Russians Hit Ukrainian Hospital as Both Sides Step Up Long-Range Strikes

KYIV, Ukraine – Explosions far behind the front lines rocked Ukraine on Friday, as a Russian missile demolished part of a hospital complex and Ukrainian strikes apparently targeted Russian-held cities. made, in their growing, long-range aerial warfare.

At least two people were killed, three were missing and at least 30 were wounded in an attack on a medical center in the central city of Dnipro, Ukrainian officials said. It destroyed a three-storey building and damaged many others.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky Posted a video on social media. A destroyed building, with its roof and upper walls missing, smoke billows into the sky, described as “another crime against humanity”.

Ukraine is expected to launch a major counterattack soon – some analysts say it is already in its early stages – and both sides have stepped up their attacks from a distance ahead of a confrontation on the ground. Kiev’s forces have increased. Speed ​​and range Attacks deep into Russian-held territory, primarily on military depots, convoys and troop concentrations, and railroads used by Russian forces.

On Friday, explosions were reported for the second time this week in the Russian-held southern city of Berdyansk, about 60 miles from the front. Vladimir Rogov, an official in the Russian occupation of southern Ukraine, said several loud explosions were heard in Berdiansk overnight and that Russian air defenses had repulsed the Ukrainian attack, a claim that could not be confirmed.

Ukraine’s military did not comment specifically on Berdyansk but said its air force “conducted five strikes targeting clusters of enemy manpower and equipment.” GeoConfirmed, one of several volunteer groups that closely track battlefield movements in Ukraine, Posted pictures on Twitter Effects were recorded in Berdiansk, showing a large fire, although it was unclear what was hit.

On Friday night, two large explosions rocked another occupied southern city of Mariupol, near the Azovstal steelworks about 40 miles from Berdyansk, according to Mariupol city government officials who fled before the Russians took over. Russian occupation authorities said that these were explosions. Because of Ukrainian missilesNewly supplied by Britain, according to the official news agency Tass.

Friday morning’s hospital strike on Dnipro followed one of Russia’s escalating overnight barrages aimed at cities and infrastructure far from the battlefield, using missiles and drones in an attempt to overwhelm Ukraine’s air defenses. was fired into the flags. Ukraine’s military said it had destroyed 10 of 17 missiles fired and 23 of 31 attack drones.

“Only an evil state can fight against the clinic,” Mr Zielinski wrote on Twitter. “There can be no military purpose in it. This is pure terrorism.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry told state media it had hit a Ukrainian ammunition depot.

The city of Dnipro is a hub for Ukrainian soldiers wounded in the war, usually the first stop before being transferred to hospitals in other parts of the country. It is unclear whether any Ukrainian soldiers were being treated at the facility that was hit on Friday.

“It was a really difficult night,” said Sirhi Lysak, head of the Dnipro regional government. One of the dead was a 69-year-old man who was “just passing by” when the hospital was hit, he said.

Since the launch of President Vladimir V. Putin’s full-scale invasion 15 months ago, Russia has used its arsenal to bomb civilian targets such as hospitals, schools and power plants across Ukraine, which is considered a war crime. Initially, long-range strikes were entirely unilateral and largely unprovoked.

But as Ukraine’s military has gained experience and acquired a growing array of Western weaponry, it has become more adept at deterring such Russian attacks, and better able to respond.

Last summer, the United States began supplying Ukraine. HIMARS rocket artillery The system, with a range of about 50 miles, made a significant difference in battle. In December, Ukraine showed it could. Adoption of Soviet-era surveillance drones Among the long-range weapons for striking inside Russia. And Britain this month began airstrikes on Ukraine, with extreme precision. Storm Shadow Cruise Missile With a range of about 150 miles – enough to reach any corner of Russian-held Ukraine.

after the Strike on Sunday in Berdiansklocal Russian officials claimed that Kiev had used the newly acquired storm shadow.

Russian forces have turned the port of Bardyansk on the Sea of ​​Azov into a military stronghold and use it as a base for troops. A transit point for suppliesAccording to military analysts.

Near the front lines in the Donetsk region, Russian forces Broke a dam Thursday on the Voucha River, threatening six villages, home to about 1,000 people, Ukrainian regional administrator Pavlo Kirilenko said on Friday. The strike may have been an attempt to disrupt the movement of Ukrainian troops behind lines, a tactic used by both sides in the war.

The Ukrainian government has repeatedly warned of the threat Russia would pose. Blow up the huge Kakhuvka Dam. On the Dnipro River, a vast area is sinking and depleting the reservoir that cools the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, triggering an emergency there.

Late on Friday, Ukrainian military intelligence warned that the Russians planned to trigger an emergency at the power plant “in the next few hours”, to provide a pretext for a ceasefire that would prevent retaliation. will The Ukrainian government has issued warnings about the risks to the plant before, but rarely so specifically.

Plant “will be struck”, followed by radioactive leak, Intelligence Dept Said on TelegramHe added that the Russians would blame Ukraine. Ukraine’s nuclear power company Energoatom repeated the accusation.

The Ukrainians offered no evidence for the claim, making it unclear whether it could be a case of disinformation to keep the Russians off balance. Hours later, a Russian occupation official claimed that it was the Ukrainians who were planning to trigger an emergency at the plant.

A US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the US was closely monitoring the situation but had no information to support the idea that the incident was planned. has gone The official said the United States has direct access to data from radiation sensors in the area.

Inspectors from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency are based at the Zaporizhzhia plant, and some incoming and outgoing rotations were scheduled for Friday. The Ukrainians said the Russians had disrupted it. The Russian state energy company that oversees the plant told Tass that the Ukrainians had blocked it.

The UN agency declined to comment.

On the diplomatic front, Pope Francis, who has offered the Vatican to mediate, has refused to endorse the position of Ukraine and many of its Western supporters that Russia must return all Ukrainian territory it has seized. Have taken. Kiev has made it a condition for peace talks, insisting that otherwise, any ceasefire would only consolidate Russian gains.

In an interview Thursday, in Spanish, with Telemundo Network, Francis was asked twice if Russia should give up the territory. For the first time he did not answer the question directly.

“This is a political issue,” he said a second time. “Peace will only come when they can talk to each other.”

Andrew E. Kramer And Maria Varnikova Contributed reporting from Pokrosk, Ukraine, and Julian E. Barnes From Washington

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