President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces have ‘completely destroyed’ Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region and accused Moscow of trying to ‘increase pressure’ with ‘brutal’ and ‘senseless’ bombardments.
In his latest video address on Thursday night, the Ukrainian leader said the Kremlin had intensified its offensive following the withdrawal of its troops from Kharkiv, east of Kyiv – putting even more pressure on Donbas.
Zelensky also repeated that Russia was carrying out genocide and said those who ‘give and carry out criminal orders’ would be brought to justice ‘within the international tribunal’.
Speaking in a video posted to his social media account, Zelensky said: ‘In Donbas, the occupiers are trying to increase pressure. There’s hell and that’s not an exaggeration.
‘Donbas is completely destroyed. All this doesn’t and cannot have any military explanation for Russia.’
Pictured: Rescuers work at a site of an apartment building destroyed by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region
Russian troops walk at a destroyed part of the Illich Iron and Steel Works Metallurgical Plant in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic
President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces have ‘completely destroyed’ Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region and accused Moscow of trying to ‘increase pressure’ with ‘brutal’ and ‘senseless’ bombardments
In his latest video address on Thursday night, the Ukrainian leader said the Kremlin had intensified its offensive following the withdrawal of its troops from Kharkiv, east of Kyiv – putting even more pressure on Donbas. Pictured: Serviceman of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) walks at the damaged war memorial complex Savur-Mohyla
Ukrainian soldiers from an intelligence conduct a patrol and monitoring operation on the outskirt of the separatist region of Donbas
He added: ‘This is a deliberate and criminal attempt to kill as many Ukrainians as possible, and destroy as many houses, social facilities and enterprises as possible.
‘This is what will be qualified as the genocide of the Ukrainian people and for which occupiers will definitely be brought to justice.
‘The first trial in Ukraine against a Russian war criminal has already begun and it will end with the full restoration of justice within the international tribunal. I’m sure of it. We will find and bring to justice all those who give and carry out criminal orders.’
Zelensky went on to talk about the ‘constant’ strikes across the country – referencing the ‘terrible’ air and missile strikes in Desna, Chernihiv Oblast.
He added: ‘The brutal and absolutely pointless bombing of Severodonetsk – 12 dead and dozens wounded in just one day.
‘The bombing and shelling of other cities, the air and missile strikes of the Russian army – all this is not just hostilities during the war.
‘Russian strikes at the Chernihiv region, in particular the terrible strike at Desna, debris clearance continues, many dead; constant strikes at the Odesa region at the cities of central Ukraine.’
The late night address comes as Ukraine said this week its armed forces had destroyed Russian tanks deep behind enemy lines in the Donbas region using British-made Brimstone missiles for the first time.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, the surrendered heroes of Mariupol have been taken to a Russian ‘concentration camp’ as fears grow for their safety, while Putin has continued to suffer blows with the loss of a further colonel, while a soldier has become the first to plead guilty to war crimes.
Meanwhile, one of Putin’s top propagandists declared Russia’s offensive in the Donbas region has failed as incredible pictures show the inside of the steel plant at Azovstal which has been under siege for much of the war.
A mostly-collapsed apartment building is seen in Mariupol – a city that has been near-totally destroyed in more than two months of fighting between Ukraine and Russia
A view of part of the city of Mariupol shows that almost every building bears the marks of heavy shelling and fires, after Russia’s bombardment near-totally destroyed it
Digging equipment brought in by Russia attempts a clean-up of badly damaged apartment buildings in Mariupol, as those who fled say almost nothing of the city remains
Russian intelligence officer and commander Igor Girkin took to his Telegram channel to summarise the situation for Russian forces in Ukraine and said their intention was ‘so obvious’ that Ukraine Armed Forces have been able to resist.
Girkin, who has spoken frankly about the difficulties facing Putin’s forces in recent weeks as their invasion of Ukraine drags on, shared a detailed summary of their progress, or lack thereof, on his Telegram channel, adding that the failure to make headway was not a surprise.
He wrote: ‘With regret I must say that the widely advertised […] operation to defeat the Donetsk group of the enemy has FAILED.
‘In more than two weeks of fierce hostilities (which have cost both sides huge losses) only tactical successes have been reached. Not a single large locality has been liberated.’
Girkin said that perhaps some ‘local tactical successes’ could be achieved before a counter-offensive by Ukraine forces but said it was unlikely the Donbas region would be ‘fully liberated’, adding: ‘It’s likely the UAF will not even be pushed away from the outskirts of Donetsk. And I cannot say that this result is unexpected for me. Quite the opposite.’
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin finally deployed his ‘Terminator’ military vehicles in battle as Kyiv continues to obliterate invading Russian tanks with the help of British missiles.
Recent footage shows the much-vaunted armoured vehicles, which are designed to support infantry units fighting in urban areas, in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.
The deployment of the BMPT Terminator comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has taken a heavy toll on Putin’s main army tanks – the T-90M tank – after Ukrainian troops continue to obliterate them with rockets.
Video shows the much-vaunted armoured vehicles, which are designed to support infantry units fighting in urban areas, in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine
Russian Tank Support Combat Vehicle BMPT ‘Terminator’ before Red Square Victory Day’s parade
In an effort to bolster Russia’s arsenal, a platoon of Terminator military vehicles were deployed and used for the first time in battle in the Donbas.
The BMPTs – or tank support combat vehicles as they are designated – were seen near Severodonetsk in Luhansk region.
‘They are involved in the fire destruction of Ukrainian positions, armoured vehicles, and crews of anti-tank missile systems,’ a defence source told state news agency RIA Novosti.
It is equipped with grenade launchers, anti-tank systems and small arms, and was nicknamed Terminator by its manufacturers Uralvagonzavod.
The Terminator saw action in Syria and was initially moved to the Ukrainian border in February.
It is unclear why Putin’s generals have delayed its deployment until now.
One theory is that his beleaguered commanders do not trust it to be as all-conquering as its name suggests.
Footage released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence shows the moment a Russian T-90M tank – a £4million latest-generation war machine – was blown up near Kharkiv
Russian war reporter Alexander Sladkov posted: ‘Thank God we are starting to use Terminators.
‘There might be issues and mistakes, but practice is everything.’
A video shows the Terminator during trials, and it has been showcased at Victory Day parades in Red Square
Meanwhile the T-90 is Russia’s most-advanced tank, with the base model entering service in 1992 though production only ramped up in the late 2000s.
The £4million T-90M is the latest version of the tank, and entered service in 2016.
Russia is thought to field around 1,000 of all T-90 variants, compared to around 5,000 T-72s – the tank the T-90 is based on and which has done the bulk of the fighting in Ukraine.
The T-90 is supposed to be one of the best tanks in the world, and has upgraded armour and missile protection systems compared to the T-72 which make it harder to destroy – at least in theory.