Russia’s defense minister yesterday ordered its forces to step up attacks “in all operational sectors” of Ukraine, days after President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia has “not yet begun its efforts in earnest” as the war nears its five-month mark.
According to estimates by the US Pentagon, up to 150 civilians have been killed by Russian airstrikes in the past two weeks.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has issued a nationwide air alert as Russia ramps up attacks beyond the front lines. About 70 percent of Russian attacks were aimed at non-military infrastructure, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.
Since Friday, rockets have hit residential areas in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, the southern city of Mykolayiv and the eastern cities of Chuhuiv and Nikopol.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said yesterday the United States has information that Russian officials recently visited an airfield in Iran twice to inspect drones they planned to acquire for the war.
The White House released satellite images that allegedly showed “attack-ready” UAVs in flight while a Russian delegation transport plane was at the airfield. Iran on Friday dismissed allegations that it was supplying hundreds of drones to Russia.
Rocket attacks in eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions, reported yesterday, are the latest in a series of Russian attacks that have resulted in an air alert taking effect over most of the country.
Three people were killed in rocket attacks on the city of Chuhuiv in the Kharkiv region – two men in their 60s and a 70-year-old woman, Gov. Oleh Synehubov said on Telegram. Three others were hospitalized and an apartment building was destroyed, he said.
In the town of Nikopol on the banks of the Dnipro River, Dnipropetrovsk Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said more than 50 rockets sprayed residential areas. The bodies of two people were pulled from under the rubble of a house, he said, and a woman was taken to hospital.
Following Russian airstrikes on shopping malls, apartments and other civilian facilities in Ukraine, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu yesterday ordered his forces to step up attacks “in all operational sectors” in Ukraine.
The order was issued nine days after Putin’s July 7 warning that Russia had “not yet seriously started” its war against Ukraine.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Shoigu heard reports from commanders of the southern and central military groups waging the war against Ukraine.
The ministry said Shoigu “gave the order to rule out the possibility of the Kiev regime launching massive rocket and artillery attacks on civilian infrastructure and residents.”
Russian Kalibr missile attacks from the sea on Vinnytsia in western Ukraine killed at least 23 people, including three children. President Zelenskyy called the attack on Vinnytsia “an open act of terrorism” and called on the international community to designate Russia as a terrorist state.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that the rocket attack on Vinnytsia hit a military cultural club where Ukrainian military met with representatives of foreign arms suppliers. It offered no evidence. Earlier, the editor-in-chief of the state-controlled RT, Margarita Simonyan, said the attack was aimed at “Nazis”.
An air alert was declared over most of Ukraine late Friday after Russian attacks on Vinnytsia and university buildings in Mykolayiv, Zelenskyy said.
“Right now, as I write this address, the air alert is over nearly all of our state’s territory,” Zelensky said in a late-night address. “We will definitely restore everything they destroyed.”
He said four people were in critical condition and four others were missing after scores were injured and three children killed in a strike at a high-rise office building in Vinnytsia on Thursday, according to the country’s state emergency services. Further south, in the city of Mykolaiv, two university facilities were hit by rockets on Friday, the regional governor said.
“So, I ask you again: Please do not ignore the air alert signals now,” Zelenskyy told the Nation. “Appropriate rules of conduct must be observed at all times. . . . We still have to fight. And we will fight.”
The Russian attack on an industrial area in Dnipro – Ukraine’s third most populous city – left at least three dead and 15 wounded, Ukrainian officials said on Friday. Cars burned and smashed the windows of nearby apartment buildings in the attack, local officials said.
Ukrainian forces have successfully repelled Russian attacks after withdrawing from the city of Lysychansk earlier this month, Britain’s Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update yesterday. Lysychansk was the last major urban area controlled by Kyiv in Luhansk, the country’s easternmost region.
But the withdrawal has allowed the Ukrainian military to shorten and straighten its front-line defensive positions, allowing it to concentrate its forces and fire against Russian advances.
This was “key to reducing Russia’s momentum,” the ministry said.
Kremlin forces have been on a pause in operations this week, despite launching small frontline offensives, according to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.
They now appear to be emerging from that dormant period, the think tank said on Friday.
On the diplomatic front, Germany will give Moldova $40 million (€39.6 million) in direct budget support to help the eastern European country deal with the aftermath of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“Due to Russia’s brutality, we may not have the power today or tomorrow to stop the war in Ukraine.
“But we have the means to help a democratic country avoid being crushed by the effects of this war,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock tweeted on Friday after a conference supporting Moldova in Bucharest, Romania.
The relief plan, which Ms. Baerbock described as “a direct grant to help the poorest families” in the country, will be submitted to the Bundestag for approval, she told the conference.
She said Moldova, which borders Ukraine and is home to an influx of refugees from that country, has felt the “economic shockwaves” of the conflict.
Fears of war spilling over also grew in Moldova earlier this year, after explosions were reported in the Russia-linked breakaway region of Transnistria and a Russian commander indicated Moscow intended to create a route there through southern Ukraine. (©Washington Post)
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/kremlin-orders-russian-forces-to-ramp-up-all-attacks-on-ukraine-41845520.html The Kremlin orders Russian forces to step up all attacks on Ukraine