Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday that artillery his forces have received from Western allies has “started working powerfully” and his helping to disrupt the efforts of Russia’s military.
“Its accuracy is exactly as needed,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. “Our defenders inflict very noticeable strikes on depots and other spots that are important for the logistics of the occupiers and this significantly reduces the offensive potential of the Russian army.”
He also pledged to regain control of all of Ukraine’s territory, as Russia pushes to capture the Donbas region in the eastern part of the country.
“We are fighting for our entire south, for the entire Ukrainian Donbas — the most brutal confrontation is currently there, near Slovyansk and Bakhmut,” Zelenskyy said. “We are fighting for the Kharkiv region. The occupiers should not think that their time on this land is long-lasting and that the superiority of their artillery is eternal.”
Ukrainian officials earlier Wednesday told the remaining residents in Donetsk province, part of the Donbas, to flee to safer areas as Russia launched new attacks there.
“Russia has turned the entire Donetsk region into a hot spot where it is dangerous to remain for civilians,” Donetsk regional military administrator Pavlo Kyrylenko told Ukrainian media.
“I call on everyone to evacuate,” he said. “Evacuation saves lives.”
Russia already controls more than half of Donetsk province after saying that in recent days it had completely taken over neighboring Luhansk province.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai rejected the claim Wednesday, saying there was still heavy fighting happening around the city of Lysychansk. Ukrainian forces withdrew from the city on Sunday in what Ukrainian officials described as a tactical move to save troops for future fighting.
Haidai accused Russian forces of “burning down and destroying everything on their way.”
Up to 15,000 residents remain in Lysychansk, and about 8,000 in the nearby city of Sievierodonetsk, which Russian and separatist fighters seized last month, Haidai said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said one of the main goals of his invasion of Ukraine, which began in late February, is full control of the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas region.
Some Ukrainians are resisting leaving Donetsk, but Kyrylenko said only about 340,000 people remain out of a prewar population of nearly 1.7 million.
Only about 23,000 people are still in Sloviansk, one of the newest targets of Russian shelling, out of a prewar population of 107,000, Mayor Vadim Lyakh said. Heightened Russian attacks have increased the pace of evacuations.
Ukrainian Railways said it would add additional trains to ease evacuations.(VOA)
•PHOTO: Volodymyr Zelenskyy