The death toll in the Russian region exceeded 1,000 this year, local officials report
Some 1,091 civilians were killed and more than 3,500 injured in 2022 amid the ongoing hostilities in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), a regional human rights ombudswoman said on Friday. The total civilian death toll of the DPR since the beginning of the conflict in then-east Ukraine back in 2014 has reached 5,441, official figures show.
Over the past year, the Ukrainian military has repeatedly subjected the city of Donetsk to artillery and missile attacks, deliberately targeting residential areas away from any military installations to inflict damage on civilians, the office noted.
“Such a deliberate atrocity against the civilian population is nothing more than an admission of the Ukrainian militants in their own powerlessness on the battlefield, where our defenders beat them again and again,” the DPR’s ombudswoman, Darya Morozova, said in a statement. The sole goal of the Kiev “criminals” and their attacks against the republic’s cities is an attempt to strike fear in the hearts of the local population, Morozova noted, adding that it was impossible to “break the spirit of Donbass.”
A sharp increase in the civilian death toll comes as years-long low-intensity hostilities in the then-Ukrainian east devolved into a major conflict between Moscow and Kiev.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, brokered by Germany and France, and designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the 2014 ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
The admission has also been amplified by former German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, who have separately stated the Minsk agreements were never intended to actually be fulfilled but were merely a ruse to buy time for Ukraine’s military buildup.
Moscow demands that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.
In September, four formerly Ukrainian regions, the DPR and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye, overwhelmingly supported joining Russia during referendums, getting formally incorporated into the country shortly after.