Russia has stepped up its bombardment across Ukraine, with intense shelling of Sumy in the north, banned cluster bombs targeting Mykolaiv and a missile strike in Odesa in the south.
At least two civilians were killed and 15 wounded by Russian shelling across the country over the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s presidential office said.
In Odesa, an attack injured at least four people, burned houses to the ground and set other homes on fire, Oleksii Matsulevych, a spokesman for the regional administration, said.
Russian forces fired seven Kalibr cruise missiles at the region, hitting houses, a school and a community centre.
Russian forces targeted Mykolaiv with cluster shells, injuring at least two people and damaging windows and roofs of private houses, the Ukrainian city’s mayor Oleksandr Senkevich said.
More than 150 mines and shells had been fired on the Sumy region, Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, the head of the Sumy regional military administration, said.
‘They fired mortars, barrel and rocket artillery. The Russians also opened fire using machine guns and grenade launchers,’ he said.
The Russian Defence Ministry said strikes on the village of Bilenke in Odesa had a legitimate military goal and ‘destroyed depots of ammunition for weapons supplied by the United States and European countries’.
‘These strikes on peaceful people have one goal – to intimidate the population and the authorities and keep them in constant tension,’ Serhiy Bratchuk, the speaker of the Odesa regional government, told Ukrainian television.
Russian troops have tried unsuccessfully to advance towards the city of Avdiyivka north of Donetsk, the head of Avdiyivka’s military administration, Vitaliy Barabash, said on Tuesday.
He said Ukrainian forces have pushed back the Russians after the latter attacked for several days.
‘Enemy losses are much bigger than ours,’ he said, and include about 40 dead.
Kyiv hopes the war is at a turning point, with Moscow having exhausted its offensive capabilities in seizing a few small cities in the east, while Ukraine now fields long-range Western weapons that can strike behind Russian lines.
Kyiv cites a string of successful strikes on 30 Russian logistics and ammunition hubs, which it says are crippling Russia’s artillery-dominated forces that need to transport thousands of shells to the front each day.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Valery Zaluzhny, credited U.S.-supplied advanced long-range rocket systems known as HIMARS with helping to ‘stabilize the situation’ through ‘major strikes at enemy command points, ammunition and fuel storage warehouses.’