Russian forces have fired another rash of missiles and self-exploding drones at several parts of Ukraine.
They caused the first attack-related death of the year in Kyiv even though air defences shot down many of the incoming projectiles.
And Oleksandr Khorunshyi, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service spokesman, said in comments on television on Thursday that 11 people have been killed in strikes on 11 regions.
The attacks adhered to Russia’s recent pattern of launching widespread strikes about every two weeks.
But the wave of weapons also came a day after Germany and the United States upped the ante in Russia’s 11-month war by promising to send high-tech battle tanks to Ukraine and allowing other allies to do the same.
The illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is continuing.
The map below is the latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 26 January 2023.
Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/K4dX7z5dyC
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/t3Esl8czv6Advertisement
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) January 26, 2023
Germany’s defence minister said on Thursday its tanks could arrive in Ukraine within about two months.
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said one person was killed by falling rocket debris, the capital’s first such death since New Year’s Eve.
Two others were hurt, the former professional boxer said.
The head of the Kyiv city administration, Serhii Popko, said Ukrainian air defences shot down 15 cruise missiles heading to the area.
Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, said Thursday’s volley involved 55 missiles, of which 47 were intercepted.
Self-exploding drones swept in overnight before the missile strikes, in what a spokesman for Ukraine’s Southern Defence Forces said appeared to be a Russian attempt to overwhelm or distract Ukraine’s air defences.
As air raid sirens echoed across the country, civilians, some pulling dogs on leads, poured into subway stations, underground car parks and basements to seek shelter.
It was the first such barrage of Russian firepower across the country since January 14.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 26 January 2023
Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/BSk9mPZcWF
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/nfcCV7CXk6
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) January 26, 2023
Russia has carried out massive strikes on power stations and other infrastructure since early October, part of a strategy to try to hamper Ukrainian forces and put civilians in the cold and dark this winter, before what many experts predict could be a springtime offensive as more conscripts reach the battlefields.
Ukrainian energy minister Herman Halushchenko said energy facilities were targeted again on Thursday by Russian forces “trying to cause a systemic failure in the energy system of Ukraine”.
He said some energy facilities have been hit, resulting in emergency outages, and repair teams were working to restore power supply as quickly as possible.
The regional prosecutor’s office in Zaporizhzhia said three people were killed and seven hurt in a strike on an energy facility in the region.
Maksym Marchenko, the governor of southern Ukraine’s Odesa region, said energy infrastructure facilities were damaged in his and several other regions, causing “significant problems with electricity supply”.
The regional administration in the nearby Kherson region, where Ukrainian troops recaptured the regional capital in November, said Russian shelling has killed two people and hurt five over the past day.
The attacks came a day after Germany said it will supply 14 Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine and authorise other European countries to send up to 88 more.
The US said it plans to ship 31 Abrams M1 tanks to Ukrainian forces.
Along with Germany and the US, Britain, Poland, the Netherlands and Sweden are among the nations that have sent or announced plans to supply hundreds of tanks and heavy armoured vehicles to fortify Ukraine as it enters a new phase of the war and tries to break through entrenched Russian lines.
The conflict has largely been a stalemate in recent months, though Ukrainian forces acknowledged on Wednesday a retreat from the salt-mining town of Soledar in Donetsk province, a battle-scarred area of eastern Ukraine that has been embroiled in war since Russia-backed separatists seized large swaths of the broader Donbas region in 2014.
Gian Gentile, a US army veteran and senior historian with the Rand think tank, said the M1 Abrams and the Leopards will give Ukraine a “mechanised armoured punching force”.
German defence minister Boris Pistorius said Ukrainian crews will start their training in Germany in the coming days on German-made Marders, which are infantry fighting vehicles, with training on the heavier Leopard 2s to start “a little later”.
“In any case, the aim with the Leopards is to have the first company in Ukraine by the end of March, beginning of April,” he said.
“I can’t say the precise day.”
In an interview with Britain’s Sky News on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he did not know when the tanks from the US and Europe will arrive.
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, also speaking to the network, declined to speculate on the timing but said “allies are extremely focused on the importance of speed”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the move to provide Ukraine with modern western tanks reflects the West’s growing involvement in the conflict.
“Both European capitals and Washington keep saying that the delivery of various kinds of weapons systems, including tanks, to Ukraine, absolutely does not mean the involvement of these countries or the alliance in the hostilities ongoing in Ukraine,” he told reporters.
“We categorically disagree with that.
“Moscow views everything that has been done by the alliance and the capitals I have mentioned as direct involvement in the conflict.
“We can see it growing.”