STORY: Smoke rose above buildings and firefighters worked to put out a fire in a residential building. “When the shelling finished, we left work, they let us go home. We were coming to the corner of the building and people started firing upward, a drone was flying there and we were told to get inside the building,” said resident Larisa from inside a shelter. “We came here… The shelling started again and continues intensifying.” Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Russian-backed separatist Donetsk region of Ukraine, posted on the social media platform Telegram on Friday that six locations had been hit by enemy fire. “The enemy is attempting to bring in new equipment to strike residential areas in the Republic. Exhaustive measures are being taken by the counter-battery units of the allied forces to ensure the safety of the population,” his Telegram post added. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said that the main immediate reason for his intervention in Ukraine is to protect the Russian-speakers of the east from persecution and attack. Ukraine says Russia’s claim of persecution is a baseless pretext for an invasion, and that Russia is waging an unprovoked war against a sovereign state fighting for its existence.