Russia launched a barrage of missile strikes on Ukraine early on Saturday, stepping up hostilities a day after Ukrainian troops retreated from the embattled metropolis of Severodonetsk.
As Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine entered its fifth month, regional governors reported strikes on army bases in western Ukraine’s Lviv area, in Zhytomyr west of Kyiv, and Chernihiv north-west of the capital.
Officers mentioned some missiles had been intercepted by surface-to-air defence techniques. Ukrainian and Russian army claims can’t be independently verified.
Early stories didn’t point out that there have been a excessive variety of casualties, however Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser in Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration, mentioned civilian targets had been hit.
Podolyak mentioned in a tweet: “48 Russian cruise missiles. At evening. All through the entire Ukraine.”
“Russia continues to be attempting to intimidate Ukraine, trigger panic and make folks be afraid of Z-monsters,” he added, referring to using the letter Z as a marking for a few of Russia’s invading forces.
The strikes got here simply earlier than Ukrainian officers mentioned that the majority troops had withdrawn from Severodonetsk, the provincial capital of the japanese Luhansk area which a Russian artillery onslaught has basically destroyed, to extra fortified positions.
Russia’s defence ministry mentioned its forces had taken full management of Severodonetsk and a number of other surrounding villages after a brutal weeks-long battle.
Close by Lysychansk is the one remaining main metropolis within the Luhansk area that has not fallen to Russian occupation. Ukraine nonetheless controls a number of main western cities within the close by Donetsk province, to the west of Lysychansk.
After failing to seize Kyiv and different main northern cities early in its invasion, Moscow has extra just lately centered its efforts on capturing floor in far japanese and southern coastal areas. It now controls 20 per cent of Ukrainian territory.
All through the battle Russia has carried out near-daily missile strikes. Greater than 1,400 have been launched based on Ukrainian officers, focusing on infrastructure and army installations in addition to attempting to stall the transport of heavy weapons from Kyiv’s western backers.
Russia has beforehand fired Iskander surface-to-surface missiles from Kremlin-allied Belarus, and Ukraine’s army intelligence mentioned Saturday’s strikes had been all fired from Belarus’s territory. That included 12 cruise missiles which had been launched by Russian Tu-22M3 bombers from Minsk’s airspace, the primary time this has occurred based on Kyiv.
“At the moment’s missile assaults, all of them, had been carried out in a single day from the territory of Belarus . . . From the air and from the land,” Brigadier Common Kyrylo Budanov, chief of Ukraine’s defence intelligence, mentioned.
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, mentioned Moscow would provide Belarus with Iskander-M tactical missiles that may carry each standard and nuclear warheads.
Putin advised his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday that Russia would ship the missiles, which have a most vary of as much as 500km, “over the following few months”.
Lukashenko requested Putin to equip Belarus’s fight plane with nuclear weapons, which he mentioned was vital “to guard our fatherland, from Brest to Vladivostok” from what he described as a risk from Nato. Putin declined however proposed upgrading Belarus’s fleet of Soviet-made Su-25 fighter jets in Russia.
The Belarusian strongman has deserted a geopolitical balancing act in recent times and thrown in his lot with Putin, letting him use Belarus for air and missile strikes through the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Early within the invasion Belarus allowed Russian forces to advance in direction of Kyiv from its territory however has not despatched its personal forces in.
Budanov mentioned Moscow is “once more scary us to assault Belarus” so as “to create a pretext” for Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko to affix Russia’s invasion.
Russia was additionally plotting to conduct terrorist assaults in Belarus, Budanov mentioned, blowing up homes, faculties and hospitals as a false flag operation to be blamed on Kyiv.
Lukashenko “is attempting to keep away from this,” Budanov mentioned, including: “He understands how it will finish for him.”
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