KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — Russian missiles rained down on Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, hitting a city that is a major base of Ukrainian military operations, amid warnings from Kiev. Moscow launched a new offensive In the 11-month war.
Russian President Vladimir V. The strike came hours before Putin was expected to rally domestic support for his invasion of Ukraine. Anniversary of the Soviet victory over the Nazis at StalingradA decisive battle of World War II and considered by many Russians to be a symbol of wartime heroism.
Russian offensives are intensifying in Kramatorsk, the longtime command center of the Ukrainian military and a staging ground for Ukraine’s defense of the Ukrainian city of Baghmut, which Russia is close to capturing after months of brutal fighting. Although it came at a great cost in Russian and Ukrainian lives, the fall of Pakmut was Moscow’s first significant military victory since the summer.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said a large Russian troop build-up in occupied parts of eastern Ukraine, along with a sharp increase in artillery fire in the east, signaled the start of a new Russian offensive. On Wednesday night, at least three people were killed and a dozen injured when a rocket hit a four-story apartment complex in Kramatorsk.
As rescue workers dug frantically through the rubble Thursday to find entry into the basement where residents may have been hiding, a flash and two missiles struck nearby, sending firefighters flying in all directions.
One missile hit a yard, wrecking several vehicles and a row of garages, while another stuck in the middle of the road. Residents fled to the basement as police warned of additional missiles coming.
Pavlo Kyrilenko, head of the regional military administration, said Thursday that the strikes hit residential buildings and caused injuries, but he did not immediately provide details.
Kramatorsk is the largest Ukrainian city near the epicenter of the struggle for the eastern region known as the Donbass. It has been a hive of military activity, with an increasing number of soldiers and armored personnel in recent days. Pakmut is about 20 miles away, and the whole area is bombarded almost daily by Russian artillery.
It is unclear why the apartment building was targeted. At the blast site, mangled and charred remains of several vehicles appeared to belong to the military.
“We just need to take Putin’s head off and everything will be fine,” said a 65-year-old woman who would only give her name as Svitlana.
In April, a missile attack killed at least 50 people and injured many others Kramatorsk Railway Station. The attacks continued: a Russian missile landed outside a kindergarten in the city last week. gap groove. On Wednesday, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office He said that he had opened it A war crimes investigation into the latest attack.
“This is not history repeating itself; This is the daily reality of our country,” Mr.
The Ukrainian leader repeated his plea for more advanced weapons – Fighter planes and long-range missiles – and now Western battle tanks are on the way. Ukraine’s allies have provided Kiev with an ever-growing arsenal, but many are reluctant to meet its demands for military jets.
Carly Olson in New York and Matthew Mpoke Bigg Contributed reporting in London.