Amid intense fighting, Ukraine orders the evacuation of children | ET REALITY


The Ukrainian government has ordered the evacuation of hundreds of children in devastated villages across southern Ukraine and is sending police door-to-door to convince parents that it is time to escape widespread Russian bombing in the region.

Authorities are also evacuating children in eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces are launching some of their biggest offensives in months. At least 41 children have been moved in recent days and local authorities are pleading with families in at least eight communities to follow their neighbors and move to safety.

The mandatory evacuation orders are not the first of their kind in the 20-month war, but they underscore the ferocity of the fighting at a time when both Ukraine and Russia are launching bloody attacks that invariably engulf small villages near the lines. from the front.

The fact that the front has remained virtually static for almost a year may obscure the scale of the violence unfolding daily along a line that stretches more than 1,000 miles from the Black Sea to the Russian border.

Measuring the intensity of the fighting can be difficult, but Ukrainian evacuation orders have often coincided with the most violent periods. And although most towns and villages along the front are now largely abandoned, thousands of families have refused to leave.

Oleksandr Tolokonnikov, head of the Kherson regional military administration’s press service, said in an interview on Tuesday that violence along the Dnipro River had been escalating for weeks and families were ordered to leave 36 settlements last month. About 450 children left, he said, but more than 1,000 remained.

Therefore, this week the authorities decided to intensify their efforts to convince “marginalized families” that they should move, including around 800 children.

“The police will now approach them to try to persuade them to evacuate,” he said. “They can’t just take the kids out. Then they will have to work with the families. “Under bombing.”

Inna Kholodnyak, director of the Kherson Regional Children’s Hospital, has treated four or five children in recent days.

“Those were mine and explosion wounds, with torn edges,” he said. “And metal pieces inside.”

“I am a doctor and a mother and I do not believe that children should remain in territories under constant bombardment,” she said. “They must be taken to a safe place.”

Ivan Antipenko, a Ukrainian journalist from Kherson who works for Radio Liberty, visited more than a dozen villages on the Ukrainian-controlled side of the river that have been under shelling in recent days. He said it was difficult to describe life there because it was so far from anything most people could relate to.

“It’s just horrible,” he said in a video chat.

While the Russians have been bombing the Dnieper since they were forced to withdraw almost a year ago, they are increasingly using 1,000-pound aircraft-delivered bombs that are capable of bringing down entire buildings. Local officials said that during the summer, the Russians would drop one or two such munitions each day. They can now launch more than two dozen in a single bombardment, officials said.

Ukraine’s intelligence agency, the SBU, said this week that the Russians had been helped by “clandestine” anti-Ukrainian collaborators in Kherson who were “directing rockets and guided aerial bombs from the Russian Federation at residential buildings,” and that the suspects had been arrested. that he would be tried on charges related to treason.

“The three members of the enemy group that corrected the artillery and rocket attacks against the city were detained,” the agency said.

The bombings around Kherson come as Ukrainian forces have stepped up amphibious assaults across the Dnipro, which military analysts have speculated may be part of a more ambitious effort to establish a suitable bridgehead on the eastern bank. That would allow them to attack Russian supply lines more effectively.

The Ukrainian military has said little about the attacks and the status of the fighting remains murky.

Kiev’s goal may simply be to harness Russia’s resources, but Moscow continues to demonstrate its ability to generate enough forces to defend itself in the south while again going on the offensive in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian General Staff said Tuesday morning that Russian forces launched attacks along the entire eastern front on Monday, with some of the most brutal battles in months being fought around the town of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region. .

Russian forces are heavily shelling a vital road to the besieged city, said Vitaliy Barabash, head of the Avdiivka military administration.

“This complicates both the evacuation of civilians and the importation of humanitarian aid,” he said. While most of the city’s 30,000 civilian residents have long since fled, around 1,700 people remain.

The Russians have the city surrounded on three sides but have not been able to defeat the Ukrainian forces and capture it. Despite suffering heavy losses since the Kremlin ordered its forces to go on the offensive earlier this month, the Russians appear determined to continue mounting attacks.

Anna Lukinova contributed reporting from Kyiv.

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