A firefighter works in a residential area damaged by a Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has announced that the government has decided on the mandatory evacuation of people in the eastern Donetsk region, which site of intense fighting with Russian invading forces.
In a late-night televised address on July 30, Zelenskiy also said that the hundreds of thousands of people still in combat zones in the larger Donbas region needed to leave.
“The more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian Army will have time to kill,” he said, adding that residents would be given compensation.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk was quoted by Ukrainian media as saying the evacuation needed to take place before winter begins since the region’s natural gas supplies had been destroyed.
Zelenskiy said hundreds of thousands of people were still living in areas of Donbas where fighting was fierce.
“Many refuse to leave, but it still needs to be done,” he said. “If you have the opportunity, please talk to those who still remain in the combat zones in the Donbas. Please convince them that it is necessary to leave.”
Earlier, the Ukrainian military said on July 30 that it had killed more than 100 Russian soldiers and destroyed two ammunition dumps in fresh fighting in the Kherson region, where Kyiv is concentrating its biggest counteroffensive since the start of the war.
The military’s southern command said that rail traffic to Kherson over the Dnieper River had been cut, potentially further isolating Russian forces west of the river from supplies in Russian-annexed Crimea and the east.
Ukraine has used Western-supplied long-range missile systems to badly damage three bridges across the river in recent weeks, making it more difficult for Russia to supply its forces.
“As a result of fire establishing control over the main transport links in occupied territory, it has been established that traffic over the rail bridge crossing the Dnieper is not possible,” Ukraine’s southern command said in a statement.
It said some 170 Russian soldiers had been killed and seven tanks destroyed in fighting on July 29 in the southern region.
The claims cannot be independently verified.
The Berislav district was particularly hard hit, according to Dmytro Butriy, the pro-Ukrainian governor of the Kherson region. Berislav is across the river, northwest of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant.
“In some villages, not a single home has been left intact, all infrastructure has been destroyed, people are living in cellars,” Butriy wrote on Telegram.
Officials warned residents to stay away from Russian ammunition dumps.
“The Ukrainian Army is pouring it on against the Russians and this is only the beginning,” Yuriy Sobolevskiy, the first deputy head of the Kherson regional council wrote on the Telegram app.
The Kherson region, which borders Crimea, fell to the Russians soon after the February 24 invasion.
Russian forces continued rocket attacks on towns and cities across Ukraine’s sprawling front line overnight, killing at least one person and hitting civilian targets, Ukrainian officials said on July 30.
The mayor of the southern port city of Mykolayiv said that at least one person was killed and six others were wounded in shelling that hit a residential area. The strikes left “windows and doors broken, and balconies destroyed,” Oleksandr Sienkevych wrote on Telegram.
A school building was hit in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said. Russian rockets also hit a bus station in the city of Slovyansk, according to Mayor Vadym Lyakh. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said on July 30 that Russia had likely established two pontoon bridges and a ferry system to compensate for bridges damaged in recent Ukrainian strikes.
In its regular bulletin the ministry said “it is likely” that Ukraine has also “successfully repelled small- scale Russian assaults from the long-established front line near Donetsk city in the Donbas.”
The previous day, the ministry tweeted that the Kremlin was “growing desperate” as Russia “has lost tens of thousands of soldiers” in the unjust war it “won’t win.”
On July 30, Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence agency, Richard Moore, retweeted the Defense Ministry’s comment, saying Russia is “running out of steam.”