Rescuers were active at dawn on Thursday to try to find survivors in the rubble of an apartment building in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, destroyed by a Russian strike that left at least two dead. , when kyiv says it expects a major offensive from Moscow for the first anniversary of the invasion.
The strike took place at around 9:45 p.m. (7:45 p.m. GMT) on Wednesday against eight buildings in central Kramatorsk, one of which completely collapsed, Donetsk police said on their Facebook account. About 100 police were deployed to search the rubble.
Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said the attack left two people dead and 21 injured, eight of whom were hospitalized and two are in critical condition. Mr. Kyrylenko has revised downwards an initial toll which reported three deaths. Two people were still stuck Thursday at dawn in the ruins of the building, he said.
Russia celebrates Thursday the 80th anniversary of the Soviet victory in the Battle of Stalingrad, a turning point in World War II and a symbol of patriotism. This celebration takes on added symbolic significance as we approach the first anniversary of the outbreak of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Russian forces recently scored their first success in months by taking Soledar, a town in eastern Ukraine. And many observers believe that Moscow is preparing a new major offensive around February 24.
"We also need to be ready as soon as possible, and that's why we need weapons, to contain the enemy," insisted Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiï Reznikov, invited Wednesday evening on the French channel BFMTV.
"We do not underestimate our enemy. We see that he is preparing very seriously for the offensive," continued Mr. Reznikov. “We think that since they live in symbolism, they will try to try something around February 24,” he continued. According to him, "they can attempt a two-axis offensive", in Dombass and the south.
After a series of humiliating setbacks in the fall, Russia mobilized hundreds of thousands of reservists. Associated with the paramilitary group Wagner, the Russian army has also intensified the fighting, in particular to take Bakhmout, a city in the East that it has been pounding since the summer.
Further south, Russia also undertook an offensive on Vougledar. "The more time passes, the worse the situation gets," Oleksandre, 45, a Ukrainian soldier who fires a mortar from his post set up five kilometers from this city, told AFP.
Faced with this threat, Ukraine is engaged in a race against time to obtain more powerful armaments. In particular, it wants high-precision missiles with a range of more than 100 kilometers to destroy Russian supply lines in order to overcome its shortfall in manpower and armament.
So far, the West has refused to deliver these systems and combat aircraft, for fear of an escalation with Russia. US President Joe Biden, however, said Tuesday that he would discuss it with his Ukrainian counterpart.
A US defense company said on Wednesday it wanted to supply two sophisticated combat drones to Ukraine for just a token dollar, subject to US government approval. And Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has declared himself ready to send F-16 type fighter planes in the event of a consensus on the subject within NATO.
Already, after long procrastination, Europeans and Americans have given the green light to deliveries of modern heavy tanks, even if their number is still below what Ukraine demands.
While kyiv is due to host a summit with the European Union on Friday, the Ukrainian authorities launched a vast anti-corruption operation on Wednesday targeting administrations, civil servants and personalities.
“Justice will be done,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his daily internet message, reporting “dozens of searches and other actions in different regions and against different people in criminal proceedings.”
The raids come a week after a series of senior officials were sacked in the wake of a corruption case over army supplies, the first major scandal since the Russian invasion nearly a year ago. .
The EU has made the fight against corruption a condition for Ukraine's accession to the European bloc. And kyiv, whose war effort largely depends on the support of Europe and the United States, is challenged to curb the financial shenanigans so as not to disgust the allies.
02/02/2023 05:59:49 - Kiev (Ukraine) (AFP) © 2023 AFP