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Ukrainian Cities Hit By Deadly Air Strikes As Russian Forces Continue Push To Seize Donbas

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service July 08, 2022

Russian forces used more air strikes to push ahead with their effort to take control of the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine amid a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia has not yet started its campaign in earnest.

Three people were killed and five wounded in the Kharkiv region in one of the air strikes, authorities in the region said on July 7.

"We ask the residents of Kharkiv to be as careful as possible. Do not stay on the streets of the city without an urgent need. After all, the enemy is insidiously striking residential areas and civilian infrastructure," regional commander Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk military administration, said Russian attacks hit civilian targets in the industrial city of Kramatorsk and in Avdyivka, killing two people and injuring eight.

Kyrylenko announced before the strike on Kramatorsk that Russian bombardments had killed at least seven people over the past 24 hours.

Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk said one person had died and 11 were injured by Ukrainian shelling. It was not possible to independently verify the claims.

Moscow has shifted its attacks to Donetsk, having largely seized control of the Luhansk region, and is focusing on Kramatorsk and Slovyansk.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy noted the attacks on Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, and other cities of the Donbas in his nightly video address on July 7 and said Ukraine's partners have accurate information about its defense needs.

"The greater the defense aid to Ukraine now, the sooner the war will end with our victory and the less the losses of all countries of the world, the losses of the United States from Russian pressure on democratic societies," Zelenskiy said.

Earlier on July 7 Putin told lawmakers that Moscow had not yet begun anything serious in Ukraine and dared the alliance of countries that have coalesced around Ukraine to try to defeat Russia on the battlefield.

He accused "the collective West" of unleashing a war in Ukraine and said Russia's intervention marked the beginning of a shift to a "multipolar world."

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak responded by saying there is no plan by the "collective West."

The only plan is that of the Russian Army, "which entered sovereign Ukraine, shelling cities, and killing civilians. Everything else is primitive propaganda," he said on Twitter.

The fatalities in the Donetsk region came after Ukrainian officials reissued urgent pleas for civilians in to flee.

Slovyansk Mayor Vadym Lyakh said around 23,000 people remained from a prewar population of 110,000.

"Evacuation is ongoing. We take people out every day," he said.

"The city is well fortified," he added, claiming Russian forces had been unable to surround the city.

Slovyansk became Russia's target after they captured the nearby sister cities of Syevyerodonetsk and Lysychansk.

Ukraine said earlier it had regained control of Snake Island in the Black Sea. Senior military official Oleksiy Gromov said Ukrainian forces had "effectively reestablished" control over the island but did not specify whether there was a lasting military presence there.

A video of three soldiers raising a large Ukrainian flag on the island was posted on July 7 to several official Telegram channels. It was unclear when the video was filmed.

Russia said it pulled back from the symbolic island last week in a gesture of "good will," but has since continued targeting positions on the island.

The Russian Defense Ministry said early on July 7 that Russia attacked Snake Island after Ukrainian troops claimed to have raised their flag on the strategic Black Sea outpost.

Тhe attack destroyed part of the Ukrainian detachment on the island, said Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov, a Defense Ministry spokesman.

Serhiy Bratchuk, head of the Odesa regional administration, confirmed that the island had been attacked but did not provide details of damage or casualties.

The tiny island has strategic importance because of its proximity to the sea lanes to Ukraine's port of Odesa.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-russia-war-donbas- zelenskiy-putin/31933682.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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