Disputed and reclaimed villages between Mykolaiv and Kherson. ABACA/PA Images
russian invasion

At least two killed after 'massive' Russian shelling in Ukrainian city of Sloviansk

Moscow has launched a campaign of so-called Russification.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 5th 2022, 7:10 PM

AT LEAST TWO people were killed and seven more injured as Russian forces pounded the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk, local authorities said, as Moscow ramps up its assault on the Donbas region.

Mayor Vadim Lyakh said in a Facebook post that “massive shelling” had pummelled Sloviansk, which had a population of about 107,000 before Russian invaded Ukraine more than four months ago.

The mayor, who urged residents hours earlier to evacuate, advised them to take cover in shelters.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, which includes Sloviansk, said on Telegram that two people had been killed and seven others injured in shelling which the mayor said targeted the city’s market.

“Once again the Russians are intentionally targeting places where civilians assemble. This is terrorism pure and simple,” Kyrylenko said on Telegram, also urging local people to evacuate.

The barrage targeting Sloviansk underlined fears that Russian forces were positioned to advance farther into Ukraine’s Donbas region, a mostly Russian-speaking industrial area where the country’s most experienced soldiers are concentrated.

Sloviansk has taken rocket and artillery fire during Russia’s war in Ukraine, but the bombardment picked up in recent days after Moscow took the last major city in neighbouring Lugansk province, Lyakh said.

“It’s important to evacuate as many people as possible,” he warned this morning, adding that shelling damaged 40 houses on Monday.

The Ukrainian military withdrew its troops on Sunday from the city of Lysychansk to keep them from being surrounded.

Russia’s defence minister and Putin said the city’s subsequent capture put Moscow in control of all of Lugansk, one of two provinces that make up the Donbas.

The office of Ukraine’s president said the Ukrainian military was still defending a small part of Lugansk and trying to buy time to establish fortified positions in nearby areas.

The question now is whether Russia can muster enough strength to complete its seizure of the Donbas by taking Donetsk province, too.

russian-war-on-ukraine-destruction-in-sloviansk Ukrainian troops gathered outside a shelled building in Sloviansk on Sunday. Michal Burza Michal Burza

The General Staff of the Ukrainian military said Russian forces also shelled several Donetsk towns and villages around Sloviansk in the past day but were repelled as they tried to advance towards a town about 12 miles to the city’s north.

South of the city, Russian forces were trying to push towards two more towns and shelling areas near Kramatorsk.

Fighting raged in and around Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region today as Russian troops tried to build on recent battlefield gains, while Nato pressed ahead with Finland and Sweden’s historic membership bids.

With the war now well into its fifth month, Kyiv’s allies today committed to support Ukraine through what is expected to be a long and expensive recovery, and agreed on the need for broad reforms to boost transparency and battle corruption.

The talks in Switzerland heard that the rebuilding of war-shattered Ukraine is estimated to cost at least $750 billion.

But on the battlefield the conflict continued to wreak devastation, with Ukraine’s presidency reporting Russian shelling and missile strikes in several regions overnight.

‘Russia is here forever’

An official from Russia’s powerful FSB security services took over the government of the Moscow-occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine, Kremlin-installed authorities said today.

Sergei Yeliseyev, until now the deputy head of government in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, “became head of the government in the Kherson region”, said Vladimir Saldo, who heads the Russian occupational administration.

His government takes office today, he added.

A graduate of the FSB Academy, 51-year-old Yeliseyev served in the security services in unspecified functions, according to the Kaliningrad region website.

“Ukraine is forever in the past for the Kherson region. Russia is here forever,” the Moscow-installed authorities said on Telegram.

In Moscow, the defence ministry reported that over the past 24 hours, Russian forces have targeted the city of Kharkiv with “high-precision” weapons killing up to 150 Ukrainian servicemen.

The attack followed shelling in Donetsk, which Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday ordered his troops to continue assaulting as they bid to take total control of the Donbas.

In Brussels, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg announced the process to ratify Sweden and Finland as the newest members of the military alliance had formally launched.

switzerland-ukraine-conference Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, gives a statement by video during the round of national statements at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano. AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

“With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger and our people will be even safer as we face the biggest security crisis in decades,” he said in a joint press statement with the Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers.

Sweden and Finland both announced their intention to drop decades of military non-alignment status and become part of Nato in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.


To the southwest in the Moscow-occupied Kherson region, Russia’s troops were deploying helicopters and various artillery to try to stem Ukrainian counter-attacks.

“Ukrainian aviation and missile and artillery units continue to strike enemy depots and invaders’ concentrations, in particular in the Kherson region,” Ukraine’s armed forces added.

Kherson city, which lies close to Moscow-annexed Crimea, was the first major city to fall to Russian forces in February.

Moscow has since launched a campaign of so-called Russification, trying to introduce the ruble, giving out Russian passports and opening a first Russian bank at the end of June.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday reiterated calls for an increased supply of weapons from the West so Kyiv can keep up the resistance and its counter-offensives to regain lost territories.

At the meeting of Ukraine’s allies in Lugano he also urged the democratic world to unite in rebuilding his country.

Leaders from dozens of countries, international organisations and businesses today signed off on a declaration spelling out the principles and priorities of the reconstruction effort.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told the recovery conference the estimated $750 billion recovery bill should in part be funded by the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs.

“The Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction, and they should be held accountable for it,” he said.

© AFP 2022, with reporting from the Press Association

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