Moscow/Lviv, Aug 1 (EFE).- Fighting was intensifying in the Donbas, which on Monday led Kyiv to order the evacuation of the civilian population from areas of the Donetsk region controlled by the Ukrainian army.
More than 50,000 children and about 200,000 adults are to be evacuated from the region ahead of winter, according to the Ukrainian authorities. An evacuation taskforce has been set up to manage their departure, Deputy prime minister Iryna Vereschuk said.
“Those who have decided to evacuate should call the administration (…), people will come to pick them up and transport them to the place of evacuation,” Vereschuk said.
The senior official assured that she also understands that there are people who do not want to leave their homes.
“That (the decision) is their personal responsibility, but I repeat, there will be no gas, heating and electricity,” she warned.
For pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, Kyiv’s evacuation announcement has been dismissed as a publicity stunt.
“It is yet another publicity move to promote themselves and show that they care about people,” said Daniil Bezsonov, a representative of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
The leader of the Donetsk separatists, Denis Pushilin, in turn told Russian television that with the evacuation Kyiv wants to “delegitimize” the referendum that the separatist authorities plan to hold after the “liberation” of the entire territory of the region.
Simultaneously, Russia continued attacks in the vicinity of Bakhmut in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, where it made small gains, according to the latest British intelligence report.
Heavy fighting near Bakhmut, a key stronghold for control over the part of the Donetsk region that remains in Ukrainian hands, was also confirmed by the Ukrainian General Staff, which reported on Russian troops regrouping in the south in its daily report.
London agreed that Russia is possibly redeploying significant numbers of troops from the north to the south, pointing out that Moscow has probably identified its Zaporizhia front as a vulnerable area in need of reinforcement.
Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Lugansk region, which is controlled almost entirely by pro-Russian troops, said that the Russians have been trying to advance toward Bakhmut for almost a month, but Ukrainian forces are holding firm.
At the same time, the Russians made marginal advances in the Avdiivka area and continued attacks on Pisky, according to the US Institute for War Studies.
According to pro-Russian militias, their forces are now trying to encircle Avdiivka, a suburb of Donetsk city, where they have advanced about 1.5 kilometers in a few days. The separatists also accused Kyiv of the “forced evacuation” of Bakhmut.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government announced that it has received the first half of a €1 billion aid package provided by the European Union (EU), as well as Mars II rocket launchers supplied by Germany.
“We expect the arrival of the second tranche tomorrow,” Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal said via his Telegram account, pointing out that the aid is part of a larger package worth 9 billion euros to support Ukraine.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksei Reznikov announced that the first self-propelled multiple rocket launchers MARS II, from the manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, have already been delivered to Ukraine.
He also reported the receipt of four new HIMARS rocket launching systems, sent by the US, a weapon that is changing the balance of power in the conflict, according to Kyiv.
The secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danylov, for his part criticized European politicians who do not believe Kyiv will secure a victory on the battlefield.
“They are making a mistake. We can and we are going to do it. First comes the destruction of the enemy, and then – diplomacy,” Danylov said.EFE