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Russia Pounds Donetsk Provinc 07/06 06:26

   Russian shelling killed at least seven people in Ukraine over the past 24 
hours and wounded 25 more, Ukrainian officials said Wednesday.

   KRAMATORSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Russian shelling killed at least seven people in 
Ukraine over the past 24 hours and wounded 25 more, Ukrainian officials said 
Wednesday.

   The country's presidential office said Russian forces targeted cities and 
villages in southeast Ukraine, with most civilian casualties occurring in 
Donetsk province, where Russia stepped up its offensive in recent days.

   Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a Telegram post that two people died in the 
city of Avdiivka, which is located in the center of the province, and the 
Donetsk cities of Sloviansk, Krasnohorivka and Kurakhove each reported one 
civilian killed.

   "Every crime will be punished," he wrote.

   Kyrylenko urged the province's more than 350,000 remaining residents to flee 
late Tuesday, saying that evacuating Donetsk was necessary to save lives and 
allow the Ukrainian army to put up a better defense against the Russian advance.

   Donetsk is part of the Donbas, a mostly Russian-speaking industrial area 
where Ukraine's most experienced soldiers are concentrated. Russian President 
Vladimir Putin on Monday declared the complete seizure of the region's other 
province, Luhansk, after Ukrainian troops withdrew from the last city under 
their country.

   Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai denied Wednesday that the Russians had completely 
captured the province. Heavy fighting continued in villages around Lysychansk, 
the city Ukrainians soldiers withdrew from and which Russian troops took on 
Sunday, he said.

   "The Russians have paid a high price, but the Luhansk region is not fully 
captured by the Russian army," Haidai said. "Some settlements have been overrun 
by each side several times already."

   He accused Russian forces of scorched earth tactics, "burning down and 
destroying everything on their way."

   Up to 15,000 residents remain in Lysychansk and some 8,000 in the nearby 
city of Sievierodonetsk, which Russian and separatist fighters seized last 
month, Haidai said.

   Pro-Russian separatists have fought Ukrainian forces and controlled much of 
the Donbas for eight years. Before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Putin 
recognized the independence of the two self-proclaimed separatist republics in 
the region.

   Since Russian forces failed to make inroads in capturing Kyiv, Ukraine's 
capital, Moscow has concentrated its offensive on seizing the remaining 
Ukrainian-held areas of the Donbas.

   To the north of Donetsk, Russian forces also hit Kharkiv, Ukraine's 
second-largest city, with missile strikes overnight, the Kharkiv regional 
governor said Wednesday on Telegram.

   Three districts of the city were targeted, Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said. Three 
people, including a toddler, sustained injuries, according to the governor.

   A missile struck a building where military registration takes place. A 
government building next door remained intact, and people just steps away 
glanced at the wreckage in passing.

   Closer to the front line and in a more abandoned district of the city, first 
responders crunched through the debris of another overnight attack at the 
national teaching university in Kharkiv. Pages of dusty textbooks flapped in 
the breeze.

   The attacks indicated the city, which is located close to the Russian 
border, is unlikely to get a reprieve as the war grinds on into its fifth month.

   In other developments:

   -- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the 27-nation 
European Union needs to make emergency plans to prepare for a complete cut-off 
of Russian gas in the wake of the Kremlin's war in Ukraine. The EU has already 
imposed sanctions on Russia, including on some energy supplies, and is trying 
to find other sources. But von der Leyen said the bloc needed to be ready for 
shock disruptions coming from Moscow.

 
 
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