Russian forces pound Ukrainian cities, killing at least 12
Russia’s first large-scale air attacks in nearly two months come as Ukraine prepares for a counteroffensive.
At least 12 people have been killed and several injured after Russian forces attacked cities and regions across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, in a series of night-time air raids.
Rescue workers were searching for survivors on Friday, hours after the first large-scale assault in months.
In the central city of Uman, at least 10 people were killed and 17 wounded when a missile hit an apartment building, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.
In Dnipro, city’s Mayor Borys Filatov said, a woman and a young child were killed in the attacks in the early hours of Friday but gave no further details.
“No more words,” he wrote.
Videos shared on social media showed part of the building in Uman, a city of 80,000 people in the Cherkasy oblast, up in flames with rubble underneath.
“We have two cruise missile hits on Uman; a residential building and a warehouse building,” Cherkasy Governor Ihor Taburets wrote on the Telegram messaging app. “We are finding out the consequences.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram that this “Russian terror must face a fair response from Ukraine and the world”.
It was not clear what Russia was targeting, although it has regularly struck civilian infrastructure, particularly energy facilities throughout the winter.
Beginning late last year, Russia launched such attacks roughly weekly, though they had tapered off as winter ended, with Western countries saying Moscow had used up much of its long-range missile arsenal in a failed bid to freeze Ukrainian cities.
Moscow says it does not deliberately target civilians, but its assaults have killed thousands of people and devastated cities and towns across Ukraine.
Kyiv says attacks on cities far from the front lines have no military purpose apart from intimidating and harming civilians, a war crime.
There were no immediate reports on the damage or any casualties in Kyiv, with city officials saying air defence systems had destroyed at least 11 cruise missiles and two drones.
“Woke up to explosions,” a Kyiv resident told Al Jazeera via text message. “It felt like an earthquake.”
Blasts were also heard in Kremenchuk and Poltava in central Ukraine, as well as Mykolaiv in the south, according to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency and social media channels.
The wave of raids comes as Moscow’s forces continue to battle for control of the ruined city of Bakhmut, and as Kyiv prepares to retake territory in the country’s east and south.
“It [also] comes as we continue to get increasing demands from Ukrainian officials for better air defence” from its Western allies, said Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Kyiv.
The raids also follow a landmark phone call between Zelenskyy and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first between the two leaders since Moscow began its full-scale invasion in February 2022.
China is trying to position itself as a peacemaker between the two countries.
“China always stands on the side of peace and China’s core position is to promote peace via talks,” the state-run Global Times quoted Xi as saying during the call.
China unveiled its 12-point peace plan on Ukraine – calling for de-escalation and an eventual ceasefire – on the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
With inputs from Sasha Petrova