Severodonetsk/kyiv. Ukrainian forces were fighting on Sunday to defend their last strongholds in the country’s east, where the Russians intensified their shelling, killing 60 civilians in an attack on a school.
Amid intense fighting, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky confirmed the death toll of 60 dead in Saturday’s Russian attack on a school in the eastern town of Bilogorivka, one of the highest death tolls in a single day since The Russian invasion began on February 24, as Russian forces continued to bombard the last holdout of the Ukrainian resistance in the ruins of the southeastern port of Mariupol.
The governor of the Lugansk region, Serhiy Gaidai, specified that the school in Bilohorivka, where some 90 people were sheltering, was attacked.
“In the school there were about 90 people, 27 were rescued. About 60 people probably died,” Gaidai wrote on Telegram.
“There is still very heavy shelling on Bilogorivka,” he added.
“I would really like to believe that there are still people who are alive there,” he said, adding: “As soon as the shelling stops, we can start removing the rubble.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “horrified” by the bombing of the school and stated that “civilians and civilian infrastructure must be preserved in times of war.”
In a later message, Zelensky declared that the attack on the school revealed that “Russia has forgotten everything that was important to the victors of World War II.”
Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Russian forces of targeting civilians in the war, something Moscow denies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will lead Monday’s commemorations of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany, but Ukraine wants to deny Moscow any sense of military might.
On the eve of the commemorations, in Moscow, the Ukrainian soldiers of the Azov battalion, who remain entrenched in the huge Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol (southeast), assured that they do not intend to capitulate since Russia does not care about their lives.
For its part, the General Staff stated that: “The enemy does not cease its offensive operations in the eastern operational zone to establish total control in the territory of the Donetsk, Lugansk and Kherson regions, and maintain the land corridor between these territories and occupied Crimea” since 2014.
According to him, in the Donetsk region, Russian troops continued their operations around Lyman, Popasnyansky, Severodonetsk and Avdiivka. The situation was “tense” near Moldova.
More than 170 civilians were evacuated from the Mariupol area on Sunday, bringing the total to around 600 who were given safe passage during a week-long rescue operation, the United Nations said.