War in Ukraine: what to remember on the 139th day of the Russian invasion

War in Ukraine: what to remember on the 139th day of the Russian invasion

THE ESSENTIAL

Ukrainian rescuers on Monday continued to search for survivors in the rubble of an apartment building gutted by a Russian strike that killed at least 15 people in eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces are trying to consolidate their hold. . The strike occurred at night in Chassiv Iar, a town of some 12,000 inhabitants in the Donetsk region, which Russian troops are seeking to conquer.

  • 15 people died in the Donetsk region after a Russian strike on an apartment building.
  • Volodymyr Zelensky condemned “everyone who orders such strikes, everyone who carries them out targeting our ordinary cities, kills absolutely deliberately”
  • Worried about arms trafficking, EU steps up cooperation with Moldova

AFP journalists saw dozens of rescuers working in the rubble of the partially destroyed building, helped by a mechanical digger. “During the rescue operations, 15 bodies were discovered on the spot and five people were able to be extracted from the rubble,” the local rescue services said on Facebook, adding that they had made contact with three people trapped under the ruins. “At least 30 people are under the rubble,” Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram. The four-story building was hit by a Russian Hurricane missile, he said.

“I was in the bedroom, I came out and everything started to shake, to collapse. What saved me was the wave of the explosion that propelled me, bleeding , in the toilets”, testified a resident interviewed by AFP, refusing to give her name.

According to Pavlo Kyrylenko, at least 591 civilians have been killed and 1,548 others injured so far in the Donetsk region since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24. On Friday, he said Moscow was preparing “new actions” in the east. In his speech on Sunday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned “all those who order such strikes, all those who carry them out targeting our ordinary cities, our residential areas, kill absolutely deliberately”, and promised to bring to justice. The Russian army, which announced in early July that it had taken control of the Lugansk region, is now targeting Donetsk to occupy the entire Donbass mining basin.

Offensive preparations

It has been partially controlled since 2014 by separatists backed by Moscow after the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula. In Donetsk, “there are signs that enemy units are preparing to intensify combat operations in the direction of Kramatorsk and Bakhmut,” the Ukrainian general staff said in its update on Monday morning. The Ukrainian military reported heavy shelling throughout eastern Ukraine, but a pause in Russian ground attacks.

“The enemy in our operational area remains behind the lines of defense, does not advance by land, does not have the possibilities and capabilities to create new strike groups,” the Southern Operational Command said early Monday. . In Kharkiv (northeast), the second largest city in the country, Governor Oleg Synegoubov reported on Telegram new missile fire which hit an “educational establishment” and a house, injuring one person. “The Ukrainian army is holding its own, repelling attacks from various directions,” President Zelensky said. “But, of course, there is still a long way to go before the Russian losses actually cause such a break.”

Ukrainian forces struck a Russian base in the occupied southern region of Kherson, the Ukrainian general staff said, without giving further details. For its part, the Russian Ministry of Defense accused in a statement on Saturday the Ukrainians of installing men and weapons in schools and civilian buildings in several localities in the territory of Donetsk and Kharkiv.

The European Union strengthens its cooperation with Moldova

The European Union strengthened its cooperation with Moldova on Monday to help it control its border with Ukraine and prevent the risk of arms trafficking from this country at war, worrying about seeing military equipment diverted provided by Westerners. European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson announced the creation of a “support hub for internal security and border management in Moldova”, an EU candidate country, during a meeting in Prague of European Ministers of Interior with their Moldavian and Ukrainian counterparts.

It is a framework for the exchange of information and police cooperation on the ground involving the EU Member States, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as the Europol and Frontex agencies. The first meeting scheduled for Monday, involving twelve member states, is devoted to firearms trafficking. “We have some indications” on a traffic, declared Ylva Johansson. “We know how many weapons there are in Ukraine and of course not all of them are always in good hands,” she added, without further details.

The EU is concerned at seeing the scenario of war in the former Yugoslavia repeat itself. “We still have problems with the trafficking of arms from (this region) for the benefit of organized crime, which fuels the violence of criminal networks in the European Union”, underlined the Swedish commissioner. “So we have to prepare together from the start,” she said.

In addition to this trafficking, weapons from the former Yugoslavia have also ended up in the hands of jihadists who have hit Western Europe in recent years, such as during the Paris attacks of November 13, 2015. “We stand by the border with Moldova, because that is where arms trafficking can mainly come from,” said the acting director general of the European coast and border guard agency (Frontex), Aija Kalnaja. Cooperation with Moldova also concerns the fight against networks of migrant smugglers, human trafficking, drug trafficking and terrorism.

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