrounded the two — cleaved by a river that marks a central war front — and are bombing them to try to reduce resistance and starve the inhabitants of supplies.
The residents who are still in the now haunted town are afraid to take more than a few steps outside their front door.
Nella Kashkina sat in her basement next to an oil lamp and prayed.
“I don’t know how long we can last,” the 65-year-old told AFP news agency.
“We are out of medicine and a lot of sick people – sick women – need medicine. There is simply no medicine at all.”
Russia is likely to bolster its operations in the industrial Donbas region once they secure the city of Mariupol, British military intelligence said early Friday.
Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig, reporting from Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, said emergency services are grappling with the extent of the casualties and damage in the city.
“Nowhere in Bakmut is it safe and people have become desensitized to the constant sound of artillery and shelling,” he said.
The mayor has told residents to evacuate the city as the Russian offensive intensifies.
“Those who remain have a choice: evacuate the city or hope to survive the Russian military attack,” Baig said.