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Car seen in front of a building destroyed by Russian shelling in Zelene Pole village, Donetsk Region, eastern Ukraine on 31 May. ABACA/PA Images

Russian strikes on southern Ukraine city described as 'strongest so far'

At least one person has died after the overnight bombardments in Mykolaiv.

LAST UPDATE | 31 Jul 2022

AUTHORITIES IN UKRAINE’S southern city of Mykolaiv have said that at least one person is dead after widespread Russian bombardments overnight as Moscow continues to pummel the sprawling front line.

“Mykolaiv was subjected to mass shelling today. Probably the strongest so far,” the city’s mayor Oleksandr Senkevych wrote on Telegram.

“Powerful explosions were heard after one in the morning and around five in the morning.”

The governor of the region – where Ukrainian forces are looking to launch a major counter-offensive – said that according to preliminary information one person had been killed and two wounded in the strikes.

It comes as Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged civilians to evacuate the eastern Donetsk region, the scene of fierce clashes with the Russian military.

Attacks also pounded the northeastern regions of Kharkiv and Sumy, near the front line with the Russian forces.

“Today a whole succession of explosions took place… a few buildings are reportedly damaged,” Igor Terekhov the mayor of Ukraine’s second biggest city Kharkiv said.

Sumy regional chief Dmytro Zhyvytsky said that some 50 strikes yesterday evening had left one person dead and two wounded.

The governor of the Donetsk region, where Moscow is focusing the brunt of its attacks, said that three civilians were killed and eight wounded in shelling yesterday.

The eastern Donetsk region has faced the brunt of Russia’s offensive since its attack on Kyiv failed weeks into the invasion launched on February 24.

President Zelenskyy warned in his daily address last night that thousands of people, including children, were still in the region’s battleground areas, with six civilians killed and 15 wounded on Friday, according to the Donetsk governor.

“There’s already a governmental decision about obligatory evacuation from Donetsk,” Zelenskyy said, underscoring authorities’ calls to leave the besieged region in recent weeks.

“Leave, we will help,” Zelenskyy said. “At this stage of the war, terror is the main weapon of Russia.”

Official Ukrainian estimates put the number of civilians still living in the unoccupied area of Donetsk at between 200,000 and 220,000.

A mandatory evacuation notice posted yesterday evening 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, you cannot put them 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.

Zelenskyy, in his address, also once more pressed the international community, especially the United States, to have Russia officially declared a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

Deadly jail strike

The call came a day after a jail holding Ukrainian prisoners of war in Kremlin-controlled Olenivka was bombed, leaving scores dead, with Kyiv and Moscow trading blame.

Yesterday, Ukrainian human rights official Dmytro Lubinets said on national television 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 not yet obtained authorisation from the Russians, he said.

Russia’s defence ministry accused Kyiv of striking the Olenivka prison with US-supplied long-range missiles in an “egregious provocation” designed to stop soldiers from surrendering.

It said yesterday that the dead included Ukrainian forces who had surrendered after weeks of fighting off Russia’s brutal bombardment of the sprawling Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol.

The defence ministry said 50 Ukrainian prisoners were killed and 73 were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Zelenskyy accused Russia of “deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war”.

Gazprom cuts off Latvia

Also yesterday, Russian energy giant Gazprom suspended gas supplies to Latvia in the latest tightening of gas provision to European Union states, which have accused Russia of squeezing supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Latvia’s Economy Minister Ilze Indriksone told the LETA news agency that his country “was not counting on natural gas flows from Russia.”

Gazprom drastically cut gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline on Wednesday to about 20% of its capacity. It had reduced gas flows to Europe twice in June.

The Russian state-run company had earlier announced it would choke supply to 33 million cubic metres a day – half the amount it has been delivering since service resumed last week after 10 days of maintenance work.

© AFP 2022

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