The strikes appear to be part of a larger pattern in which Russia has launched attacks in seemingly calm parts of Ukraine, disrupting lives and infuriating Ukrainians. Videos of the strikes appear to support Ukrainian claims, a senior US defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with ground rules set by the Pentagon.
“I saw the same videos that you all saw,” the official told reporters. “I didn’t see anything there that looked like anything close to the military. It looked like an apartment building.
Russian strikes in Vinnytsia leave horrific civilian toll
The rise in the civilian death toll has come as Russian and Ukrainian forces remain locked in close combat in eastern Ukraine, with territory generally changing hands little at a time and at a cost. high for both parties.
Asked if the war, which is nearing its five-month mark, had reached a stalemate, the senior US defense official said it was too early to tell.
The official noted that Ukrainian troops continue to repel Russian attempts to gain ground around the northeastern city of Kharkiv, and that if Russian commanders want to move to the city of Sloviansk, is, they have “not been able to do so”.
Two Mykolaiv universities hit by Russian missile fire
Ukraine uses sophisticated multiple rocket launcher systems, including the US-supplied M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, to attack Russian equipment behind front lines.
“They … hit targets like munitions supplies, other logistical supplies, command and control,” the senior US defense official said. “All of these things have a direct impact on the ability to affect frontline operations.”
Ukrainian forces also began efforts to retake areas in the southern part of the country that had been seized by Russia. In the Kherson region, 44 settlements were recovered in the counter-offensive, the acting head of the military administration of the region of Ukraine said on Thursday.
Most of the region, which Russian forces captured at the start of the war, remains occupied, the official, Dmytro Burtiy, said in an interview with Ukraine Media Center. But Russia has been pivoting the focus of its invasion to the northeast in recent months, giving Ukraine an opening to retake some territory. The counter-offensive provoked a new round of fighting in the villages of the region.
“They are going through a very difficult time because the Russian occupier is constantly bombing these localities, there is widespread destruction, ruins, infrastructure is destroyed, kindergartens, residential buildings,” Burtiy said.
The senior US defense official said the latest intelligence from Washington did not provide information on what those settlements looked like.
“I know,” he said, “that the Ukrainians have made small gains in pockets of the south.”
Claire Parker contributed to this report.