By Washington Post
Rescuers on Sunday are searching for more than 24 people feared trapped under rubble, after Russian missiles hit a residential block in the eastern Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar, the regional governor says. Fifteen people are so far confirmed dead from the Saturday evening strike, in what Ukrainian presidential adviser Andriy Yermak called “another terrorist attack by the terrorist country.”
Elsewhere in Donetsk region, Russian forces continue offensive operations, with unsuccessful assaults northwest of the city of Slovyansk, according to analysts. Russia in recent weeks has seized the nearby cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk in its campaign to capture the country’s east, informing fears that Slovyansk could be next.
Ukrainian officials also appear to be preparing for conflict in the south as they seek to recapture territory from Moscow. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has instructed residents of the Russian-held Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions that they needed to evacuate – even if it meant going to Russia or annexed Crimea – because Ukrainian forces were set to “de-occupy” the territory.
Kharkiv province is probably a target for annexation by Russia, according to analysts from the Institute for the Study of War, citing Moscow’s declaration of the area as an “inalienable” part of Russia.
Following the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday criticized China’s “alignment” with Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, questioning how any country could be neutral in the face of such aggression.
Police in the southern city of Kherson said they had opened criminal proceedings against Russia over accusations that Russian forces “continue to purposefully destroy crops.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed more than a half-dozen of Kyiv’s foreign diplomats, including Andrij Melnyk, who has served as the country’s ambassador to Germany since 2014.
Russia has blocked online access to Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, in what appears to be the latest in its clampdown on Western media reporting and information, Reuters reported Sunday – although the reason and timing were not immediately clear.
BBC, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and others have also been restricted by Russia in recent months, along with Facebook and Instagram.
Moscow’s block of the BBC in early March led the news organization to release a list of circumvention tools to the public in March – advice provided in English, Russian and Ukrainian.
Russia has in recent months characterized coverage of the deadly invasion of Ukraine as “false information,” and President Vladimir Putin introduced a law that criminalized news reports that referred to the war, prompting many Western news outlets to adjust their operations in the country. Many said they would slow activity in Russia, and some journalists fled the country. Those found guilty of writing what the Kremlin considers to be fake news could face a possible 15-year prison sentence.
Press freedom groups condemned the moves. “The Russian public cannot be deprived of information and news and be forced to rely on the Kremlin-approved interpretation of events at this very important time in Russian history,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said in March of Putin’s new law. “The censorship must stop, and bans must be lifted.”
Russian troops have not managed to advance in Luhansk over the past 24 hours, regional governor Serhiy Haidai said in an interview published to his Telegram channel on Sunday, adding that a “very small” piece of the devastated area was holding out against Russian forces.
Haidai said that Ukrainian defenders in the region were making a “powerful” impact on the Russian army and that, so far, further efforts to advance had been unsuccessful. On Sunday, Britain’s Defense Ministry said it was likely that Russian troops have made “further small territorial advances” around Popasna, a town on the western side of the eastern Luhansk region.
The Luhansk region is almost entirely under Russian control. When asked about the village of Bilohorivka, a holdout in the region, Haidai said it was difficult to tell how many civilians remain.
“We told everyone to take shelter as the amount of shelling was sufficiently strong and fighting is constantly underway there,” he said. “It is not at all possible to go there and transport people out.”
Haidai warned Friday that the city of Severodonetsk could soon face a “humanitarian disaster” after the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops late last month. Asked Sunday whether any utility services destroyed in the conflict were being restored, the governor said the recovery response would need “hundreds of billions of hryvnia” – the Ukrainian currency – and that rebuilding would take time.
“It can be said that the city faces a kind of communal collapse,” Haidai said, noting that water and heating services had been destroyed in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. “It will simply be a catastrophe” with fall and winter on the horizon, he said.
It is likely that Russian troops have made “further small territorial advances” around Popasna, a town on the western side of the eastern Luhansk region, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Sunday in its latest intelligence update.
As Russia attempts to make gains and push through the Donetsk region, the E40 highway that links it with Kharkiv “is likely to be an important objective,” it said.
Russian forces continue to strike a broad range of targets, including Izyum, Lysychansk and the Donbas region, which shares a border with Russia and has served as a flash point during the war in Ukraine, the ministry said.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.