Air raid sirens sounded across Kyiv on Saturday as Russia stepped up its long-range bombardment of Ukrainian cities that has killed at least 37 people in the last three days, injuring scores.
At least three civilians were killed and three more were injured in a Russian rocket strike on the northern Ukrainian city of Chuhuiv in the early hours, a regional police chief said.
Serhiy Bolvinov, the deputy head of Kharkiv’s regional police force, said that the rockets were likely fired from Russian territory. Chuhuiv lies some 120 kilometres from the border.
“Four Russian rockets, presumably fired from around [the Russian city of] Belgorod at night, at about 3:30, hit a residential building, a school and administrative buildings,” Bolvinov wrote on Facebook, adding that a two-story apartment block was partly destroyed.
“The bodies of three people were found under the rubble. Three more were injured. The victims are civilians,” Bolvinov added.
Cruise missiles from strategic bombers, mortar and artillery fire
In the neighbouring Sumy region, one civilian was killed and at least seven more were injured after Russians opened mortar and artillery fire on three towns and villages not far from the Russian border, regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said on Telegram on Saturday morning.
Late on Friday, Russian missiles hit the central city of Dnipro, killing three people and wounding 15, regional Governor Valentyn Reznychenko said on Telegram.
Rockets hit an industrial plant and a street next to it, Reznychenko said. Footage on social media showed thick black smoke rising from the buildings and burning cars.
Ukraine’s air force stated the attack was carried out with several Kh-101 cruise missiles fired from Tu-95MS strategic bombers over the Caspian Sea. Four incoming missiles were intercepted, it said.
One of the dead was a bus driver who had just finished work and was returning to the depot when a missile struck, said Ivan Vasyuchkov, a member of the city council.
The emergency service said two vehicles were burned up, and 10 others were damaged. The missile strikes also set the plant on fire and blew out windows in nearby apartment buildings.
Airstrikes also were reported in Kremenchuk, another city along the Dnieper River south of Kyiv.
In the Donbas, seven civilians were killed, and 14 more received injuries in a string of shellings in 10 locations over in the most recent 24 hours in cities in Ukraine’s embattled eastern Donetsk region, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said Saturday morning.
Nearby, however, Ukrainian troops repelled a Russian overnight assault on a strategic eastern highway, said Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region.
Haidai said that Russia had been attempting to capture the main road link between the cities of Lysychansk and Bakhmut “for more than two months”.
“They still cannot control several kilometers of this road,” Haidai wrote in a Telegram post.
Attacks meant to ’cause maximum harm,’ says Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged everyone to heed air raid sirens and seek cover.
“The occupiers are realizing that we are gradually becoming stronger and the purpose of their terror is very simple — to put press on us, to put pressure on our society, to intimidate people, to cause maximum harm to Ukrainian cities, at least while the Russian terrorists are still capable of doing it,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation.
On Thursday, Kalibr cruise missiles launched from a Russian submarine in the Black Sea hit an office building in Vinnytsia, a city of 370,000 people about 200 kilometres southwest of Kyiv.
Kyiv said the strike killed at least 23 people and wounded dozens.
Russia’s defence chief told troops to step up operations across Ukrainian territory, according to social media updates from the defence ministry on Saturday.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu gave “instructions to further intensify the actions of units in all operational areas, in order to exclude the possibility of the Kyiv regime to launch massive rocket and artillery strikes on civilian infrastructure and residents of settlements in Donbas and other regions,” a Facebook post said.
The Kremlin’s military campaign has been focusing on the Donbas in Ukraine’s east, but Russian forces have been pounding other parts of the country in a relentless push to wrest territory from Ukraine and soften the morale of its leaders, civilians and troops as the war nears the five-month mark.