War in Ukraine, Day 133 | The evacuation of Sloviansk continues in the face of the Russian advance

(Sloviansk) Civilians on Wednesday continued the evacuation of the bombed city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine, the next target and priority of Russian forces in their plan to fully seize the Donbass Basin after four and a half months of conflict.

Posted at 7:49
Updated at 4:17 p.m

Nicolas GARCIA
Media Agency France

what you need to know

  • About 5.5 million Ukrainians have been registered as refugees in other European countries since the invasion began on February 24;
  • According to the International Organization for Migration, more than six million Ukrainians are internally displaced;
  • The Russian army tried to eliminate the last pockets of resistance in Luhansk on Wednesday;
  • Norway announces it has settled its dispute with Moscow over Svalbard;
  • Russia introduces heavy jail terms for calls to act against its security;
  • At least 11 civilians have been killed in Ukraine in the past 24 hours;
  • Ukrainian grain: Moscow recognizes control of Russian ship in Turkey;
  • Former Russian President Medvedev calls for the use of nuclear weapons;
  • Publication of a Macron-Putin interview: Moscow criticizes the violation of “diplomatic etiquette”.

“The evacuation is underway,” Mayor Vadim Liakh said. “There are currently 23,000 residents left” in Sloviansk, which had about 110,000 residents before the conflict, he added in a video. And “17 died and 67 were injured” since hostilities began.

In this city, which has been bombed for several weeks, “essential infrastructure is still functioning, but for a month there has been no central water supply network and a third of the city has been regularly without electricity,” Mr. Liakh stressed.

“My most important advice: Evacuate! ‘ began the governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, emphasizing that ‘during the week there is not a day without bombing’ in Sloviansk.

The strikes in particular destroyed almost a third of a market there, an AFP journalist noted. Local residents inspected the extent of the damage amid the charred debris. A little further on, some continued to sell their fruit and vegetables.

“We will stay at home. We have basements and we will hide there. what else can we do We have nowhere to go, nobody needs us,” said Galyna Vassyliivna, a vegetable vendor.

On Tuesday, Pavlo Kyrylenko said the latest Russian bombings, including the one that hit the market, left two dead and seven wounded.

Like other local officials, Mr Liakh claimed that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian breakthrough attempts towards Sloviansk and its twin city of Kramatorsk, the administrative center of the Kyiv-controlled part of Donbass.

According to him, “the Russians cannot approach” or “encircle” Sloviansk because they are blocked by Ukrainian soldiers about forty kilometers away.

“There is currently the most brutal confrontation between Sloviansk and Bakhmout,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his evening address.

Conquer the entire Donbass

After taking Lysytchansk on Sunday, the Russian army claims that almost the entire Luhansk province is in their hands, which the Ukrainians continue to deny. “Fighting is still going on in two villages,” Governor Serguiï Gaïdaï said on Wednesday.

The Russians are now trying to seize the second province of Donbass, Donetsk, in order to seize the entire mine basin that the pro-Russian separatists have partially controlled since 2014.

But for this they need to take Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the two largest cities preserved by the Ukrainians.

According to Mr. Gaidai, the Russian military is “constantly trying to build passages to transport even more material” into the Donetsk region.

On Tuesday they were about ten kilometers from Siversk, which they have been shelling for several days, and thus about fifty kilometers from Sloviansk.

On Wednesday evening, the separatist authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) announced by telegram that two children and three adults were killed and three others injured by Ukrainian shelling aimed at Makeyevka near Donetsk.

The Russian Defense Ministry also accused “Ukrainian nationalists” on Tuesday evening of preparing “a provocation using toxic substances” in the Donetsk region, including “large quantities of chlorine, which were brought to a mined filter station”.

The Russians are still bombing the Mykolaiv region (south), and strikes that killed at least two people on Tuesday and Wednesday, Ukrainian authorities denounce.

“The threat of missile fire in the Mykolayiv region persists” because Russia “keeps four ships with high-precision weapons in the Black Sea,” estimates the Ukrainian army.

But according to the President of Ukraine, this could change because “Western artillery weapons, which we received from our partners, have started to work very effectively” and “our defenders are dealing heavy blows to Russian logistics”.

fight against corruption

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday spoke of using nuclear weapons to better rule out any possibility of sanctions against Moscow by international justice while the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigates crimes of alleged wars committed in Ukraine.

“The very idea of ​​punishing a country that has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world is absurd in itself. And this potentially poses a threat to the very existence of humanity,” the current Vice President of the powerful Russian Security Council wrote on his Telegram account.

Russia “is not currently feeling any sanctions pressure as some allies are reluctant to activate them,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who received Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin in Kyiv on Wednesday.

“Our priority is airspace security. We expect the arrival of powerful anti-aircraft systems,” he said.

The Ukrainian President continues to demand more weapons from the countries that have supported him since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Tiny Lithuania announced on Wednesday that it is preparing to send a Turkish drone to Ukraine on Wednesday after raising 5.9 million euros to buy it and mobilize the population.

The Irish Prime Minister visited Borodyanka and Boutcha, two towns on the outskirts of the capital partially devastated by fighting in March when Russian forces stood on the outskirts of Kyiv before withdrawing to launch their offensive into eastern and southern Ukraine focus.

These two cities have become symbols of alleged war crimes committed by Russian soldiers in the conflict, which international justice says it wants to investigate.

On Tuesday evening in Lugano (Switzerland) ended an international conference aimed at outlining the outlines of Ukraine’s reconstruction, the cost of which Kyiv estimates at 750 billion dollars.

In their final declaration, allied nations, international institutions and the private sector pledged to “unreservedly support Ukraine on its way”.

But the use of those billions of dollars is worrying in a state paralyzed by corruption.

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