Ukraine says Russia is preparing for next attack

Ukraine said Russia was regrouping for an attack on Sloviansk, a symbolically important Ukrainian-held city in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Scott Olson | Good pictures

Russia is preparing for the next offensive in Ukraine, a Ukrainian military official said, after Moscow said it would step up military operations “in all operational areas”.

Russian rockets and missiles have hit cities, killing dozens in recent days, according to Kyiv.

“It’s not just missile attacks from the air and the sea,” Vadim Skibitsky, a spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence, said on Saturday. “Throughout contact, we can see shelling on the entire front line. Tactical aircraft and attack helicopters are actively used.

“In fact there is a certain amount of activity by the enemy along the entire front line…Preparations are now underway for the next phase of the attack.”

The Ukrainian military said Russia was regrouping units for an attack on the symbolically important city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Ukraine says Russian shelling has killed at least 40 people in urban areas over the past three days as the war, launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, has escalated.

Three people, including a 70-year-old woman, were killed and three others wounded when rockets hit the northeastern city of Suhuiv in Kharkiv region on Friday night, regional governor Oleh Sinehupov said.

“Three people lost their lives, why? Why? Because Putin is mad?” said 83-year-old Raisa Shaboval, a distraught resident sitting in the rubble of her home.

In the south, more than 50 Russian Grad rockets hit the Dnipro River city of Nikopol, killing two people found in the rubble, Governor Valentin Resnichenko said.

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Moscow calls the invasion a “special military operation” and says it is using high-precision weapons to destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure and protect its own security. It has repeatedly denied targeting civilians.

Kiev and the West say the conflict is an unprovoked attempt to recapture a country freed from Moscow’s rule with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered military units to intensify operations to prevent Ukrainian attacks in eastern Ukraine and other Russian-controlled areas where they could hit Kyiv civilian infrastructure or residents, according to a ministry statement.

His comments appeared to be a direct response to what Kyiv said was a string of successful attacks on 30 Russian logistics and munitions centers recently, using Western-supplied multiple-launch rocket systems.

The strikes are wreaking havoc on Russian supply lines and significantly reducing Russia’s offensive capabilities, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry spokesman said on Friday.

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