Russia increased pressure on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, while the Ukrainian military claimed to have repelled some advances.
Ukraine said Russian artillery had killed at least eight civilians in the area in the past 24 hours and injured 25.. Pro-Russian separatists said Ukrainian attacks killed four civilians on their side of the front line.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces reported that soldiers stopped enemy units advancing towards Sloviansk, a city in Donetsk, one of two Donbas provinces whose capture is among Moscow’s main objectives. Also claimed to have repelled Russian attacks on a city and town north of Kharkivjust a few kilometers from the Russian border.
Ukraine’s presidential office noted that most of the civilian deaths occurred in Donetsk province, where the governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said that two people died in the city of Avdiivka. The cities of Sloviansk, Krasnohorivka and Kurakhove each reported one civilian dead.
“All crimes will be punished,” the governor wrote on social media.
Kyrylenko on Tuesday urged the province’s more than 350,000 remaining residents to flee, as the evacuation of Donetsk was necessary to save lives and allow the Ukrainian Army a better defense against the Russian advance.
Donetsk is part of Donbas, a largely Russian-speaking industrial area where Ukraine’s most experienced soldiers are concentrated. Pro-Russian separatists have battled Ukrainian forces and controlled much of Donbas for eight years.
Before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, the two self-proclaimed breakaway republics. On Monday, Putin declared the complete seizure of Luhansk, after Ukrainian soldiers withdrew from the last town under his control in the province.
The governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai, denied yesterday that the Russians had completely taken over the province. Fighting continued in villages around Lysychansk, the town from which Ukrainian soldiers withdrew and which Russian troops took on Sunday, he said.
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