War in Ukraine, Day 134 | Intense shelling to the east, hit Kramatorsk

(Kramatorsk) Russian forces on Thursday shelled several towns in Donbass, a basin in eastern Ukraine they are attempting to fully capture, including Kramatorsk, where at least one civilian was killed, local authorities said.

Posted at 9:18 am
Updated at 10:40am

Nicolas GARCIA
Media Agency France

In Kramatorsk, the capital of the Ukrainian-controlled part of Donbass, the blast left a large crater in a courtyard between a hotel and apartment buildings, AFP journalists noted. They saw the body of a killed and injured person and two burning cars.

“Air raid on the central part of Kramatorsk. There are victims,” the city’s mayor Oleksandr Gontcharenko announced on Facebook, urging residents to stay in the shelters.

This “deliberate attack on civilians” caused “one dead and six wounded,” Donetsk province governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told Telegram, specifying that these figures are preliminary and that “six buildings were damaged, including a hotel and a residential building »

“I ask everyone: Evacuate! The evacuation is temporary, we must save lives now,” he added.

The Russians, who have been advancing into Donbass in recent weeks, their priority target since withdrawing from near Kyiv in late March, claim to have taken full control of Luhansk province, one of the two form mining districts, just days ago .

The Russians “have not yet reached the borders of the region,” denied the province’s governor Serguiï Gaïdaï on Thursday, accusing the Russians of forcibly recruiting residents of the cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lyssytchansk under their control by promising them a Work.

“No more choice”

Moscow’s forces are now attempting to seize the other province, Donetsk, to occupy all of Donbass, which Moscow-backed separatists have partially controlled since 2014.

Donetsk province governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported that at least seven civilians were killed by multiple artillery and rocket launchers in multiple locations on Wednesday.

In that province, after four and a half months of conflict, Sloviansk and its twin city of Kramatorsk are seen as the next targets for Russian forces in their plan to conquer Donbass.

On Tuesday, Russian rockets fell in central Sloviansk, partially burning down and destroying a market, killing at least two people.

On Wednesday, Sloviansk Mayor Vadim Liakh indicated that the city’s evacuation, encouraged by local authorities, was “underway”.

“I’m sending my wife and then I have no choice, I’m going to the army tomorrow,” Vitaly, 30, told AFP news agency after saying goodbye to his wife Svitlana, who was on a bus bound for Dnipro with about 150 women on Wednesday (middle) departed and children on board.

“They had to go, after what happened yesterday (Tuesday) they hit the city center,” Vitaly said, saying he was convinced Sloviansk would not fall into Russian hands and that his family would return there.

As of Wednesday, there were still around 23,000 of the roughly 110,000 residents it had before the conflict, its mayor said, counting 17 dead and 67 injured since hostilities began.

In the south, the Russians are still shelling the Mykolayiv region and fighting is raging around the city of Kherson, which they have occupied since the beginning of the war and where they are trying to prevent Ukrainian counterattacks, sources in Kyiv say.

The Ukrainian army finally confirmed on Thursday that it had regained control of Snake Island in the Black Sea after surrendering its flag there a few days earlier after Russian forces withdrew from that small, iconic area.

Moscow, for its part, claimed to have carried out an attack there with “high-precision missiles” in the morning that killed some of the Ukrainian soldiers who went there to raise a flag and forced the survivors to flee.

G20 under power

While in western Europe eyes were on London on Thursday, where British Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to step down from power, the Ukrainian presidency thanked him for his support in “the most difficult cases” of the Russian invasion. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his “sadness”.

A meeting of foreign ministers of the world’s twenty largest economies (G20) began Thursday on the island of Bali in Indonesia in the presence of Russia and Ukraine’s western allies.

Given the tensions between the two camps and the presence of the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, “we expect a pretty tough confrontation,” a French diplomatic source said.

The European Union has warned that it opposes Russia using this G20 as a “platform for its propaganda” on the conflict in Ukraine.

However, a US official said he expected that “virtually all G20 countries” would agree to initiatives to address global food insecurity and energy price volatility caused by the war.

He added that a joint G20 statement on Ukraine is not possible due to Russia’s participation in the summit.

On Thursday, on the eve of the interministerial meeting in Bali, Lavrov met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi there. According to the Russian ministry, the two parties considered the “unilateral sanctions bypassing the UN” to be “unacceptable”.

China, which has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has maintained good relations with the Kremlin despite efforts by Western countries to isolate it.

For her part, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern blasted the UN’s “failure” to prevent war in Ukraine and accused Russia of forcing its “morally corrupt” position and “illegal war” on the Security Council.

Mme Ardern, who has long criticized the veto power of the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, US, France, Britain, Russia), renewed his call for UN reform.

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