The ground offensive of the Russian troops in eastern Ukraine is accompanied by violent rocket attacks – with probably hundreds of fatalities within one day alone. The developments at a glance.

In the bitter battle for eastern Ukraine, Russian troops say they killed almost 800 enemy soldiers within 24 hours – including 80 volunteer fighters from Poland.

The “mercenaries” were liquidated by a rocket attack on a zinc plant in the city of Kostyantynivka, the Defense Ministry said in Moscow on Saturday. A rocket attack on Mykolaiv in the south killed about 300 soldiers. The government in Kyiv also reported heavy shelling in many areas. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s wife compared the Russian troops to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist militia and accused them of sex crimes.

Russians took several towns in the east

In the past few days, the Russian armed forces had taken several towns in the Sievarodonetsk-Lysychansk conurbation. The first of the two former major cities is now under Russian control. Today only a few thousand people live in Sievjerodonetsk. In addition, troops loyal to Moscow are on the southern outskirts of Lysychansk. After the Ukrainians largely retreated from Sievjerodonetsk, the city became the next target for Russian attacks. Both artillery and the air force fired at Lysychansk, sources said. This information cannot be independently verified.

Troops loyal to the government withdrew in large parts from the heavily contested city of Sievjerodonetsk. They have taken different positions, Mayor Oleksandr Strjuk said on Saturday, according to the Ukrainian news site 24tv. He did not give numbers or details. The troops had left the chemical plant “Azot”. There were still civilians there.

The Ukrainian army had ordered its withdrawal from the city on Friday. This should take a few days. Sievjerodonetsk has so far been one of the last parts of Luhansk that has not yet been conquered by Russian and pro-Russian fighters.

The Ukrainian news agency Unian reported that the Dnipropetrovsk region had also been shelled with artillery. According to Mayor Serhiy Sukhomlin, 24 rockets fell in the vicinity of Zhytomyr alone – a large city west of Kyiv.

Russian attacks also from Belarus

According to the Ukrainian General Staff, Russia fired the rockets at Zhytomyr and Chernihiv from Belarus. The ex-Soviet republic under ruler Alexander Lukashenko actually describes itself as neutral in the war that has been going on for more than four months. In the Lviv region (formerly: Lemberg), the military area in Javoriv was once again the target of the attacks. According to Ukrainian sources, six cruise missiles were shot down by ships in the Black Sea.

According to the Ukrainian air defense system, it was able to shoot down two missiles in the Khmelnytskyi area. The rubble should not have caused any damage. On the other hand, the Mykolaivka region in southern Ukraine reported a heavy attack. A spokeswoman for the administration said the port infrastructure, residential areas and recreational areas were known to have been attacked by civilians. There were also attacks on the Slovjansk-Kramatorsk-Kostjantynivka conurbation.

Selenska: Ukrainian women experience the horror

Selenskyj’s wife Olena Selenska referred in the “Welt am Sonntag” to the Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, who had been enslaved by the IS. “It’s terrible to say that, but many Ukrainian women experience the same thing under the occupation,” she said, adding: “Because the Russian occupiers are no better than IS terrorists.” Murad had survived crimes by the terrorist organization Islamic State against Yazidis in Iraq. She has been a UN Goodwill Ambassador since 2016.

Selenska thanked Germany for granting asylum to numerous Ukrainians. She also appealed to her fellow countrymen who had fled to return when the situation became safe again, to help with reconstruction.

Zelenskyj: Kyiv is happy about EU candidate status

Zelenskyy himself expressed optimism in a video speech that his country would meet the criteria for EU membership. This includes the rule of law, the fight against corruption, guarantees of fundamental rights and a functioning market economy. In Georgia, tens of thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday night in support of EU accession. Unlike Ukraine and Moldova, an EU summit on Thursday did not grant Georgia candidate status.