Ukraine Live Updates: Zelensky Calls for Mass Evacuation; Red Cross guarded from the site of the prison explosion

Credit…Laura Boushnak for The New York Times

Hundreds of thousands of civilians living in eastern Ukraine were ordered to evacuate their homes over the weekend after months of relentless Russian bombardment destroyed infrastructure needed to provide heat and cooling. ‘electricity.

While the Ukrainians have stabilized their defensive lines in eastern Ukraine and the Russians have failed to make any significant advances for weeks, Russian shelling of towns and villages continues to kill civilians daily .

President Volodymyr Zelensky, addressing the nation in his overnight addressurged the hundreds of thousands of people – including tens of thousands of children – living in Donetsk province to move quickly.

“The sooner it is done, the more people leave the Donetsk region now, the less the Russian army will have time to kill,” he said.

This is the first time that the Ukrainian government has issued such a broad directive. By doing so before winter, he sought both to give people time to move around and to avoid an unmanageable crisis later.

Protecting civilians also ties up precious resources, taxing beleaguered emergency teams. Mr. Zelensky said the government would help people logistically and financially.

Ukraine’s president’s emotions seemed raw as he condemned the killing of Ukrainian prisoners of war in an explosion in a detention center in the occupied Russian part of Donetsk province as an act of mass murder.

“Everyone is guilty – who approved, who organized, who castigated these people, who knew about it – they will all be found,” he said, calling on the US State Department to declare Russia sponsor of terrorism. Both the House and the Senate have expressed support for such a move, but Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken resisted adding Russia to a list that now includes North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Iran.

The Kremlin said Ukraine killed its own soldiers held in the Russian prison camp using American-made precision missiles. The Pentagon said Friday there was no evidence to support the claim, and a growing number of Ukraine allies pointed the finger at Russia.

Satellite images released by Maxar Technologies on Saturday showed the site of the strike and the charred remains of the barracks where the soldiers died. Ukrainian officials said the footage did not match a missile strike. The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based research body, said its analysts could not confirm the cause but “it remains more likely that Russian forces are responsible.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross said sunday that Russia had not granted him access to the site, adding that this was an obligation under the Geneva Conventions.

The site is a few miles from the front line in Donetsk, where fighting intensified after a brief hiatus in July after the Russians took control of almost all of neighboring Lugansk province.

The Russians control about 60% of Donetsk province, and Ukrainian officials have warned that Moscow will step up its efforts to take the rest of the province as it pushes ahead with plans to annexed part of Ukraine.

The Ukrainians reported on Sunday morning that they had thwarted several Russian thrusts towards the eastern town of Bakhmut overnight and inflicted heavy casualties. Russian rockets and bombs hit 23 towns and villages in Donetsk overnight, hitting 42 residential buildings, four fields of wheat and agricultural machinery, a market, a canteen, a production workshop, a transformer, garages and power lines, according to the national police.

At the same time, Russia is trying to reinforce its defensive positions in the southern Kherson region as the Ukrainians continue to target Russian supply lines, cutting off Russian forces west of the Dnipro from the rest of the army. ‘occupation.

Late Saturday, the Ukrainians said they hit a railway bridge spanning the Dnipro. Not all Ukrainian military claims could be independently verified, but video and satellite imagery confirmed several assaults on Russian strongholds and transport links.

Russian authorities accused the Ukrainians on Sunday of carrying out a drone attack on the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in the port city of Sevastopol in Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014 and served as a base for the invasion .

The Ukrainian government did not immediately recognize the attack. On Sunday, Russia celebrated Navy Day, meant to show off the might of its fleet.

Russian President Vladimir V. Putin took part in a naval parade in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg on Sunday, saluting Russian ships and submarines from a speedboat.

In an opening speech for the parade, Putin said Russia’s interests stretch far and wide, from the Arctic Circle to the Baltic Sea, and that it will defend them wherever they are threatened.

“We will ensure their protection firmly and with all available means,” he said.