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Civilians in Bakhmut ‘pushed to limits of existence’: Red Cross


About 10,000 Ukrainian citizens, many elderly and disabled, are clinging to survival in squalid conditions in Ukraine’s besieged city of Bakhmut and surrounding settlements, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warns.

The eastern city has become the center of the biggest battle of the war between Russia and Ukraine in recent months and a key target in Russia’s winter offensive to completely conquer Ukraine’s industrialized Donbas region. The Russian offensive has so far yielded little gain, despite thousands of troops killed on both sides.

“For the civilians trapped there, they live in very appalling conditions and spend almost all day with intense shelling in the shelters,” ICRC’s Umar Khan said at a press conference on Friday, speaking via video link from Dnipro, a city 260 km (160 mi) west of Bakhmut.

“All you see is people being pushed to the limits of their existence and survival and resilience,” he said.

Russian forces attacked the northern and southern parts of the front in the Donbas region on Friday and continued their offensive despite claims from Kiev that Moscow’s attack flagged near Bakhmut.

Ukrainian military reports described heavy fighting in the northern sector along a stretch of front stretching from Lyman to Kupiansk, as well as in the south at Avdiivka on the outskirts of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk.

At a Ukrainian artillery position in lush pine forests behind the northern part of the front, troops fired 155mm rounds from a French TRF-1 howitzer at a highway used as a supply road for the Russian-held stronghold of Kreminna.

“Fortunately we keep the same position because we are facing a very strong enemy with very good weapons, and it is a professional army – airborne troops,” a soldier who used the call sign “Greenwich” told Reuters news agency.

‘Filling won’t stop’

Despite heavy fighting, the front lines in Ukraine have hardly changed since November. Ukraine recaptured large swaths of territory in the second half of 2022, but has largely remained on the defensive since then, while Russia has launched attacks involving hundreds of thousands of newly drafted reservists and convicts recruited from prison as mercenaries.

As winter turns to spring, the main question in Ukraine is how long Russia can sustain its major offensive and when and if Ukraine can reverse the momentum with a planned counterattack.

The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces said on Thursday that Russia’s attack on Bakhmut appears to be losing momentum and that Kiev could go on the offensive “very soon”.

For now, Ukrainian forces are still focused on preventing the Russians from advancing along more than 300 km (185 mi) of the Donbas front from Kupiansk in the north to Vuhledar in the south.

“All day yesterday the enemy tried to attack in the direction of Avdiivka,” said Oleksiy Dmytrashkyvskyi, spokesman for the Ukrainian army command Tavria, which is responsible for southern operations.

“The shelling of Avdiivka does not stop – artillery, rockets, mortars,” he said. “It’s sad to see people surviving there who don’t want to leave. They are mainly elderly people.”

Serhiy Cherevatyi – spokesman for the Operational Command East, responsible for the frontline further north – said Russia has recently focused mainly on the stretch from Kupiansk to Lyman, the area recaptured by Ukrainian forces last year.

Both he and Dmytrashkyvskyi said the Russians were reinforcing their units after heavy casualties.

There was no similar update on fighting in the area from the Russian side, which has long claimed to inflict heavy casualties on the Ukrainians.


In Bakhmut itself, Ukrainian troops who appeared to be abandoning the city weeks ago have dug in instead, a strategy some Western military experts say is risky due to the need to retain troops for a counter-attack.

The United Nations released its most recent report on human rights violations in the war, recording thousands of confirmed deaths of Ukrainian citizens, which it described as the tip of the iceberg, as well as disappearances, torture and rapes, mainly of Ukrainians in Russian-occupied territories . areas.

Over the course of the 13-month war, the UN had documented about 40 summary executions of prisoners of war (POWs), according to the report.

“We are deeply concerned about the summary execution of up to 25 Russian prisoners of war and persons ordered to fight by the Ukrainian armed forces, which we have documented,” said Matilda Bogner, the head of the UN Human Rights Office’s mission in Ukraine. a press conference in Kyiv.

Bogner explained abuses allegedly committed by both sides, but noted that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was at the root of the violence against civilians and prisoners of war. She said Ukrainian prosecutors were investigating some cases, but none had yet come to court.

“With regard to the treatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war, we are also deeply concerned about the summary execution of 15 Ukrainian prisoners of war shortly after their capture by Russian forces,” said Bogner.

“The military and security contractors of the Wagner Group committed 11 of these executions,” she said.

Russia denies committing atrocities in what it calls a “special military operation”.

In Kostiantynivka, west of Bakhmut, a Russian missile hit a refuge providing warm shelter for civilians, killing at least three women, local officials said. Photos released by emergency services show a destroyed building. There was no immediate Russian response to the reports.

In the northern region of Sumy, an administrative building, a school building and residential buildings were among the damage from Russian shelling that killed two civilians, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said.

Russia said its troops destroyed a hangar containing Ukrainian drones in the Odessa region in the south.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, saying Ukraine’s ties to the West posed a security threat. Since then, tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers have been killed on both sides. Kiev and the West are calling the war an unprovoked attack to subdue an independent country.

Dmitry Medvedev, a hardline Kremlin official, said Moscow demanded a demilitarized zone around Ukrainian territory it claims to have annexed. Otherwise, he said, it would fight deep into Ukraine.

“Nothing can be ruled out here,” he said. “If you have to go to Kiev, then you have to go to Kiev. If you have to go to Lviv, you have to go to Lviv to destroy this infection.”


Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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