Russian strikes have killed at least eight people in eastern Ukraine in 24 hours and the death toll at an apartment complex hit by Russian rockets has also risen, local officials said on Monday, a chilling reminder of the devastation Russia has inflicted on civilians, even as its military halts its campaign to seize Ukrainian territory.
As the Russian military regroups and resupplies, its attacks on civilian targets and morale have intensified in recent days. In town after town in eastern Ukraine, a hail of seemingly random Russian strikes, launched by warplanes, artillery and missiles, have killed, maimed and terrified residents.
Attacks have intensified in particular in Donetsk, an eastern province increasingly in Moscow’s sights after Russian forces seized the last major city in neighboring Lugansk province this month.
In the eastern Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar, emergency teams were still finding bodies from a single attack over the weekend on Monday. A missile strike hit an apartment complex on Saturday evening, and the death toll rose to 30 people killed, the The Ukrainian State Emergency Service said. So far, nine people have been pulled from the rubble and rescued, he added.
In the eastern province of Donetsk, which includes Chasiv Yar, at least 10 towns and villages have been affected, bringing the death toll in the province to nearly 600 since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, governor says regional soldier, Pavlo Kyrylenko.
Russian forces took advantage of a lull in their ground offensive to help recover, following President Vladimir V. Putin’s order last week that some troops rest after taking Lugansk province, it said on Monday. military analysts. But behind the front lines, the rain of devastation continues and many locals expect it to be just another opening to a new all-out assault.
Ukrainian and Western analysts expect Mr Putin to order a new offensive to conquer the remaining Ukrainian territory in Donetsk, anchored by the cities of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Bakhmut – if not more.
And on Monday, Russia signaled that it may seek to establish permanent control over Ukrainian territories currently occupied by Moscow forces: Mr. Putin signed a decree that offered a simplified path to Russian citizenship for all Ukrainians.
About nine miles from Chasiv Yar in the town of Bakhmut, officials said Russian troops on Sunday fired incendiary munitions, limited by international law and designed to start fires or cause burns, into a neighborhood. Bakhmut, an important military stronghold for Ukraine, is less than 10 miles from Russian lines and a likely target for its planned advance through the eastern Donbass region.
Neighbors in shorts and sandals frantically fired garden hoses at a burning house. They threw buckets of water at the flames as the rafters and tiled roof of a house cracked and shattered. “I worked 20 years in the mines and this is what I get,” said Viktor, 67, a retired miner who watched and cried.
Russia also launched attacks in the northeast.
In the north, at around 3.40 a.m. on Monday, a Russian missile destroyed a school building in Slobidske district in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, although no one was injured, Oleh Synehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional administration, says on the messaging app Telegram. He said a six-story building in the city was hit 20 minutes later. Rescuers rescued an 86-year-old woman from the rubble.
“Only civilian structures – a shopping mall and houses of peaceful residents of Kharkiv – came under fire from the Russians,” Synehubov said.
Military analysts said the recent attacks appeared to differ from Russia’s earlier tactics in the war, such as its failed blitzkrieg on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and then its week-long concentrated bombardment of key regional cities. The latest attacks hit a variety of targets without a corresponding attempt to advance inch by inch.