SLOVIANSK: The evacuation of civilians from Sloviansk continued on Wednesday as Russian troops pressed towards the eastern Ukrainian city in their campaign to control the Donbas region, as Ireland’s prime minister visited Kyiv.

Sloviansk has been subjected to heavy bombardment in recent days as the invading Russian forces push westwards.

“Twenty years of work; everything is lost. No more income, no more wealth,” Yevgen Oleksandrovych, 66, said as he surveyed the site of his auto parts shop, destroyed in Tuesday’s strikes. Journalists saw rockets slam into Sloviansk’s marketplace and surrounding streets, with firefighters scrambling to put out the resulting blazes.

Around a third of the market in Sloviansk appeared to have been destroyed, with locals coming to see what was left among the charred wreckage. The remaining part of the market was functioning, with a trickle of shoppers coming out to buy fruit and vegetables.

“I will sell it out and that’s it, and we will stay home. We have basements, we will hide there. What we can do? We have nowhere to go, nobody needs us,” said 72-year-old greengrocer Galyna Vasyliivna. Mayor Vadym Lyakh said that around 23,000 people were still in Sloviansk but claimed Russia had been unable to surround the city.

“Since the beginning of hostilities, 17 residents of the community have died, 67 have been injured,” he said.

“Evacuation is ongoing. We take people out every day. About 23,000 residents remain. Many of the evacuees were taken by bus to the city of Dnipro, further west.

“The city is well fortified. Russia does not manage to advance to the city,” he said.

Vitaliy, a plumber, said his wife and their daughter, who is six months pregnant, were evacuated from Sloviansk on Wednesday. “I am afraid for my wife,” he said. “Here, after what happened yesterday, they hit the city centre; need to leave. “I sent my wife, and I have no more choice: tomorrow I will join the army.”

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2022

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