- Russian strike destroys apartment building; 3 dead – officials
- Zelenskiy gives a gloomy assessment of the Russian offensive in the east
- Zelenskiy promises more anti-corruption measures
- New Russian offensive could begin on February 24 – Minister of Ukraine
KYIV, Feb. 2 (Reuters) – Fighting on the frontlines in eastern Ukraine “has toughened” as Russian troops push for gains they can show on the first anniversary of their invasion on Feb. 24, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a statement. gloomy review.
Russia, determined to make progress before Ukraine receives newly committed Western main battle tanks and armored vehicles, has picked up momentum on the battlefield and is announcing advances north and south of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in Donetsk.
Bakhmut and 10 towns and villages around it came under Russian fire, the Ukrainian army said late Wednesday. Bakhmut has been bombed continuously by Russia for months.
Avdiivka, another major Russian target, the nearby town of Maryinka and some neighboring settlements were also hit, the army added.
In Kramatorsk, about 55km northwest of Bakhmut, a Russian missile destroyed an apartment building on Wednesday and damaged seven, killing at least three people and injuring 20, police said.
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“There has been a marked increase in the offensive operations of the occupiers at the front in the east of our country. The situation has become more difficult,” said Zelenskiy.
“The enemy is at least now trying to achieve something to show that Russia has some chance on the anniversary of the invasion,” he added in an evening video address.
Zelenskiy pledged more anti-corruption measures as authorities continued the raids ahead of a meeting in Kiev with more than a dozen top European Union officials on Friday, reflecting a determination to show that Ukraine is a trusted multibillion-dollar steward. can be of assistance.
Ukraine sees the meeting as important to its hopes of joining the bloc, which could take years.
Earlier, security officials searched the home of businessman Ihor Kolomoiskiy, a one-time ally of Zelenskiy, in what the media said was an investigation into suspected financial crimes.
Kolomoiskiy was not immediately available for comment. He has denied any allegation.
THE ROCKET HITS KRAMATORSK
In Kramatorsk, police said a Russian Iskander-K tactical missile hit at 21:45 (1945 GMT).
“At least eight apartment buildings have been damaged. One has been completely destroyed,” police said in a Facebook post.
“People can stay under the rubble.”
In January, at least 44 people were killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the city of Dnipro.
In April 2022, Ukraine said 57 people were killed when a Russian missile hit the train station in Kramatorsk. Russia, which denies targeting civilians, said the missile was Ukrainian.
A former commander of the Russian mercenary group Wagner who fled to Norway in January told Reuters he wanted to apologize for the fighting in Ukraine and spoke out to bring perpetrators of atrocities to justice.
“First of all, repeatedly and again, I want to apologize,” said 26-year-old Andrei Medvedev.
Ukraine and its Western allies have accused the Russian armed forces of war crimes. Russia rejects that.
The Wagner group is engaged in a war of attrition in Donetsk.
‘WE NEED WEAPONS’
Donetsk and Luhansk, annexed by Russia in September following mock referendums, form Ukraine’s industrial region of Donbas – targeted by Russian troops after a failed advance on the capital Kyiv early in the campaign.
In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian forces have repelled attacks on several centers in Donetsk, including Bakhmut, Krasna Hora and Blahodatne, Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said.
Russian troops say they took Blahodatne, just north of Bakhmut, on Tuesday.
They also pushed into southern Bakhmut, using their superior troop numbers to try to cut off supplies and drive out the Ukrainians, Ukrainian military analyst Yevhen Dikiy said.
“This is the most difficult scenario for us,” Dikiy told Espreso TV, referring to what he called a “measure of success” for Russian troops.
“The enemy can use his only resource, which he has in abundance, his men.”
Reuters could not confirm the battlefield reports.
Russia and Ukraine are believed to be preparing new offensives and Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said a Russian advance could begin around the symbolically significant February 24 date.
“We keep telling our partners that we need to be ready for this as soon as possible. And that’s why we need weapons,” Reznikov told France’s BFM TV during a visit to Paris on Tuesday.
Ukraine has secured pledges of weapons from the West offering new capabilities – the latest expected this week are missiles from the United States that would nearly double the range of Ukrainian forces.
The Kremlin said longer-range missiles from the United States would escalate the conflict but not change course.
President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine last year for a “special military operation” to “demilitarize” and “denazify” his neighbor, but he now views the campaign as a fight to defend Russia against an aggressive West.
Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of waging an illegal war to expand its territory.
Reporting by Reuters agencies; writing by Grant McCool and Himani Sarkar; Edited by Cynthia Osterman and Robert Birsel
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