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Evacuations as Russia advances in Ukraine’s Donbass

#Evacuations #Russia #advances #Ukraines #Donbass

The evacuation of civilians from Sloviansk continued on Wednesday as Russian troops advanced on the eastern Ukrainian city in their campaign to control the Donbass region while Ireland’s prime minister was visiting Kyiv.

Sloviansk has been heavily bombed in recent days as invading Russian forces pushed west.

“Twenty years of work; all is lost. No more income, no more assets,” Yevgen Oleksandrovych, 66, told AFP as he surveyed the site of his auto parts store that was destroyed in Tuesday’s strikes.

AFP journalists saw rockets slam into Sloviansk’s market square and surrounding streets, and firefighters struggled to douse the resulting blazes.

Around a third of the market in Sloviansk appeared to have been destroyed, and locals came to see what was left among the charred debris.

The remaining part of the market was functioning, and a trickle of shoppers came out to buy fruit and vegetables.

“I will sell it and that’s it, and we stay at home. We have cellars, we will hide there. What can we do? We have nowhere to go, nobody needs us,” said 72-year-old greengrocer Galyna Vasyliivna.

Mayor Vadym Lyakh said around 23,000 people were still in Sloviansk but claimed Russia was unable to encircle the city.

“Since the start of hostilities, 17 residents of the municipality have died and 67 have been injured,” he said.

“The evacuation is underway. We bring people out every day. About 23,000 residents remain. Many of the evacuees were taken by bus to the city of Dnipro, further west.

“The city is well fortified. Russia fails to penetrate the city,” he said.

Vitaliy, a plumber, said his wife and their daughter, who is six months pregnant, were evacuated from Sloviansk on Wednesday.

“I’m afraid for my wife,” he told the AFP news agency.

“Here, after what happened yesterday, they hit the city center; they have to go.

“I sent my wife and I have no choice: tomorrow I will join the army.”

– Russians push west –

Eastern Donbass consists mainly of the Lugansk region, which Russian forces have almost completely captured, and the south-western Donetsk region – the current attack point of Moscow and the location of Sloviansk.

The fall of Lysychansk in Lugansk on Sunday, a week after the Ukrainian army also withdrew from the neighboring town of Severodonetsk, freed Russian troops to advance west towards Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in Donetsk.

On Tuesday, after days of shelling, they made their first approach to the smaller town of Siversk, which lies between Lysychansk and Sloviansk.

Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said Russian forces killed five civilians and wounded 21 in the region on Tuesday.

Lugansk Governor Sergiy Gayday claimed Ukrainian forces were holding back Russian troops on the Lugansk and Donetsk borders.

“Yesterday the Russians wanted to advance towards the Donetsk region and cut the Bakhmut-Lysyhansk highway running through Bilogorivka, but they have nothing to report to their bosses. The enemy had to withdraw due to pressure from our army,” he said.

He insisted that Russia does not control the entire Lugansk region and said they had not reached the administrative border.

“Fighting is still going on in two villages,” he said.

– Irish Prime Minister visits Kyiv –

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his evening address on Tuesday that he continued to urge Western allies to upgrade missile defense systems as airborne siren alerts sounded across much of the country, including the capital.

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin was in Kyiv on Wednesday to express solidarity with Dublin and to discuss how Ireland can support the country’s needs.

“The Irish people stand with Ukraine and her people in the face of Russia’s immoral and unprovoked war on terror,” he said.

“The bombing and attacks on civilians are nothing more than war crimes.”

Martin said Ireland supports Ukraine’s aspirations for European Union membership.

The EU on Wednesday put a stronger focus on energy in the face of the Russian war in Ukraine.

“We must prepare for further gas supply disruptions, even a complete disruption of supplies with Russia,” EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament.

The EU has launched a €300 billion ($310 billion) plan to wean itself off Russian supplies of fossil fuels and is also investing heavily in switching the market to renewable sources.

Meanwhile, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has cited the possibility of nuclear war if the International Criminal Court decides to punish Moscow for alleged crimes in Ukraine since the February 24 invasion.

“The idea of ​​punishing a country that has the largest nuclear arsenal is absurd,” Medvedev, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said via messaging app Telegram.

“And possibly creates a threat to human existence.”

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#Evacuations #Russia #advances #Ukraines #Donbass

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