Ukraine: “catastrophic destruction” in the East or Russia strengthens its grip
The Russian offensive on the Donbass continues unabated according to the Ukrainian authorities, who on Tuesday reported “catastrophic destruction” in Lyssytchansk, a neighboring town of Severodonetsk, where nearly 570 people are now entrenched in the Azot chemical plant.
On the diplomatic level, Moscow has again raised its tone against Lithuania by promising it “measures” with “serious negative consequences” for its population, after Vilnius had introduced during the weekend restrictions on the transit by rail of goods hit by European sanctions heading for Kaliningrad, a strategic and militarized Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea.
In the military theater, the governor of the Lugansk region (east), Serguiï Gaïdaï, reported in the morning of “fights (in progress) in the industrial zone of Severodonetsk” and “catastrophic destruction in Lysytchansk”.
A little earlier, Mr. Gaïdaï had declared on Ukrainian television that 568 people, including 38 children – mainly employees of the factory and their families, according to him – were now refugees inside the Azot factory.
The factory is emblematic of this industrial city which had around 100,000 inhabitants before the war and of which kyiv still claims to control around a third. The capture of the city by Moscow would be an important step towards the conquest of the entirety of Donbass, a mainly Russian-speaking region partly held by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
– The front is getting closer –
“The Russians want to completely conquer the Lugansk region”, which they already control almost completely “before (Sunday) June 26”, affirmed Mr Gaïdaï, “but they will not get there in five days”.
Undergoing daily bombardments, the region has for several weeks been the scene of violent artillery battles between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the Ukrainian army to “hold on”, judging that the outcome of the war will depend on its resistance and its ability to hold back the Russian army and inflict losses on it.
Several towns in Donbass still under the control of kyiv are nevertheless preparing for an advance by Russian troops, such as Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, east of Severodonestk. “The front has come closer in recent weeks, up to 15-20 kilometers”, explained to AFP Vadym Lyakh, mayor of Sloviansk, who hopes for the rapid arrival of “new weapons” including the Ukrainian army. requires.
“So far, everything is fine here, but it’s very hard psychologically when you see on television what is happening in other cities,” said Svitlana, 48, a butcher at the Kramatorsk market.
In southern Ukraine, “specialists from the transmission units of the Russian Armed Forces have connected and reconfigured to broadcast Russian channels the last of the seven television transmitters in the Kherson region”, conquered by Moscow from the first days of the war, according to a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry.
According to the text, one million inhabitants of the region now have “free” access to the main Russian channels, in particular those of the public audiovisual group VGTRK, which actively relays the Kremlin line.
– Attachment to Russia –
Since the region came under the control of Moscow, the occupying forces have been carrying out a policy of Russification of the territories there: the Russian currency, the rouble, has been introduced and Russian passports are beginning to be distributed.
According to the Russian state news agency TASS, one of the new pro-Russian officials of the Kherson region, Kirill Stremoussov, claimed that this territory could be attached to Russia, “by referendum”, “before the end of the year”.
Ukraine’s police chief for kyiv province said on television that the bodies of 1,333 Ukrainian civilians he said were killed by Russian forces had been found as of Tuesday, 213 of whom remain unidentified. Since Russian forces withdrew from the area, 300 people remain missing, he added.
In Oslo, the Nobel committee congratulated the Russian journalist Dmitri Mouratov, co-winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, for the auction of the medal which had been given to him when this award was awarded.
It was acquired by an anonymous buyer Monday in New York for 103.5 million dollars, to be donated to the Unicef program dedicated to Ukrainian children displaced by war. This sum smashes the records, all categories combined, for auctions of this kind.
“People need to understand that a conflict is going on and that we need to help the people who are suffering the most,” said Muratov, Russian editor of the independent investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta, explaining the reasons for the sale.
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