...By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
At least nine people, including a mother and her three-year-old daughter, were killed as Russia launched missile strikes against cities across Ukraine.
In a series of attacks, Vladimir Putin’s forces fired over 20 cruise missiles and two drones at the capital Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine on Friday, authorities reported.
Seven people died in the central city of Uman, while 17 people lost their lives in missile strikes on residential buildings.
There were also explosions in the cities of Kremenchuk and Poltava, with the death toll feared to rise as images showed rescuers searching for survivors in the rubble of a nine-storey building that was hit.
A 31-year-old woman and her three-year-old daughter were killed in the city of Dnipro, according to the local mayor.
Air raid sirens sounded around Kyiv, in the first attack against the city in almost two months.
Fragments from intercepted missiles or drones damaged power lines and a road in one neighbourhood in the capital, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties or direct hits.
Officials said that out of 23 missiles and two attack drones shot across the country, Ukraine’s air defence system shot down 21 missiles and two drones.
The attack comes as Ukrainian forces are preparing for a military offensive with new equipment, including tanks, supplied by Western allies.
Nato has announced that its allies and partner countries have delivered more than 98% of the combat vehicles promised to Ukraine to launch its offensive.
Along with over 1,550 armoured vehicles, 230 tanks and other equipment, “vast amounts of ammunition” and trained and equipped more than nine new Ukrainian brigades, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
Stoltenberg estimates that more than 30,000 troops make up the new brigades.
He said, “This will put Ukraine in a strong position to continue to retake occupied territory”.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack on Telegram, writing: “This Russian terror must face a fair response from Ukraine and the world.
And it will”.
He added, “Every such attack, every evil act against our country and people brings the terrorist state closer to failure and punishment, not vice versa, as they think.
We will not forget any crime, we will not let any invader avoid responsibility”.
The missile strikes and subsequent loss of life indicate a further escalation in hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, with tensions having risen in recent weeks.
In response to the recent deployment of Russian troops to its border with Ukraine, the Ukrainian military has increased its own presence in the area, and NATO has issued statements of support for Ukraine.
The involvement of Western allies in supplying military equipment and training to the Ukrainian military may further escalate the situation, as Russia views this as a direct threat to its interests.
The situation in the region is highly volatile, with the potential for a further escalation in violence and a widening of the conflict.