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DONETSK Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko called on the 350,000 people remaining in Ukrainian-held parts of the province to flee today as Russia’s assault continued.
Mr Kyrylenko said the civilian population were impeding the Ukrainian army’s defence of the province, where Russian troops continue to advance. The whole of neighbouring Lugansk has now fallen to the Russians.
Donetsk and Lugansk are where separatist “people’s republics” backed by Russia were declared in opposition to the Western-backed coup in Kiev in 2014, but before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February these had controlled only a minority of the territory of the Ukrainian provinces of those names.
Civilians continued to die across the Donbass with Ukraine reporting the deaths of eight from Russian shelling today and separatist authorities saying four had been killed by Ukrainian bombardment.
Kramatorsk — which has served as the de facto capital of Ukrainian Donetsk since the Donbass war began in 2014 — and nearby Sloviansk appear to be Russia’s next targets for conquest, following its victories in Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.
In occupied Kherson, a new regional government was appointed under Sergei Yeliseyev, a Russian and former deputy prime minister of the Kaliningrad exclave. The head of the previous “military-civic” authorities set up when Russia took the city, Vladimir Saldo, said the new government “was not a temporary, not a military, not some kind of interim administration but a proper governing body,” implying Russia intends to annex the area.
In Russia itself the Duma passed two Bills detailing “special economic measures” aimed at maintaining a prolonged war effort.
The Bills oblige private companies to supply services and goods to the military, and impose compulsory overtime on workers in some sectors.
And former president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy head of the country’s Security Council, hit back at US suggestions it would back an international tribunal to try Russians for war crimes allegedly committed in Ukraine.
Mr Medvedev said that “the entire of US history since the subjugation of the native population is a series of bloody wars” and said US personnel had never been held accountable for the atomic bombings of Japan or the carpet bombing of Vietnam.
“What tribunal condemned the sea of blood spilled by the US there?” he asked.
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