- Russia says it is stepping up operations
- The southern city is the latest target of long-range bombings
- Forty dead in bombings since Thursday, according to Kyiv
- War overshadows G20 meeting, no communiqué agreed
KYIV, July 16 (Reuters) – Russia said on Saturday its forces would step up military operations in Ukraine in “all operational areas”, as rockets and missiles from Moscow pounded towns in strikes that Kyiv said have killed dozens in recent days.
Rockets hit the town of Chuhuiv in northeastern Kharkiv region overnight, killing three people including a 70-year-old woman and wounding three others, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said. Read more
“Three people lost their lives, why? Why ? Because Putin has gone mad? said Raisa Shapoval, 83, a distraught resident sitting in the ruins of her home.
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To the south, more than 50 Russian Grad rockets pounded the town of Nikopol, on the Dnipro River, killing two people who were found in the rubble, said the region’s governor, Valentyn Reznichenko.
Ukraine says at least 40 people have been killed in such attacks on urban areas in the past three days. Russia claims to have hit military targets.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered military units to step up operations to prevent Ukrainian strikes on eastern Ukraine and other Russian-held areas, where he said Kyiv could strike civilian infrastructure or residents.
“Obviously, preparations are now underway for the next stage of the offensive,” said Vadym Skibitskyi, a Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman, adding that there was Russian shelling all along the frontline. and the active use of attack helicopters.
Shoigu, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was shown in military fatigues at a command post on the Defense Ministry’s Zvezda TV channel briefing on the war and awarding ‘Golden Star’ medals for heroism to two generals.
His remarks appeared to be a direct response to what Kyiv says were a series of successful strikes carried out on 30 Russian logistics and munitions centers using several multiple rocket launcher systems recently supplied by the West.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry spokesman said on Friday that the strikes were wreaking havoc on Russian supply lines and had significantly reduced Russia’s offensive capability. Read more
On Saturday, Ukraine’s military said Russia appeared to be regrouping units for an offensive towards Sloviansk, a symbolically important Ukrainian-held city in the Donetsk region.
WAR OF ATTRITION
As the war has focused on Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, Russian forces have hit towns elsewhere in the country with missiles and rockets in what has become an increasingly attritional conflict.
Moscow, which launched what it called its “special military operation” against Ukraine on February 24, says it is using high-precision weapons to degrade Ukraine’s military infrastructure and protect its own security . He has repeatedly denied targeting civilians.
Kyiv and the West say the conflict is an unprovoked attempt to reclaim a country that broke free from Moscow’s rule with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In a recent attack that has sparked outrage in Ukraine and its Western allies, Kalibr cruise missiles hit an office building in Vinnytsia, a city of 370,000 people about 200 km (125 km) on Thursday. miles) southwest of Kyiv. Read more
Kyiv said the strike killed at least 23 people and injured dozens. Among the dead was a 4-year-old girl with Down syndrome named Liza, found in the rubble next to a pram. Footage of her performing shortly before the attack quickly went viral.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the strike on Vinnytsia targeted a building where senior Ukrainian armed forces officials were meeting with foreign arms suppliers. Read more
Late Friday, Russian missiles hit the town of Dnipro, about 120 km (75 miles) north of Nikopol, killing three people and injuring 15, said Reznychenko, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region which includes the two towns. on Telegram, adding that an industrial plant and a busy street nearby were affected.
“When the shock wave hit, there was little splintering because all my windows were taped up,” a local woman named Klavdia told Reuters.
“People whose windows weren’t protected like that, there was a lot of blood, their wounds were horrible. I saw a little child all covered in blood. It was awful,” she said .
Russia said it destroyed a factory in Dnipro making missile parts.
CONFLICT DIVIDES THE G20
The war dominated a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Indonesia. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said differences over the dispute had prevented finance chiefs and central bankers from issuing an official statement, but they agreed on the need to address the worsening food security crisis. Read more
“It’s a difficult time because Russia is part of the G20 and doesn’t agree with us on how to characterize war,” Yellen said.
Western countries have imposed harsh sanctions on Russia and accused it of war crimes in Ukraine, which Moscow denies. Other G20 countries, including China, India and South Africa, have been more muted in their response.
In a spillover from the conflict, a blockade restricting Ukrainian grain exports has prompted warnings that it could put millions of people in poorer countries at risk of starvation.
Despite the bloodshed, Russia and Ukraine outlined progress towards an agreement to lift a blockade in recent talks. Turkey, which is mediating, said an agreement could be signed next week.
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Reporting from Reuters offices Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Alex Richardson, Matt Spetalnick; Editing by William Mallard, Nick Macfie, Frances Kerry and Paul Simao
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