No Respite for Ukrainian Civilians Despite Pause in Russia’s Advance

Source: www.nytimes.com : 2022-07-12 03:38:35 : The New York Times

Credit…Evgeniy Maloletka/Associated Press

Russian strikes killed at least eight people in eastern Ukraine in 24 hours and the death toll from an apartment complex hit by Russian rockets grew as well, local officials said on Monday, a chilling reminder of the devastation Russia has inflicted on civilians, even as its military pauses its drive to seize Ukrainian territory.

While the Russian military regroups and resupplies, its attacks on civilian targets and morale have intensified in recent days. In one town after another in eastern Ukraine, a hail of seemingly random Russian strikes, delivered by warplanes, artillery and missiles, has killed, maimed and terrified residents.

The attacks have ramped up in particular in Donetsk, an eastern province increasingly in Moscow’s cross-hairs after Russian forces seized the last major city in neighboring Luhansk Province this month.

In the town of Chasiv Yar, in eastern Ukraine, emergency crews were still finding bodies on Monday from a single attack over the weekend. A missile strike hit an apartment complex late Saturday, and the death toll rose to 30 people killed, the Ukrainian State Emergency Service said. Nine people had been pulled from the rubble and rescued so far, it said.

In eastern Donetsk province, which includes Chasiv Yar, at least 10 cities and towns were hit, bringing the civilian death toll in the province to nearly 600 since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, according to the region’s military governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko.

Russian forces have used a lull in their ground offensive to help recover, in line with President Vladimir V. Putin’s order last week that some troops rest after the capture of Luhansk Province, military analysts said on Monday. But behind the front lines the rain of devastation continues, and many residents expect that it is a mere overture to a renewed, all-out assault.

Ukrainian and Western analysts expect that Mr. Putin will order a new offensive to conquer the remaining Ukrainian-held territory in Donetsk, anchored by the cities of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Bakhmut — if not more.

And on Monday, Russia signaled it might be seeking to establish permanent control of the Ukrainian territories now occupied by Moscow’s forces: Mr. Putin signed a decree that offered a simplified path to Russian citizenship for all Ukrainians, indicating

About nine miles from Chasiv Yar, in the city of Bakhmut, officials said that on Sunday, Russian troops had fired incendiary munitions, limited by international law and designed to set fires or cause burn injuries, in one neighborhood. Bakhmut, an important military stronghold for Ukraine, is less than 10 miles from Russian lines and a likely target for its planned advance through the eastern Donbas region.

Neighbors in shorts and sandals frantically pulled garden hoses toward a burning house. They hurled buckets of water at the flames as the rafters and tiled roof of a house cracked and popped. “I worked 20 years down the mines and this is what I get,” said a retired miner, Viktor, 67, watching and weeping.

Russia launched attacks in the northeast as well.

In the north, at about 3:40 a.m. on Monday, a Russian missile destroyed a school building in the Slobidske district of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, though no one was hurt, Oleh Sinehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional administration, said on the Telegram messaging app. He said a six-story apartment building in the city was hit 20 minutes later. Emergency workers rescued an 86-year-old woman from the rubble.

“Only civilian structures — a shopping center and houses of peaceful Kharkiv residents — came under the fire of the Russians,” Mr. Sinehubov said.

The recent attacks appeared to differ, military analysts said, from Russia’s earlier tactics in the war, such as its failed blitzkrieg on Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and then its concentrated, weekslong bombardment of major regional cities. The latest attacks hit a variety of targets without a corresponding attempt to advance inch by inch.



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