Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of trying to destroy the Donbas and all who live in the region.
“The constant brutal bombardments, the constant Russian strikes on infrastructure and residential areas show that Russia wants to empty this territory of all people. Therefore, the defence of our land, the defence of our people, is literally a fight for life,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation.
He said the cities and towns of the Donbas will survive only if Ukraine remains standing.
“If the Russian invaders are able to realise their plans even partially, then they have enough artillery and aircraft to turn the entire Donbas into stones. As they did with Mariupol.”
Mr Zelensky said that Mariupol, once one of the most developed cities in the region, was now a “Russian concentration camp among the ruins”.
In Kharkiv, a major city to the north, the situation was “brutal” but Ukrainian troops and intelligence agents “have had important tactical successes,” he said without elaborating.
He said rescuers were still going through the rubble in Kyiv after Thursday’s missile strikes.
He expressed his condolences to the family of Vira Hyrych, who was killed in the bombardment. He said she was the 23rd journalist killed in the war.