On Friday, Russia shelled a residential area in Sloviansk, Ukraine, killing eight people, including a child who died on the way to the hospital. The strike occurred as Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill that would make it easier for the army to mobilize citizens and prevent them from fleeing the country if they are drafted. Russia is also pushing further into the hotspot of Bakhmut, which is southeast of Sloviansk, and one of the cities that will be at risk if Kyiv loses the longest and bloodiest battle of the war. Sloviansk is under Ukrainian control.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region, reported on Ukrainian television that 21 people were wounded and eight people died after the strike destroyed an apartment building. AFP journalists observed rescue workers digging for survivors on the top floor of the Soviet-era housing bloc and black smoke billowing from homes on fire across the street. The street below, including a playground, was covered in concrete dust and debris. Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, sent her condolences to the child’s family.
President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced Russia for “brutally shelling” residential buildings and “killing people in broad daylight.” Residents were shocked and scared, with one reporting that the impact of the shelling had broken her windows and sent shards of glass throughout her home. Another resident reported that the strikes had blown out her windows and dislodged her front door from its frame.
More than a year after Moscow launched its offensive in Ukraine, fears are high in Russia that the government is planning a fresh mobilization drive after a bill was rushed through parliament this week to create a digital draft system. Under the legislation, a draftee would be banned from travelling abroad and would have to report to an enlistment office once electronic call-up papers are received. On the ground, Ukrainian sources near Bakhmut told AFP on Friday that Kyiv’s forces were in a “difficult” position. Separately, an intelligence source said any pullout from Bakhmut would be slow and gradual, as there was only a narrow escape path left.