By Valentin Ugorenko and Gleb Garanich
KIEV (Reuters) – Russia launched a massive wave of strikes in Kiev and across Ukraine, causing destruction and casualties, officials said early on Monday, as Moscow prepared for the Victory Day holiday commemorating its defeat of Nazi Germany.
At least five people were wounded in the Russian strikes on Kiev, Ukrainian officials said, while Russian missiles set a food warehouse on fire in the Black Sea city of Odessa and explosions were reported in several other Ukrainian regions.
The new attacks come as Moscow prepares for the Victory Day parade on Tuesday, a key anniversary for President Vladimir Putin who stoked the spirit of the Soviet army that defeated Nazi German forces to declare that Russia would defeat Ukraine supposedly in the grip of a state. A new incarnation of Nazism.
The top Ukrainian general in charge of defending the besieged city said that Russia has intensified its bombardment of Bakhmut in hopes of capturing it by Tuesday, after the Russian mercenary group Wagner abandoned plans to withdraw from it.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on his Telegram channel that three people were injured in explosions in the Solomyansky district of Kiev and two others were injured when drone debris fell on the Svyatoshin district, west of the center of the capital.
The military department in Kiev said that the wreckage of a drone fell on the runway of Giuliani Airport, one of the two passenger airports in the Ukrainian capital, and did not cause a fire, but emergency services were working at the site.
It also said that in the Shevchenkivsky district of central Kiev, debris from drones appeared to have hit a two-storey building, causing damage. There was no immediate information on possible losses.
Reuters witnesses said they heard several explosions in Kiev and local officials said air defense systems were repelling the attacks. It was not immediately clear how many drones were fired at Kiev.
Serhiy Prachuk, a spokesman for the military department in Odessa, posted on his Telegram channel images of a large building engulfed in flames, in what he said was a Russian attack on a food warehouse, among other things.
After air raid alerts sounded for hours over nearly two-thirds of Ukraine, there were also media reports of the sounds of explosions in the southern region of Kherson and in the Zaporizhia region in the southeast.
Vladimir Rogov, a Russian local official in Zaporizhia, said Russian forces had bombed a warehouse and outpost of Ukrainian forces in Orekiv, a small city in the region. Reuters could not independently verify the news.
Separately, Russian forces bombed eight locations in northeastern Ukraine’s Sumy region on Sunday, the regional military administration said in a Facebook post.
In the past two weeks, strikes on Russian-controlled targets have also intensified, especially in Crimea. Ukraine, without confirming any role in those attacks, says the destruction of enemy infrastructure is preparation for its long-awaited ground offensive.
Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, calling it a “special military operation” to defend Russia against neo-Nazis in Ukraine, but Kiev and its allies say it was an unjustified land grab.
The invasion sparked the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II, killing thousands and forcing millions to flee the country.
(Reporting by Valentin Ogirienko, Gleb Garanich, Lydia Kelly and Elaine Monaghan; Writing by Lydia Kelly; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Michael Berry)
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