President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has urged civilians to evacuate the frontline region of Donetsk as clashes with the Russian military and devastating airstrikes become more frequent.
Zelensky warned in his daily address that thousands of people, including children, were still in the region’s battlefield areas, with six civilians killed and 15 wounded on Friday, according to the Donetsk governor.
“There is already a government decision on the mandatory evacuation of Donetsk,” Zelensky said, underscoring calls by authorities to leave the besieged region in recent weeks.
‘Go, we will help you,’ said Zelensky. ‘At this stage of the war, terror is the main weapon of Russia.
“The more people leave the Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill.”
Official Ukrainian estimates put the number of civilians still living in the unoccupied area of Donetsk at between 200,000 and 220,000.
Donetsk, along with the neighboring Luhansk region, makes up the Donbas, the area of eastern Ukraine that Russian forces are hell-bent on seizing.
Donetsk has faced the brunt of Russia’s offensive since its assault on Kyiv failed weeks after the invasion launched on February 24.
Firefighters work at a site of a residential house destroyed by a Russian missile attack, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kramatorsk, Donetsk, Ukraine
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a bombed-out house in Bakhmut, Ukraine, on July 30, 2022.
Debris is shown after the shelling of a pre-trial detention center in the course of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, in the Olenivka settlement in Donetsk region, Ukraine, July 29, 2022.
Olha, wife of a supporter of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol, attends a rally on Saturday, July 30, demanding that world authorities recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism after killing Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) in a prison in Olenivka, outside Donetsk
Zelensky: “The more people leave the Donetsk region now, the fewer people will have time to kill the Russian army”
A mandatory evacuation notice posted Saturday night said the coming winter made it a matter of urgency, particularly for the more than 50,000 children still in the region.
“They need to be evacuated, they cannot be put in mortal danger in the winter without heating, light, without the ability to keep them warm,” Kyiv’s Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories said in a statement.
Zelensky, in his speech, also once again pressured the international community, especially the United States, to have Russia officially declared a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’.
The call came a day after a jail housing Ukrainian prisoners of war in an area controlled by the Kremlin Olenivka was bombedleaving dozens dead, with Kyiv and Moscow exchanging blame.
Zelensky accused Russia of “deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war,” as horrific images emerged showing burned shells of bodies lying among the charred remains of metal bunks inside the detention center.
On Saturday, Ukrainian human rights official Dmytro Lubinets said on national television that he had asked the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission to go to Olenivka.
The ICRC has made a request but has not yet obtained authorization from the Russians, he said.
The Russian Defense Ministry accused Kyiv of attacking Olenivka prison with US-supplied long-range missiles in a “heinous provocation” designed to prevent soldiers from surrendering.
He said on Saturday that those killed included Ukrainian forces who had surrendered after weeks of fighting Russia’s brutal shelling of the sprawling Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol.
The Defense Ministry said 50 Ukrainian prisoners were killed and 73 were taken to hospital with serious injuries.
At least forty Ukrainian prisoners of war have been killed in a Russian detention camp (pictured today after the attack)
Russian forces accused Kyiv of attacking Donetsk’s Olenivka prison overnight using US-supplied HIMARS rocket systems.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the international community for Russia to be officially declared a “state sponsor of terrorism.”
Also on Saturday, Russian energy giant Gazprom Suspended gas supply to Latvia in the latest tightening of gas supplies to European Union states, which have accused Russia of restricting supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Latvian Economy Minister Ilze Indriksone told the LETA news agency that her country “did not count on natural gas flows from Russia.”
Gazprom slashed gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline on Wednesday to around 20 percent of capacity. It had reduced gas flows to Europe twice in June.
The Russian state-owned company had earlier announced that it would reduce supply to 33 million cubic meters per day, half the amount it has been delivering since service resumed last week after 10 days of maintenance work.
Moscow and Kyiv accused each other of bombing a prison that housed Ukrainian prisoners of war
Russian missiles hit a school in the eastern city of Kharkiv
Russian attacks continue to rain down in southeastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities said this morning that Russian shelling had left one dead in southern Mykolaiv and another dead in eastern Bakhmut.
The death toll from a strike at a Mykolaiv bus stop on Friday rose to seven after two men died in hospital.
Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Kharkiv, three Russian S-300 missiles hit a school, Mayor Igor Terekhov said on Telegram on Saturday, adding that the main building was destroyed.
Early Sunday morning, Mykolaiv was hit again with “massive shelling, probably the heaviest ever,” according to Mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych.
‘Loud explosions were heard after 1pm and around 5am. Various objects were destroyed, residential buildings were damaged. Several fires broke out in the affected places.
Shortly after, Russia said a Ukrainian drone attack on its fleet in the Crimean port of Sevastopol wounded five people.
“This morning, the Ukrainian nationalists decided to spoil the Day of the Russian Fleet” which is celebrated on Sunday, the mayor of the Russian-annexed city, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said on Telegram.
A Ukrainian spokesman said that his country’s forces had set fire to grain fields around Mariupol so that the Russians could not use them.