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A war of attrition is underway in Ukraine as Russian forces bomb targets sheltering innocent Ukrainians. Saturday in Luhansk province, the eastern industrial heartland known as the Donbas, a school was destroyed by a Russian bomb. Dozens of Ukrainians are feared dead.
Governor Serbiy Haidai said that a school in the village of Bilohorivka caught fire after the bombing. Emergency crews rescued 30 people and found two bodies.
“Most likely, all 60 people who remain under the rubble are now dead,” Gov. Serhiy Haidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app. Russian shelling also killed two boys, ages 11 and 14, in the nearby town of Pryvillia, he said.
About 90 people were sheltering in the school’s basement as Russia continues its bombing attacks in eastern and southern Ukraine. Putin’s war in Ukraine has turned into a war of attrition out of desperation since the Russians have been unable to topple Kyiv. Russian forces are concentrating their offensive moves in the Donbas region. Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting since 2014 and occupy some territory in the region.
Victory Day celebrations scheduled for Monday in Russia have ramped up Russian attacks and the speed to complete its conquest of Mariupol, a port city. The steel mill there is the only part of the city not under Russian control now. Ukrainians have been bracing for an escalation in attacks as May 9 approaches. There was some good news Saturday as women, children and some older Ukrainian civilians who were sheltering with Ukrainian forces in the steel plant were evacuated. The fighters refuse to surrender, though, and hundreds are believed to be wounded.
After rescuers evacuated the last civilians Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address that the focus would turn to extracting the wounded and medics. Zelenskyy said in his nightly address that work would also continue Sunday on securing humanitarian corridors for residents of Mariupol and surrounding towns to leave.
The Ukrainian government has been reaching out to international organizations to try to secure safe passage for the estimated 2,000 fighters remaining in the plant’s underground tunnels and bunkers. Zelenskyy acknowledged the difficulty, but said: “We are not losing hope, we are not stopping. Every day we are looking for some diplomatic option that might work.”
The brutality shown by the Russian forces against civilian targets is well-documented. There have been calls for Putin to be held accountable for war crimes. Putin doesn’t care about targeting locations sheltering women and children.
Today on Fox News Sunday, Senator Lindsey Graham said that there is no off-ramp for Russia. Ukrainians refuse to surrender in their battle to protect their sovereignty. Zelensky will hold online talks today with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Biden, and other leaders from the G7. It is to show unity among Western nations on VE Day marking the 1945 surrender of Nazi Germany.
I will continue to fault Biden for his slow reaction and lack of a show of unequivocal support for Ukrainians and Zelensky as Putin invaded Ukraine. He randomly said a little invasion into Ukraine by Putin would probably be acceptable, which was bad enough. Then he insisted on slow walking sanctions even while he was declaring that sanctions would deter Putin from escalating his war on Ukraine. Biden allowed European countries to take the lead and looked like a fumbling weak old man. Biden’s lack of action emboldened Putin.
Today more explosions are being heard in Odesa. There are reports of a missile attack on a furniture manufacturing company and damage to a nearby apartment building. There are also reports of an attack on the airport today in Odesa. Russians had already bombed the runway there.
Putin will want to make some grand claim of victory in Ukraine during Victory Day celebrations. He plans to address troops in Red Square. The Ukrainian military is warning Moldova that Russian and separatist troops are on full alert. Putin may want to use Moldova to expand his war.
Ukraine’s resistance has been eye-opening, as has the ineffectiveness of Putin’s ability to meet his own expectations of a quick takeover of Ukraine. The war is eleven weeks old with no immediate end in sight. Russian forces are concentrating now on grabbing total control of the Donbas.
The Russia-backed rebels have established a breakaway region in Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk, which together make up the Donbas. Russia has targeted areas still under Ukrainian control.
“All free settlements in the Luhansk region are hot spots,” Haidai said. “Right now, there are shooting battles in (the villages) of Bilohorivka, Voivodivka and towards Popasna.”
Ukrainian troops have succeeded in targeting Snake Island. Russian troops overtook it to secure control of the sea. Putin wants control of the port to landlock Ukraine and deny Ukraine its use. Ukraine will need to take out those Russian troops to hold on to the area.