Ukrainian soldiers prepare ammunition at front-line positions. Photo / AP
Russian missiles have struck either weapons fuel plants or ammunition dumps, causing multiple explosions, which has dealt a blow to Ukrainian plans for a retaliatory strike.
Moscow launched a significant wave of missile attacks on targets across Ukraine, the second time in four days, in what the Ukrainian military believes could be an attempt to disrupt the much-anticipated spring offensive.
Ukraine’s commander-in-chief Valery Zaluzny said bombers from the Arctic and the Caspian Sea launched 18 rockets and Ukraine’s air defense shot down 15 of them.
One of the rockets appears to have targeted a major chemical plant or ammunition dump as videos from the city of Pavlodar in the Middle Dnipro region released by Russian and Ukrainian media show multiple explosions and flashes of light on the horizon. is visible.
The size of the explosion suggests Russia may have struck a key weapons depot to hamper Kiev’s preparations as it aims to reclaim lost territory.
It was not immediately clear what was at the site of the explosion but Ukrainian media reported in 2020 that Pavlodar had a major chemical plant where large amounts of solid rocket fuel were stored.
In the nearby countryside, at least 34 people, including five children, were injured, 24 blocks of flats and 80 private houses were damaged, according to the Ministry of Emergency Services.
Distraught villagers were seen walking around their damaged or destroyed homes.
On Monday, the Russian military denied attacking civilians and insisted the strikes had focused on military targets.
“All designated sites have been targeted,” the Defense Ministry said.
“We have disrupted the work of factories producing ammunition, armaments and equipment for the Ukrainian army.”
In a Russian region bordering Ukraine, a train carrying fuel and construction materials derailed after someone planted a bomb on the tracks.
In a video filmed by residents, a locomotive and several railcars could be seen lying on the side of the tracks, with one of the freight cars bursting into flames.
The derailment appears to be one of the few major acts of sabotage on Russian infrastructure since the start of the invasion.
On Monday, the governor of the Bryansk region, Alexander Bogomaz, said an explosive device detonated at the 136th kilometer of the railway between Bryansk and Unecha, about 70 km from the border with Ukraine.
Russian Railways, the country’s rail operator, said seven freight cars were derailed and a locomotive was set on fire.
Two Russian media outlets linked to security agencies said authorities were searching for two male suspects who were seen on CCTV nearby.
According to Bogomaz, traffic on that section of the railway has been suspended. The country’s officials said the disruption was so severe that trains bound for the Belarusian city of Homil in the southwest were also cut off.
Earlier on Monday, power poles were blown up in northwestern Russia outside St. Petersburg in what the FSB security service described as an act of sabotage.
Retaliation ‘will go a long way’
Meanwhile, a top Ukrainian general used a social media post to claim that his forces had driven out Russian troops from some positions around the strategic city of Bakhmut.
On Monday, the commander of Ukrainian ground forces, Colonel General Oleksandr Sirsky, described the situation around Bakhmut as “difficult” but said his troops had launched a counterattack from “some parts of the city” and pushed the Russians out.
There were no independent reports to corroborate the claims.
Later on Monday, Ukraine’s defense minister said the country’s military was well prepared for a retaliatory strike.
“We are at the finish line when we can say: ‘Yes, everything is ready’,” said Oleksiy Reznikov.
“I’m not just hoping [a counter-offensive]I believe in it.”
He said he is convinced that the Ukrainian government has done enough for the counter-offensive to “go far”.
On Monday, the US State Department reported the death of an American citizen in Ukraine.
A British filmmaker and volunteer said on Sunday that his friend, a 26-year-old former US Marine, had been killed fighting outside Bakhmut.
Cooper Andrews reportedly served in the Foreign Legion of Ukraine.
At least 100 foreign volunteers have died fighting alongside Ukrainian troops since the start of the Russian invasion.