Sloviansk mayor urges residents to flee city as Russia steps up shelling

The mayor of Sloviansk has called on its remaining residents to evacuate as the Russian invaders stepped up their shelling of the frontline Ukrainian city following the capture of Lysychansk on Sunday.

Vadim Lyakh said 40 houses had been shelled on Monday, a day after six people were killed and 20 injured in missile attacks aimed at one of the main population centres in the Donbas still outside Russian control.

“It’s important to evacuate as many people as possible,” Lyakh said in an interview with Reuters, noting that 144 people had been evacuated on Tuesday, 포함 20 어린이, from a city now deemed at risk from Russian bombardment.

Russia had concentrated its forces to capture the cities of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk between May and July, the last two cities in Luhansk province it did not control, through an unrelenting and often untargeted artillery barrage.

Ukraine said on Monday it had retreated from Lysychansk, prompting speculation that Russia would now focus on Sloviansk and Kramatorsk to the south, the two main cities in Donetsk held by Kyiv. The provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk make up Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region.

Sloviansk had a population of 107,000 and Kramatorsk 210,000 before the war. Despite the threat of a Russian attack, thousands had remained, reluctant to abandon their homes despite being just a few miles from the frontlines.

It is unclear if Moscow will immediately attempt to seize Sloviansk. The Russian president, 블라디미르 푸틴, said on Monday that Russian troops who fought in Luhansk needed to “take some rest and beef up their combat capability”.

화요일에, Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, said the war in Ukraine would continue until all Putin’s goals were achieved – but added that “the main priorities” for Moscow at the moment were “preserving the lives and health” of the troops, as well as “excluding the threat to the security of civilians”.

Ukraine hopes to bring forward recently obtained western weapons into the battlefield, most notably rocket artillery donated by the US and the UK, pointing to a critical point in the conflict in which Kyiv hopes to demonstrate it will be able to push the Russian invaders back.

“This is the last victory for Russia on Ukrainian territory,” Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the president, 볼로디미르 젤렌스키, said in a video posted online.

“Taking the cities in the east meant that 60% of Russian forces are now concentrated in the east and it is difficult for them to be redirected to the south,”그는 말했다. “And there are no more forces that can be brought in from Russia. They paid a big price for Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.”

Both sides suffered heavy losses in the battle for the two Luhansk cities, but Ukraine almost certainly more so because Russia, with as much as 10 times the artillery, was able to shell the defenders from a distance before moving in ground forces.

At one point Ukraine said it was losing around 150 people a day, and according to one estimate as many as 800 injured.

Four missiles hit the southern city of Mykolaiv on Tuesday, according to Roman Kostenko, an MP and special forces commander. Kostenko said infrastructure targets had been hit and some civilians suffered minor injuries.

“As they do every morning, Russia used their missiles as an alarm clock,” Kostenko said. “There were a few mornings when we woke up and didn’t hear any strikes. That was unusual. Today there were four missiles from either Kherson direction or from the Black Sea.”

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine its troops all but encircled Mykolaiv and its port on the Bug River, seizing the airport after advancing from the north-east. 하나, after weeks of fighting the Ukrainian army managed to push the Russians back, and the city has become a symbol of anti-Russian resistance

According to Ukrainian authorities, Mykolaiv province is still regarded as a strategic target by Moscow and central to its goal of annex Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, making it a “non-sea country”.

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