Civilians trapped in the embattled Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk face being evacuated to areas deeper within Russian-occupied territory, the UK’s Ministry of Defense has said.
In its daily intelligence update, the MoD said options to leave Severodonetsk are limited by the destruction of bridges, but Russia’s proposed route would lead people towards the town of Svatova.
“If trapped civilians do not take up the offer of exiting via a corridor, Russia will likely claim justification in making less of a distinction between them and any Ukrainian military targets in the area,” the ministry said on Twitter.
It added that Russia has precedent – both earlier in the war in Ukraine and in Syria – of using unilaterally-declared ‘humanitarian’ corridors as a way of manipulating the battlespace and imposing the forced transfer of populations.
Russia has also likely renewed its efforts to advance south of Izium, with the goal of advancing deeper into the Donetsk Oblast, and to envelop the Severodonetsk Pocket from the north, in the past 48 hours.
Follow the latest updates below.
Russian forces free Ukrainian medic captured in Mariupol
Russian forces have freed a celebrated Ukrainian medic who used a body camera to record her team’s efforts to save the injured in the besieged city of Mariupol.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Yuliia Paievska, known as Taira, was “already home” after being freed on Friday, three months after she was taken captive on the streets of the city.
The day before she was captured on March 16, she gave footage to Associated Press journalists, who were the last remaining international reporters in the embattled city, and one of them fled with it embedded in a tampon.
“We managed to liberate ‘Taira’, Ukrainian paramedic Yuliia Paievska, from captivity. I am grateful to everyone who worked for this result,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address.
“Taira is already home. We will keep working to liberate everyone.”
Gazprom’s gas exports to Europe via Ukraine drop to 41.4 mcm
Gazprom said its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point was seen down to 41.4m cubic meters on Saturday, from 41.9mcm on Friday.
Reuters reported the Russian gas producer as saying an application to supply gas via another major entry point, Sokhranovka, was rejected by Ukraine.
Lack of medics and arms supplies leaves Ukraine counting its losses
It was a cigarette that saved Serhii’s life. The Ukrainian soldier, who was a welder before he joined the army, was defending his position in a private home on the eastern front in Luhansk last week as Russian forces pounded the area with artillery.
“Nobody was counting the number of explosions per hour; it was constant fire. They were firing from everything, grenade launchers, mortars, artillery, tanks, missiles, ”said the gunner, who had only a few days of training before heading to the front.
In the early evening, Serhii broke out of the stifling bunker where he and his comrades were sheltering from the nerve-shattering thuds of incoming shells to grab some fresh air.
“It was too windy to light up, so I went around the corner of the building, and just as I did so, a 120mm mine from a grenade launcher landed about 1.5 meters away from where I had been standing,” he said.
Ukraine’s hospitals are under pressure as the grinding war of attrition in the east kills up to 200 soldiers a day and leaves 500 more wounded.
Kyiv has pleaded with the West to drastically step-up supplies of weaponry and ammunition, or risk watching Ukraine’s armed forces “bleed out” in the carnage.
Read the full story by Nicola Smith and Illia Novikov here
MoD: Russia likely to advance deeper into the Donetsk region
It is likely that Russian forces have renewed their efforts to advance south of Ukraine’s eastern city of Izium in the past 48 hours, the Ministry of Defense has said.
In their daily intelligence update, posted on Twitter, the MoD said Russia’s goal is to advance deeper into the Donetsk region and envelope Severodonetsk, which has seen intense fighting in recent weeks, from the north.