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Russian bombardment prevents evacuations from Lugansk region of Ukraine – Governor

A view shows a hospital building damaged by shelling in Sievierodonetsk
A view shows a hospital building damaged by shelling as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Sievierodonetsk, in the Luhansk region of Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 18, 2022. Luhansk Regional Civil-Military Administration/Handout via REUTERS

March 18, 2022

LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region said frequent and widespread shelling by Russian forces is preventing the safe evacuation of civilians from frontline towns and villages.

Russia has denied attacking civilians since beginning its February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which it describes as a “military special operation” to disarm and “denazify” its southern neighbor, a democratic country of 44 million people.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said 59 civilians had been killed in the region since the war began, which he said had completely destroyed some residential areas.

“There isn’t a community that hasn’t come under fire,” he said on national television, citing the cities of Severodonetsk, Rubizhne and Popasna as particular hotspots.

Efforts to evacuate civilians have been hampered by the fighting, but local authorities are hoping a temporary ceasefire can be arranged for Saturday so trucks can distribute food, medicine and other supplies to those most in need.

Luhansk borders Russia and is in Ukraine’s coal-rich Donbass region, which has been partially controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. Governor Gaidai is the head of the Ukrainian administration of the region.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Bobby Allyn

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