Ukraine fears repeat of Mariupol horrors elsewhere in Donbas

Moscow-backed separatists have pounded eastern Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region, claiming the capture of a railway hub as concerns grew that besieged cities in the region would undergo the same horrors experienced by the people of Mariupol in the weeks leading up to the port's capture.

Ukrainian officials renewed their appeals for more sophisticated Western-supplied weaponry. Without it, they said, Ukrainian forces wouldn’t be able to stop Russia’s offensive.

The fighting Friday focused on two key cities: Sievierodonetsk and nearby Lysychansk.

READ MORE: Police made 'wrong decision' during school shooting

Resident Alexander, 67, checks the flat of his neighbour destroyed by shelling in Kutuzivka, near Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Friday, May 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

They are the last areas under Ukrainian control in Luhansk, one of two provinces that make up the Donbas and where Russia-backed separatists have already controlled some territory for eight years.

Authorities say 1500 people in Sievierodonetsk have already died since the war's start scarcely more than three months ago.

“Massive artillery shelling does not stop, day and night,” Sievierodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Striuk said.

“The city is being systematically destroyed – 90 per cent of the buildings in the city are damaged.”

Striuk described conditions in Sievierodonetsk reminiscent of the battle for Mariupol, located in the Donbas’ other province, Donetsk.

Relatives and friends attend the funeral of Ukrainian serviceman Vitaliy Nejenits in Kharkiv cemetery, eastern Ukraine, Friday, May 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Now in ruins, the port city was constantly barraged by Russian forces in a nearly three-month siege that ended last week when Russia claimed its capture. More than 20,000 of its civilians are feared dead.

Before the war, Sievierodonetsk was home to around 100,000 people.

About 12,000 to 13,000 remain in the city,

Striuk said, huddled in shelters and largely cut off from the rest of Ukraine. At least 1500 people have died because of the war, now in its 93rd day.

The figure includes people killed by shelling or in fires caused by Russian missile strikes, as well as those who died from shrapnel wounds, untreated diseases, a lack of medicine or while trapped under rubble, the mayor said.

READ MORE: Harrowing twist after teacher killed in Texas school shooting

Relatives and friends attend the funeral of Ukrainian serviceman Vitaliy Nejenits in Kharkiv cemetery, eastern Ukraine, Friday, May 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

An assault was underway on Friday in the city’s northeastern quarter, where Russian reconnaissance and sabotage groups tried to capture the Mir Hotel and the area around it, Striuk said.

Hints of Russia’s strategy for the Donbas can be found in Mariupol, where Moscow is consolidating its control through measures including state-controlled broadcast programming and overhauled school curricula, according to an analysis from the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank.

General Phillip Breedlove, former head of US European Command for NATO, said Friday during a panel mounted by the Washington-based Middle East Institute that Russia appears to have “once again adjusted its objectives, and fearfully now it seems that they are trying to consolidate and enforce the land that they have rather than focus on expanding it.”

Resident Alexander, 67, sweeps the entrance of his building damaged by shelling in Kutuzivka, near Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Friday, May 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

But the relentless assaults in the Donbas also indicated Russia's desire to expand its dominion there. Ukrainian analysts said Russian forces have taken advantage of delays in Western arms shipments to step up their offensive there.

That aggressive push could backfire, however, by seriously depleting Russia’s arsenal. Echoing an assessment from the British Defence Ministry, military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said Russia was deploying 50-year-old T-62 tanks, “which means that the second army of the world has run out of modernised equipment.”

Russia-backed rebels said on Friday that they had taken over Lyman, Donetsk’s large railway hub north of two more key cities still under Ukrainian control.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych acknowledged the loss on Thursday night, though a Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesperson reported Friday that its soldiers countered Russian attempts to completely push them out.

READ MORE: China holds snap 100,000-person 'emergency meeting' over economy

A dog walks near a building destroyed by shelling in Kutuzivka, near Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Friday, May 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

As Ukraine’s hopes of stopping the Russian advance faded, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba pleaded with Western nations for heavy weapons, saying it was the one area in which Russia had a clear advantage.

“Without artillery, without multiple launch rocket systems we won’t be able to push them back,” he said.

Just south of Sievierodonetsk, volunteers hoped to evacuate 100 people from a smaller town. It was a painstaking process: Many of the evacuees from Bakhmut were elderly or infirm and needed to be carried out of apartment buildings in soft stretchers and wheelchairs.

Minibuses and vans zipped through the city, picking up dozens for the first leg of a long journey west.

“Bakhmut is a high-risk area right now,” Mark Poppert, an American volunteer working with British charity RefugEase, said.

“We’re trying to get as many people out as we can.”

A woman is carried from her home in an evacuation by volunteers of Vostok SOS charitable organisation in Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, Friday, May 27, 2022. Volunteers have been racing to evacuate as many civilians as possible, particularly the elderly and those with mobility issues, as Russian forces make advances in the region. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

In his nightly address to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had some harsh words for the European Union, which has not agreed on a sixth round of sanctions that includes an embargo on Russian oil.

Hungary, one of Moscow’s closest allies in the EU, is obstructing the deal.

Zelenskyy said Russia’s offensive in the Donbas could leave its communities in ashes, and he accused Moscow of pursuing “an obvious policy of genocide” through mass deportations and killings of civilians.

On Thursday, Russian shelling of Kharkiv, a northeastern city, killed nine people, including a father and his five-month-old baby, the president said.

Reporters saw the bodies of at least two dead men and four wounded at a subway station where the victims were taken.

READ MORE: Economists speculate whether Russia slashing interest rates is a PR stunt or show of strength

Two couples kiss during their reunion after three months of war-related separation at the Kharkiv train station in eastern Ukraine, Friday, May 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

To the north, neighbouring Belarus — used by Russia as a staging ground before the invasion — announced Friday that it was sending troops toward the Ukrainian border.

Some European leaders sought dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin about easing the global food crisis, exacerbated by Ukraine’s inability to ship millions of tons of grain and other agricultural products.

Italian Premier Mario Draghi said there were no breakthroughs during his Thursday conversation with Putin.

“If you are asking me if there are openings for peace, the answer is no,” Draghi told reporters.

Men work at repairing a building damaged by shelling in Makariv, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Moscow has sought to shift the blame for the food crisis to the West, calling upon its leaders to lift existing sanctions.

Putin told Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Friday that Ukraine should remove Black Sea mines to allow safe shipping, according to a Kremlin readout of their conversation; Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the mines near Ukraine’s ports.

Nehammer’s office said the two leaders also discussed a prisoner exchange and that Putin indicated efforts to arrange one would be “intensified.”

Related posts

Microbiome Therapeutics Market Size, Share, Price, Trends, Analysis, Report, Forecast 2023-2028


Global Stock Images Market Size, Share, Scope, Trends, Report and Forecast Period Of 2023-2028


The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Real Estate Agency in Karachi