KYIV, Ukraine — Russia launched a massive airstrike on targets across Ukraine on Monday, the second widespread attack in four days, as fighting appeared to intensify ahead of an expected Ukrainian counter-offensive.
At least 34 people, including five children, were injured in Russian attacks on the central Ukrainian city of Pavlograd, according to local officials. Serhiy Lysak, the governor of Dnipropetrovsk region, which includes Pavlograd, said the strikes damaged dozens of buildings, including schools and homes, and caused a huge fire that lit up the night sky.
According to the Ukrainian military, explosions echoed in the skies above the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and other parts of the country as Ukrainian air defenses shot down 15 of 18 Russian cruise missiles. Ministry of Defense of Russia He said that it has started “Long-range high-precision air and sea-based missile strike against Ukrainian military-industrial complex.”
Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Kalushchenko said the overnight strikes did not affect power generation facilities but caused “significant damage” to distribution networks in and around the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine, cutting many people off the grid.
The missile barrage came as Ukrainian forces stepped up efforts to hit front-line Russian targets ahead of an expected push to recapture lost territory backed by newly supplied, powerful weapons from Western allies. Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, appeared on national television on Monday and said the military was “reaching the finish line” in preparations to launch a counterattack and that commanders would decide “how, where and when.”
Both sides have reported an increase in attacks in recent days. After firing a rocket at an apartment complex in central Ukraine on Friday, killing at least 23 people, Russia continued its front-line bombing of Ukrainian towns and villages over the weekend.
Tens of thousands of soldiers were killed and wounded in heavy fighting across eastern Ukraine, but little ground was gained by either side.
In Ukraine’s north, east and south, regional authorities reported Russian artillery, mortar, rocket or drone attacks in 11 regions in 24 hours, killing at least three people and destroying more than a hundred residential buildings. Ukrainian officials said Moscow’s forces shelled the Kherson region of southern Ukraine 39 times on Sunday, killing at least one civilian and wounding several others. Army’s Northern Command said A Facebook post A teenager was killed in a Russian airstrike in the Chernihiv region on Monday.
Russian-appointed officials in the occupied Crimean peninsula said air defenses had foiled a drone attack on Monday, two days after a drone was blamed for an explosion at an oil depot in Sevastopol, home of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea fleet. Natalia Humenyuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern military command, said the depot fire was part of preparations for a “broad, full-scale offensive that everyone expects” to begin soon.
The Ukrainian military said on Monday morning it had carried out four strikes on Russian troop concentrations in the previous 24 hours, but did not provide any details.
Residents of the occupied southern city of Berdyansk reported an overnight attack on a Russian airfield. Ukrainian media And Peter Andryushchenko, Advisor to the exiled mayor of the nearby city of Mariupol. The extent of the damage is unclear.
Ukrainian and Western officials say they have moved to defensive positions in the south as Russia continues to try to launch offensives around the devastated towns and cities of eastern Ukraine.
“Russian forces have developed some of the most elaborate systems of military defense seen anywhere in the world for decades,” Britain’s defense intelligence agency said on Monday. On a twitter MailThe agency said the extensive network highlighted “the deep concern of Russian leaders that Ukraine could achieve a major turning point.”