Greece, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) As Vladimir Putin’s forces adopted more ruthless war strategies, Russia intensified its bombing of the largest cities in Ukraine by launching missiles at targets in inhabited areas.
From 4 a.m. on 24 February 2022, when the Russian Federation’s armed attack against Ukraine started, to 24:00 midnight on 6 June 2022 (local time), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 9,394 civilian casualties in the country: 4,253 killed and 5,141 injured.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, denounced Moscow’s savage attack on the Donbas, where it has redirected its forces after failing to seize Kyiv, and warned that its bombardment might render the entire region “uninhabited.”
He declared that Russia was clearly pursuing a genocidal policy with all of this, including the mass killings of civilians and the deportation of his people.
Parts of the Donbas have been under the authority of pro-Moscow rebel forces since 2014, but Russia now seems determined to annex the entire area.
The Russian offensive in Ukraine has sparked political, economic, and humanitarian shockwaves that have upended the post-World War II order in Europe and brought about the most extensive sanctions regime ever put in place against a significant global economy.
Zelensky wrote on Twitter: “What is the point of saying ‘never again’ for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar? At least 5 killed. History repeating . . . ”
It was the largest city in Luhansk or Donetsk that Ukrainian authorities were still in control of on the eve of the conflict. The siege of Mariupol, which Kyiv has labeled a war crime, has been the worst humanitarian calamity of the conflict.
Despite images indicating extensive destruction of civilian areas and tales of food, water, and medication shortages, the city had weathered Russian bombardments for almost two months.
Among incidents that drew international outcry was the bombing of a maternity hospital on March 9 and the destruction of the city’s main drama theatre. In both bombardments, the number of civilians killed is still to be determined.
Russia denied targeting people and said that incidents like the theater explosion and the strike on the maternity facility were fabricated to cast blame on Russia without providing any supporting documentation.
International journalists and aid workers cannot enter the city safely, thus it is impossible to count the number of civilian losses in total. Satellite images show that nearly the 50% of the city buildings have been utterly destroyed.
The port city on the Sea of Azov has significant strategic importance for Russia since it is a section of a land bridge between the Crimean peninsula, which Russia invaded, with the Donbas separatist republics in eastern Ukraine.
A Turkish cargo ship had left Ukraine’s Russian-occupied port of Mariupol after a round of “constructive” grain talks with Moscow, Turkey’s defence ministry said on Wednesday 22/06/2022, without specifying if it was carrying wheat.
Luhansk and Donetsk
With the stated intention of “liberating” the former industrial heartland known as Donbas, Russian forces are bringing towns and cities in eastern Ukraine to the ground.
Vladimir Putin is now seeking military success in the mostly Russian-speaking east where he falsely accuses Ukraine of committing genocide after abandoning his drive to seize the nation’s capital Kyiv and its second-largest city Kharkiv.
By the end of March, the Kremlin asserted authority over 54% of Donetsk and 93% of Luhansk, though this claim was undoubtedly exaggerated.
Russian forces and militants backed by Moscow advanced further in eastern Ukraine, closing in on the city of Lysychansk, the main bastion of Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region. Russia causing ‘catastrophic destruction’ in Lysychansk, said the governor. Russian heavy artillery is shelling Lysychansk intensively, but Ukrainian forces are holding the ground there, he added.
The Russian military has taken control of the Kherson region to the north and west of Crimea as well as a portion of Zaporizhzhia, and it is advancing in Luhansk and Donetsk and digging in in other southern districts.With the conquest of Mariupol, Russia has already established a land route connecting Crimea to its border. In addition, Russia now has control of Crimea’s water supply and is the largest power plant in Europe.