KYIV: Russia said on Saturday its forces would step up military operations in Ukraine in “all operational areas” as Moscow’s rockets and missiles pounded cities in strikes that Kyiv says have killed dozens in recent days.
Rockets hit the northeastern town of Chuhuiv in Kharkiv region overnight, killing three people including a 70-year-old woman and wounding three others, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said.
“Three people lost their lives, why? What for? Because Putin went mad?” said Raisa Shapoval, 83, a distraught resident sitting in the ruins of her home.
To the south, more than 50 Russian Grad rockets pounded the city of Nikopol, on the Dnipro River, killing two people who were found in the rubble, the region’s governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.
Ukraine says at least 40 people have been killed in such attacks on urban areas in the last three days. Russia says it has been hitting military targets.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered military units to intensify their operations to prevent Ukrainian strikes on eastern Ukraine and other areas held by Russia, where he said Kyiv could hit civilian infrastructure or residents.
Shoigu, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, was shown in military fatigues at a command post on the defence ministry’s Zvezda TV channel being briefed on the war and awarding “Golden Star” medals for heroism to two generals.
His remarks appeared to be a direct response to what Kyiv says is a string of successful strikes carried out on 30 Russian logistics and ammunitions hubs using several multiple launch rocket systems recently supplied by the West.
Ukraine’s defence ministry spokesperson said on Friday that the strikes were causing havoc with Russian supply lines and had significantly reduced Russia’s offensive capability.
War of attrition
While the focus of the war has moved to Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, Russian forces have been striking cities elsewhere in the country with missiles and rockets in what has become an increasingly attritional conflict.
Moscow, which launched what it called its “special military operation” against Ukraine on Feb. 24, says it uses high-precision weapons to degrade Ukraine’s military infrastructure and protect its own security. It has repeatedly denied targeting civilians.
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Kyiv and the West say the conflict is an unprovoked attempt to reconquer a country that broke free of Moscow’s rule with the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991