SEVERODONETSK, Ukraine – Several intense shelling by Russian-backed separatists on Saturday targeted Ukrainian government-controlled territory around the town of Svitlodarsk, a location that has alarmed security analysts. Security worried for weeks because of proximity to industrial infrastructure, including storage tanks. for toxic gases.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said in a statement, in which it reported that mortars, artillery shells and rocket-propelled grenades had been fired “along the entire front line.” That is about double the level of the previous two days, the statement said.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Saturday night that two soldiers were killed and five wounded.
The most frequently targeted area between midnight and around 2pm on Saturday was in the vicinity of Svitlodarsk, near a chemical plant in separatist-controlled territory, about six miles away. mile. The site appears to be ripe for provocations, Ukrainian military analysts say.
The sprawling factory is one of Europe’s largest fertilizer factories. A stray shell fired back by the Ukrainian Army threatens to hit pressurized tanks and more than 12 miles of pipelines containing toxic ammonia gas. The United States has warned the Russian government could stage an incident with a toxic chemical to justify intervention.
Residents in the village of Luhansk, near Svitoldarsk, said both sides had opened fire in recent days.
“When we were so nervous, we would leave,” said Yana Tinyakova, 31. “But we built this house with our own hands. We don’t want to leave. This is ours. We have nowhere to escape to. Even if we had a place to go, we don’t want to, because this is our home. ”
The area is also considered a potential flashpoint for a nearby network of pipes and water that crosses the front lines and provides drinking water to several million people on both sides of the conflict, including the city’s residents. Donetsk, one of the capitals of two self-declared breakaway states backed by Moscow in eastern Ukraine. Cutting off the water supply amid fighting in 2014 hastened the flow of refugees from the city.
On Saturday, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Eduard Basurin, a spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, as saying that shelling had damaged a pumping station and water pipeline. The water supply is again at risk, he said.
With each side in the conflict trying to control the narrative as much as possible, the reported loss of water for residents in Russia-backed areas has become a setback for Ukraine as it consolidates Russia’s assertion of dire conditions for civilians.
President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday command Ministers in his cabinet and members of Parliament go to frontline villages, the head of Ukraine’s security council said.
The move appears to be intended to signal to Ukrainians that he is rallying his government to defend the country, while officials could also help draw international attention to the suffering of civilians. in frontline towns.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/19/world/europe/intense-shelling-rocks-eastern-ukraine.html Rocky shells heavily shelled in eastern Ukraine.