According to pro-Russian separatists, shelling by the Ukrainian army has claimed at least six lives in Donetsk, with six others injured. This is reported by a local driver. The news comes days after the announcement of a partial mobilization in Russia, and according to Russia correspondent Joost Bosman it should be seen as bad news for Putin.
“And not only for Putin, but also for the Donetsk People’s Republic and for Russia of course,” he says, but he does not call it unusual. “It’s not surprising that missiles are landing there. After all, it is war, and in the past eight years there have been more shellings in the capital of the region of the same name.’
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However, Bosman thinks that the reliability of the information is debatable. “The point is that both sides accuse each other of deeds. The shelling in Ukraine is being carried out by Ukrainians themselves, the Russians say. And the Ukrainians firmly deny it, saying that the Russians did it themselves. You see that constantly in the occupied pseudo-republics, where Western journalists can’t come either. So difficult to verify.’
A possible explanation for the shelling – more specifically its timing – may be found in the fact that Russia will be holding referendums in occupied territories starting tomorrow. Ukraine may want to create unrest. “If the Ukrainians did it – which they deny – it could have been the intention to keep people in so they can’t vote.”
According to Bosman, there is a possibility in the republics that have existed for some time – Lugansk and Donetsk – that there is some enthusiasm for joining Russia. ‘Many of the people who voted for independence eight years ago have been left behind there. In recently conquered regions, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson, sentiment will not be as high. Hardly anyone will want to vote there, and certainly not for affiliation with Russia.’