Russia has carried out drone, missile, and air strikes on several Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, in the run-up to its Victory Day holiday. The strikes, which Ukraine says were destroyed by its air defenses, were part of one of the largest volleys of missiles and drones yet in a renewed Russian air campaign that began 10 days ago after a lull since early March.
Kyiv’s mayor reported at least five people wounded amid damage to buildings, a fuel depot, cars, and infrastructure. The military said that 16 rockets had hit the Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odesa regions in the last 24 hours, in addition to 61 strikes and 52 rocket salvos on Ukrainian positions and populated areas.
Ukraine accused Moscow of making a final push to try to capture the ruined eastern city of Bakhmut, delivering President Vladimir Putin what would be his only prize for a costly Russian winter offensive in time for the holiday. Ukraine, which proclaimed May 8 to be Victory Day rather than May 9, recalled the heroism of millions of Ukrainians in that war against Nazism. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that all the old evil that modern Russia is bringing back will be defeated, just as Nazism was defeated.
Russia has cancelled or curtailed some of the huge military parades that normally accompany Victory Day. Western countries say this is partly out of security concerns and partly because Moscow has lost so much military hardware in a largely failed winter offensive in Ukraine, which has seen the most intense ground combat in Europe since World War Two.
Ukraine, which drove Russian forces back from the ramparts of the capital and recovered substantial territory last year, has kept its troops on the defensive for the past six months, but is preparing a massive counteroffensive in the coming weeks. The country has been in a state of heightened alert since Russia amassed troops along its border earlier this year.
Russia’s costly winter campaign captured almost no ground, apart from around Bakhmut, where its forces have been led by Wagner, a private army that recruited thousands of convicts from prison. Wagner’s boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, announced last week that he would pull out of Bakhmut on May 10, denouncing Russian commanders for failing to give his fighters enough ammunition. He appeared to reverse himself on Sunday, saying he had now been promised the weapons he needs.
In Kyiv, three people were injured in blasts, and numerous explosions could be heard throughout the night. Flames engulfed a large food warehouse in Odesa, and there were reports of shelling in other cities.
The international community has condemned Russia’s actions, with many calling for an immediate end to the hostilities. The United States, European Union, and NATO have all voiced support for Ukraine, with the U.S. calling on Russia to cease its aggression and engage in diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict.
As tensions continue to rise between Russia and Ukraine, the situation remains highly volatile, with the potential for further escalation and violence. The world watches and waits for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.