POKROVSK (Ukraine) -- A Ukrainian regional official warned Friday about the deteriorating living conditions of Sievierodonetsk, a city that was captured by Russian forces two week ago. He said the city is without water, power, or a functioning sewage system, while the bodies of the deceased decompose inside hot apartment buildings.
Gov. Serhiy Haidai stated that the Russians were using indiscriminate artillery to try and secure their gains in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region. Moscow claimed this week full control over Luhansk but the governor and other Ukrainian officials stated that their troops still held a small portion of the province.
Haidai stated to The Associated Press that Luhansk was not fully captured despite the Russians having engaged all of their arsenal in order to accomplish this goal. "Fierce fighting is taking place in many villages along the border of the region. To advance, the Russians rely on artillery and tanks to leave scorched earth.
He said that Russia's forces "strike any building they believe could be a fortified location." They are not stopped by civilians being left there. They die in their homes or courtyards. They continue firing.
Occupied Sievierodonetsk is, however, "on the verge of an humanitarian catastrophe," the governor posted on social media. "The Russians have destroyed all of the critical infrastructure and are unable to fix anything.
Haidai last week reported that approximately 8,000 people remained in the city. The city had a population of 100,000 before the war. According to some Ukrainian soldiers and officials, Russian forces destroyed Sievierodonetsk (the administrative center of Luhansk province), before the troops from Ukraine were forced out late last month. This was in order to avoid being encircled and captured.
Luhansk, one of the two Donbas provinces, is Ukraine's industrial area of mines or factories. Pro-Moscow separatists fought Ukraine's army for eight years in the Donbas and declared independent republics, which Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized prior to sending troops into Ukraine.
Putin claimed that Russian forces would be able to rest and recover after claiming full control over Luhansk. However, other areas of eastern Ukraine continue to be bombarded by Russia. The Russian leader in Kyiv warned the Ukrainian government to accept Moscow's terms quickly or prepare for the worst.
"Everybody should be aware that, largely speaking," Putin stated to leaders of the Kremlin-controlled Parliament Thursday.
According to Ukraine's presidential office, at least 12 civilians died and 30 were injured by Russian shelling in the past 24 hours. Six people were killed and 21 others were wounded in the barrage that hit Donetsk, the other Donbas province.
Another four people were killed in northeast Ukraine and nine were injured in Kharkiv. This is the country's second largest city. Residents were also affected by Russian shelling.
Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, said that Putin was responding to statements made by the Ukrainian government and its Western allies regarding defeating Russia on battlegrounds.
Peskov stated to reporters that Russia's potential was so great that only a small portion of it has been used for the special military operation. "And so, Western statements are completely absurd and only add to the pain of the Ukrainian people."
Now in its fifth month of operation, Russia's war against Ukraine has driven millions from their homes and killed thousands. It has also shattered European security, which was hard-fought for after World War II. The war has caused a ripple effect in the global economy, causing higher fuel and food prices. Russia has also been sanctioned for its invasion of Ukraine, which has made it impossible to export millions of tonnes of grain and other foods.
Iryna Vediktova, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, stated to the AP that 22,000 cases have been filed so far in relation to alleged Russian war crimes. This includes rape, torture, and murder. Each day, an additional 200 to 300 cases are added.
Venediktova stated that "we must gather the evidence fast," suggesting that the numbers could even be higher, mainly because there is not enough access to certain parts of the country. "It is obvious that the prosecutors can't work in the Donetsk area, and the military won't allow it."
The German parliament approved the requests of Sweden and Finland to join NATO with overwhelming support. Christine Lambrecht, the German Defense Minister, stated that the accession of the two countries would significantly strengthen NATO's eastern and northern flanks. She cited their strong naval forces in Baltic Sea and their well-respected land forces who know Russia's border region. She said that Putin's attempts to destroy NATO and divide it had failed. She said, "He bet against our weakness." "Now he gets to the opposite." Before the Western military alliance can accept Finland and Sweden, all 30 member countries must agree.
Moscow court sentenced a Russian council member to seven years imprisonment for publicly criticizing the war in Ukraine. He was accused of providing "knowingly false information" regarding the Russian military. Alexei Gorinov (60) criticized Russia's military actions against Ukraine during a March meeting. According to a legal aid group, he was the first to be sentenced to prison under a law making it illegal to discredit the Russian military. The law, which has a maximum sentence of 15 years, was approved by Russia's parliament, just one week after the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine.
According to the British Defense Ministry, Ukrainian forces made advances in the vicinity of Kherson, a Russian-occupied city. The Institute for the Study of War, based in Washington, reported that Ukrainian partisans destroyed a railroad bridge 25 km (15 miles) north of Melitopol. This was done to disrupt Russian resupply operations.
The leaders of Greece, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan inaugurated Friday a pipeline to supply natural gas from Azerbaijan, which was cut off in April. Uniper, a German energy supplier giant, said that it is seeking a bailout from the government in light of a growing natural gas shortage caused by the conflict in Ukraine.
Murru reported in Kyiv, Ukraine. This report was contributed by Cara Anna, Ukraine and Associated Press journalists around Europe.
Follow AP's coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine