Thursday, 7 July, 2022

Russia has completely destroyed the Donbas region, says Zelensky

Russian forces have “completely destroyed” the Donbas region, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned.

Speaking during his nightly address from Kyiv, Mr Zelensky said Vladimir Putin’s army had turned the region into “hell” as intense fighting raged on.

“[There are] constant strikes on the Odesa region, on the cities of central Ukraine. The Donbas is completely destroyed,” he said.

“All this has not and cannot have any military explanation for Russia. This is a deliberate and criminal attempt to kill as many Ukrainians as possible. Destroy as many houses, social facilities and enterprises as possible.”

Russia has refocused its offensive on the region in the past month following an unsuccessful attempt to capture key cities in central Ukraine, including Kyiv. Mr Putin’s army has also failed so far to gain control of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city in the northeast.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that Russia was likely to reinforce its operations in the Donbas once they had secured the southern city of Mariupol.

As many as 1,700 soldiers are likely to have surrendered at the Azovstal steel factory in the besieged city, the MoD’s report added.

"Staunch Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol since the start of the war means Russian forces in the area must be re-equipped and refurbished before they can be redeployed effectively," the ministry wrote on Twitter.

"Russian commanders, however, are under pressure to demonstrably achieve operational objectives. That means that Russia will probably redistribute their forces swiftly without adequate preparation, which risks further force attrition."