After 136 days of war in Ukraine, Russian forces are continuing their massive shelling of Donbass, a mining region in the east of the country where the fighting is concentrated and which they want to conquer in its entirety. “The whole front line is under constant bombardment,” said regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko on Friday evening. “They keep shelling in the direction of Donetsk… Bakhmout is shelled, Sloviansk is shelled day and night, Kramatorsk…”, he added on Telegram. Earlier in the day, he had reported a toll of six dead and 21 wounded in 24 hours in the bombardments of the region.
According to him, the Russian army is “regrouping, or rather reconstituting its groups and preparing new actions in Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, Bakhmout”. In the Kharkiv region (north-east), the country’s second largest city, Russian bombing killed four civilians and injured nine in 24 hours, Governor Oleg Sinegoubov said.
Iryna Vereshchuk, the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, on Friday called on the inhabitants of the areas occupied by the Russian army in the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia to leave as soon as possible. “There will be huge battles,” she said, adding that the Ukrainian army was seeking to liberate these regions.
According to a senior Pentagon official, the new US military aid amounting to $400 million will improve Ukraine’s capabilities to target arms depots and the Russian military’s supply chain. The shipment includes four Himars multiple rocket launcher systems and a thousand 155mm shells for artillery pieces provided by kyiv’s Western allies. These shells are “more effective” because they are more precise and have a greater range of action than those provided so far, said the Pentagon official.
Thanks to the first eight Himars delivered last month, military experts estimate that the Ukrainian army was able to destroy more than a dozen Russian ammunition depots installed behind the front line in the east of the country. Washington has already provided $6.9 billion in military assistance to kyiv since the Russian invasion began on February 24.
By pounding the Donetsk region, where evacuations of civilians continue, Moscow is seeking to seize the entire Donbass basin, its strategic objective since it withdrew from the vicinity of kyiv at the end of March.
According to the regional governor, the Russian army has also started burning the crops: “There are massive fires in the fields, which are intentionally caused by the enemy. They are trying to destroy the crops by all means. They bomb agricultural machinery, harvesters…”, he accused. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, considered one of the world’s breadbaskets, has sent food prices skyrocketing and contributed to soaring global inflation.
On Friday in Indonesia, participants in a G20 ministerial meeting “expressed their deep concern about the humanitarian consequences of the war”, said the head of Indonesian diplomacy, Retno Marsudi. The effects of the conflict “are felt around the world, on food, energy and budgets. And as always, poor and developing countries are the most affected”, she stressed.
While the G20 did not unanimously condemn the Russian invasion, Westerners nevertheless felt they had succeeded in broadening the front against Russia and clearly attributing to it the responsibility for the war and the global energy and food crises it caused. .
Faced with the flood of Western condemnations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov left the meeting at midday, which was also attended by his American counterpart Antony Blinken. It was the first time since the start of the war in February that the two men had been together, but the US secretary of state refused to meet his Russian counterpart separately. The latter replied that Moscow would not run after Washington for talks.