Russia steps up battle for town in eastern Ukraine

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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 from the country.

Ukrainian officials said on Saturday that Russian shelling had collapsed balconies and blown out windows in the southern region of Mykolaiv, injuring at least nine civilians.

A five-story building and private homes in the city of Voznesensk were badly damaged, the governor of the Black Sea region said.

Vitaliy Kim wrote in a Telegram post: “At 1:30 p.m. (local time) – nine injured, including four children. All children in serious condition. Ages range from three to 17 years old.

He added that a young girl had lost an eye following the attack on Saturday.

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

A worker cleans up after an early morning rocket attack that hit Kramatorsk College of Technology and Design in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine (David Goldman/AP)

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.

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.

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

Russian forces overran almost all of Luhansk last month and have since focused on capturing Ukrainian-held areas of Donetsk.

Residents are waiting for helpLocal residents wait their turn to receive humanitarian aid at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s St. Strytensky Temple in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk (David Goldman/AP)

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.

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 that the city had been under Ukrainian fire.

Galina Danilchenko said on Telegram: “During the night, the Kyiv regime launched two attacks on 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.

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