Russian bombings and Ukrainian airstrikes reflect widening war


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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces have intensified their battle to capture one of the beleaguered eastern Ukrainian towns not yet under their control, while continuing to fire on towns and villages in the north and south of the country, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday. .

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Russian shelling destroyed balconies and blew out windows in the southern region of Mykolaiv, injuring at least nine civilians, authorities said. A five-story building and private homes in the city of Voznesensk were badly damaged, the governor of the Black Sea region said.

“At 1.30 p.m. (local time) – nine injured, including four children. All children in serious condition. The ages range from 3 to 17,” Governor Vitaliy Kim wrote in a Telegram post. He added that a young girl had lost an eye following the attack on Saturday.

Reflecting the widening front lines of the nearly 6-month war in Ukraine, a Ukrainian airstrike hit targets in the largest Russian-occupied city in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia, according to local and supported Ukrainian officials by the Kremlin.

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Ukraine’s mayor of Melitopol said preliminary reports pointed to “a definite hit” at a Russian military base. The head of the Kremlin-backed administration said the attack damaged residential areas and lightly injured a civilian.

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In its daily update, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that intensified fighting had taken place around Bakhmut, a small town whose capture would allow Russia to threaten the two largest remaining Ukrainian urban centers. in the eastern region of Donbass.

Bakhmut has for weeks been a key target in Moscow’s eastern offensive as the Russian military tries to complete a months-long campaign to conquer all of Donbass, an industrial region that borders Russia where pro-separatists -Moscow have declared themselves a pair of independent republics.

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A local Ukrainian official reported heavy fighting on Saturday morning near four settlements on the border between Lugansk and Donetsk provinces, which together form the disputed region.

Luhansk Governor Serhii Haidai did not name the settlements or mention Bakhmut, which is about 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the border between the two provinces. Russian forces overran almost all of Lugansk last month and have since focused on capturing Ukrainian-held areas of Donetsk.

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Russian shelling killed seven civilians in Donetsk province on Friday, including four in Bakhmut, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram on Saturday. Taking Bakhmut would give the Russians the opportunity to advance on the province’s main Ukrainian towns, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

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The General Staff update said Sloviansk and Kramatorsk were also targeted on Friday, along with the northern Kharkiv region, home to Ukraine’s second-largest city.

Neither Moscow nor Kyiv have commented on the airstrike targeting Russian-occupied Melitopol in southern Ukraine. Earlier Saturday morning, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed that pro-Russian forces had downed Ukrainian shells near the town, as well as near a key power station in the Kherson region, which the Russians seized at the beginning of the war.

The head of the administration installed by the Kremlin in Melitopol confirmed on Saturday that the city had been under Ukrainian fire.

“During the night, the Kyiv regime launched two attacks against our beautiful Melitopol, in residential areas of the city. Russian air defense systems shot down missiles, but as a result of the shelling, the houses of residents of (two) streets were partially destroyed and damaged,” Galina Danilchenko said on Telegram.

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Ukrainian Mayor of Melitopol Ivan Ferodov said local Ukrainian authorities were collecting information about the strike.

“Tonight there were powerful explosions in Melitopol, which the whole city heard,” Ferodov said. “According to preliminary data, (it was) a precise hit on one of the Russian military bases, which the Russian fascists are trying to restore for the umpteenth time in the airfield area”,

Shortly after Dalnichenko’s message, Ferodov reported that residential areas of the city had been affected, but he blamed the strike that destroyed about 10 homes on Moscow-backed forces stationed in Melitopol. He also reiterated his earlier claim that a Ukrainian airstrike severely damaged a Russian military base.

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The Ukrainian governor of the southern region of Zaporizhzhia, partly controlled by Russia and where Melitopol is located, said on Friday evening that a child had been seriously injured by Russian shelling outside the regional capital that day.

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Governor Oleksandr Starukh said on Telegram the 8-year-old remained on a ventilator after the operation but was in “stable” condition. Starch added that the same attack in the town of Zaporizhzhia left two adult civilians with “injuries of moderate severity”.

Ukrainian officials indicated plans for a counter-offensive to recapture occupied areas in the south of the country while Russia focused mainly on the east.

Local authorities reported renewed Russian shelling overnight along a broad front, including the northern regions of Kharkiv and Sumy, which border Russia, as well as the eastern region of Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiv.

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Kozlowska reported from London.

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