The Ukrainian capital was attacked again on Friday, but the air defenses of the besieged nation intercepted all 15 cruise missiles and 18 drones launched by Russian forces, military authorities in Kiev said.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from falling debris after the barrage of missiles hit the city in the early morning hours.
Meanwhile, General Serhiy Popko, head of the military administration in Kiev, separately said that about 30 hostile objects were destroyed.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has again highlighted the problems with Kiev’s bomb shelters following the attacks.
Kiev residents have reported a shortage of bunkers, closed bunkers and limited access, Zelensky said in his overnight video message. In some districts, there were no shelters at all, he added.
“This level of neglect in the city cannot be covered by any apology,” Zelenskyi said, instructing his government to handle the matter.
Kiev has faced fresh attacks over the past month, with Russian forces firing more missiles and drones at the city than in any similar period since Moscow began its full-scale invasion in February last year.
In Bakhmut, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said nearly all of its fighters had withdrawn from the captured eastern Ukrainian city.
Prigozhin said on Friday evening that 99% of the units had left the city.
“All positions have been handed over to the (Russian) Ministry of Defense in the appropriate order.”
Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine, the head of Russia’s Chechen republic in the North Caucasus, Ramzan Kadyrov, said his Akhmat combat unit had launched offensives in the Donetsk region.
Much of the town of Maryinka was captured by his troops, who were fighting alongside regular Russian soldiers, he said on Telegram. His claim cannot be independently verified.
In Russia, two people were killed and six others injured in the Belgorod border region after heavy shelling by the Ukrainian side, according to Russian officials.
Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said the missiles hit private property near the border town of Valuyki. Among the injured two children.
Gladkov called the situation in the region unsafe, due to the frequent shelling he has seen in recent days.
Gladkov had earlier announced that two women had been killed by shelling in the same region. The women were traveling by car near the town of Shebekino when shrapnel hit their vehicle, he said.
Two men were hospitalized with serious injuries, he said, blaming the Ukrainian military for the attacks.
His statements cannot be independently verified.
The western Russian regions of Kursk, Bryansk, Smolensk and Kaluga also reported being attacked with drones and explosions.
Two Russian volunteer paramilitary battalions have repeatedly claimed responsibility for such attacks. Groups called “Russian Volunteer Corps” and “Legion of Freedom of Russia” are fighting for Ukraine, but they are made up of Russian nationalists.
The British Defense Ministry said these attacks on Russian territory by pro-Ukrainian partisans were generating a problem for the Russian military.
“Russian commanders now face an acute dilemma of whether to do so [strengthen] defenses in Russia’s border regions or reinforce their lines in occupied Ukraine,” reads its daily update.
While Russian forces had shown quicker success in containing this raid than the previous one, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, they had “resorted to deploying the full range of military firepower on their territory, including attack helicopters and the TOS-1A heavy thermobaric rocket launcher,” the UK’s defense ministry said.
Meanwhile, in an assessment of hostilities overall, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine was “a case study of failure” in terms of equipment, technology, leadership, troops, Russia’s strategy, tactics and morale, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday.
Speaking in Helsinki, he said: ‘When you look at President Putin’s long-term strategic goals and games, there is no doubt that Russia is much worse off today than it was before his full-scale invasion of Ukraine. – militarily, economically, geopolitically.”
Where Putin had aimed to show strength, he had revealed weakness, and where he had thought of dividing, he had united, Blinken said.
The Russian president had damaged his country’s economy, which was now a fraction of what it might have become had he invested in technology and innovation rather than weapons and warfare, Blinken said.
As Ukraine seeks more weapons to repel the invasion, China’s special envoy for Eurasia Li Hui has called for a halt to arms deliveries to the conflict region.
Neither Russia nor Ukraine had closed the door on negotiations, Li said in Beijing, after a trip last month to Ukraine, Russia and several EU countries.
“We should stop sending weapons to the battlefield, otherwise we will simply increase the risk of escalation of tensions,” he said, according to Chinese state television.
The special envoy called for a ceasefire and peace talks but, in line with Beijing’s policy, did not condemn the Russian invasion. He highlighted them the effects of the conflict on nuclear safety, food supply and humanitarian issues.
However, the German government has procured more military vehicles to support Ukraine, a defense ministry spokesman said.
A contract has been signed with Flensburger Fahrzeugbau (FFG) for 66 troop carriers and the new vehicles are to be delivered to Ukraine and used there to transport infantry, he said.
FFG was selected after it emerged that its armored vehicles were six to seven times cheaper than rival Rheinmetall’s Fuchs wheeled armored vehicles, according to government sources.
It was unclear when the FFG tanks would be sent to Ukraine. The German government is also purchasing 64 multi-purpose vehicles from FFG, older vehicles originally manufactured by Sweden and modernized by FFG. The ministry did not disclose the sums involved.