Dhe Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has called on people to leave the Donetsk region in view of the massive attacks by the Russian army in the east of the country. “In the Donbass there are hundreds of thousands of people, tens of thousands of children, many refuse to leave,” said Zelenskyy in his evening video address on Saturday. He urged residents of Donbass to make this decision. “Believe me,” he said in a pleading tone. “The more people leave Donetsk region, the fewer people the Russian army can kill.” Sunday is the 158th day of the war.
Previously, the Ukrainian government had ordered a mandatory evacuation on the grounds that the citizens had to get to safety in good time before the start of the heating season, as the gas pipelines had been destroyed by the war in the Donetsk region. Zelenskyj now emphasized that everything is being organized for people to flee from the areas still controlled by Ukraine.
Ukrainian government promises help to people from Donbass
The President complained that many citizens are still not insightful. “Go ahead, we’ll help,” he said. “We are not Russia – precisely because every life is important to us.” According to the Ukrainian government, there are 52,000 children in the region who urgently need to be brought to safety.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, who heads the evacuation staff, stressed that people who wanted to stay had to sign a statement stating that they were aware of the danger to their lives. She warned that there would be no heating in the winter. “There is absolutely no gas connection in the Donetsk region, all gas pipelines that needed to be repaired have been repaired. But unfortunately, the enemy keeps destroying everything that would help people warm up in winter,” she said on Unity TV.
Zelenskyj urges West to act after killing prisoners
Zelenskyy once again called Russia a “terrorist state” and called on the international community to isolate the country. If Russia were classified as a “terrorist state” by the US, all partners would cut ties with the country.
The President once again strongly condemned the killing of Ukrainian prisoners of war in a pro-Russian separatist-controlled detention center in Olenivka, Donetsk region. According to Russian information, 50 prisoners were killed there on Friday by a rocket attack by the Ukrainian side. Ukraine, in turn, accuses Russia of deliberately killing the soldiers. The information was not independently verifiable.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that representatives of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross were invited to investigate the attack in Olenivka. Ukraine had also requested such an investigation.
“This is a mass murder,” said Zelenskyj in his video message about the killing of the prisoners. The faster Russia is classified as a “terrorist state”, the faster the world will be protected from “evil”. This is the only way to cut off all connections to the country, he emphasized. Political gestures were not enough to condemn the war crime. Action must follow.
US Secretary of State sent condolences to Ukraine
After the attack on the camp, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his condolences to his Ukrainian colleague Dmytro Kuleba. In a phone call on Friday, Blinken reiterated the US determination to hold Russia accountable for atrocities committed by its armed forces against the people of Ukraine. The US State Department announced on Saturday.
Blinken also reported on his conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, underlining “the unwavering support of the United States for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. Blinken and Lavrov spoke to each other on Friday for the first time since the Russian war of aggression began.
According to information from Washington, the US minister stressed that the US would not accept Russian plans to annex further territory from Ukraine. The talks also touched on the export of Ukrainian grain, on which Kyiv and Moscow had signed agreements with Turkey through UN mediation. The implementation was still a long time coming.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov informed Blinken about the progress of the “special military operation” in Ukraine. The Russian chief diplomat stressed that all goals in the country would be achieved. At the same time, he complained that the weapons supplied by the USA and other NATO countries were being used against the peaceful population. This would only prolong the conflict and increase the number of victims.
What will be important on Sunday
Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects a parade of warships, aircraft and thousands of soldiers on Sunday in Saint Petersburg on “Navy Day”. The Kremlin chief is also using the traditional event as a demonstration of power a good five months after the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Parades honoring the naval forces and their various fleets are planned in several regions of Russia.
40 warships, including submarines, are to take part. According to the Kremlin, Russia is also planning a naval parade in the Syrian port of Tartus in the Mediterranean Sea. Russia is in the war in Syria with President Bashar al-Assad.