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Russian missiles strike across Ukraine as war enters fifth month

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On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine.

Kyiv:

Russian missiles rained across Ukraine on Saturday, hitting military facilities in the west and north as well as the southern city as the largest land conflict in Europe entered its fifth month of World War Two.

Russian artillery and airstrikes smashed the twin cities of Svyarodonetsk and Lisichansk in the eastern Luhansk region on Friday at a chemical plant where hundreds of civilians were trapped, a Ukrainian official said on Saturday.

Ukraine said on Friday that its troops were ordered to withdraw from Svyarodonetsk because there was little left to defend after weeks of intense fighting, the biggest reversal for Ukraine since losing the port of Mariupol in May.

News of the withdrawal came four months after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent thousands of troops to the border, sparking a conflict that has killed thousands, uprooted millions and disrupted the global economy.

“48 cruise missiles. At night. All over Ukraine,” said Mykhailo Podolik, adviser to the President of Ukraine, on Twitter. “Russia is still trying to intimidate Ukraine, spread panic and intimidate people.”

The latest Russian advances appeared to bring Moscow closer to taking full control of Luhansk, one of Putin’s objectives, and set the stage for Lischansk to become the next main focus.

Vitaly Kiselev, an official in the interior ministry of these separatist Luhansk People’s Republics – only recognized by Russia – told Russia’s TASS news agency that it would take a week and a half to secure full control of Lysychansk.

Serhi Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, said Russian forces attacked the industrial area of ​​Svyarodonetsk and also attempted to enter and blockade Lisichansk on Saturday.

“There was an airstrike in Lisichansk. Svyerodonetsk was hit by artillery,” Gedai said on the Telegram messaging app. Shellings have been carried out at the Azot chemical plant in Svyarodonetsk and the villages of Sinetsky and Pavlograd, and others.

He made no mention of casualties at the Azot plant and Reuters could not immediately confirm the information. Gaidai said police officers, rescue teams and volunteers evacuated 17 people from Lisichansk on Friday.

military facilities

Kharatin Starsky, the press officer of Ukraine’s National Guard brigade, said on television on Saturday that there had been a delay in the flow of information about the withdrawal from Svyarodonetsk to protect troops on the ground.

“During the last (several) days, there was an operation to withdraw our troops,” Starsky said.

Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, in what it called a “special military operation”, but abandoned an initial advance on the capital Kyiv due to fierce resistance by Ukrainian fighters with the help of Western weapons.

Since then Moscow and its allies have focused on the south and the Donbass, an eastern region made up of Luhansk and its neighbor Donetsk, deploying heavy artillery.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday he feared that Ukraine could be pressured into a peace deal with Russia. Johnson said the consequences of getting in Putin’s way in Ukraine would be dangerous to international security and a long-term economic disaster.

On Saturday, Russia fired missiles again at military and civilian infrastructure in the north near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said on Saturday.

Several regional governors reported attacks on towns across Ukraine on Saturday.

Russia denies targeting civilians. Kyiv and the West maintain that the Russian military has committed war crimes against civilians.

Maxim Kozitsky, the governor of the Lviv region in western Ukraine, said in a video posted online that six missiles were fired from the Black Sea at the Yvoriv base near the border with Poland. Four hit the target but two were destroyed.

Vitaly Bunenko, the governor of the Zhytomyr region in the country’s north, said at least one soldier was killed in an attack on a military target.

“About 30 missiles were launched at a military infrastructure facility very near the city of Zhytomyr,” Bunenko said, adding that about 10 missiles were intercepted and destroyed.

To the south, Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich near the Black Sea said five cruise missiles hit the city and surrounding areas on Saturday. The casualties are being clarified.

‘Orderly Retreat’

Ukraine again pressed for more weapons on Friday, with its top general, Valery Zaluzny, telling his US counterpart in a phone call that Kyiv needed “fire parity” with Moscow to stabilize the situation in Luhansk. the wanted.

South of Svyarodonetsk, Ukrainian troops also withdrew from the cities of Hirske and Zolot in the face of heavy Russian forces, said Oleksiy Erestovich, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukraine’s foreign minister downplayed the importance of the potential loss of more territory in the Donbass.

“Putin wanted to capture Donbass by 9 May. We are (there) on 24 June and are still fighting. Withdrawing from some battles does not mean losing the war,” Dimitro Culeba said in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Said Sera in the interview.

The British Defense Ministry said on Saturday that Russia is likely to withdraw several generals from key command roles in the Ukraine conflict this month.

The war has had a massive impact on the global economy and European security regimes, increasing gas, oil and food prices, prompting the EU to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian energy, and prompting Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership.

In response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the West has imposed an unprecedented package of sanctions on Russia, its top companies and its business and political elite.

In a major sign of support, EU leaders this week approved Ukraine’s formal candidacy to join the bloc – a decision which, Russia said on Friday, amounted to “slavery” of the EU’s neighboring countries. .

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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