According to media and officials, Russia targeted cities across Ukraine early Friday, from the capital, Kyiv, to the center and southern regions, killing at least five people.
The strikes come as Ukrainian forces prepare to begin an offensive with new military weaponry from Western partners, including tanks, after Russian forces made little progress in a winter onslaught.
In the central town of Uman, three people were killed and eight wounded when a missile hit an apartment building, setting it ablaze, said Ihor Taburets, head of the military administration in the area.
In the central city of Dnipro a missile struck a house and a child and a young woman were killed, Borys Filatov, mayor of , said on Telegram. Three people were wounded in the strike.
Kyiv was also rocked by explosions and air raid sirens and explosions were reported across the country. Two people were wounded in the town of Ukrayinka in the Kyiv region.
The capital’s military administration said anti-aircraft units have destroyed 11 missiles and two drones, with debris damaging a power line.
Interfax said explosions were also reported after midnight in Dnipro, Kremenchuk and Poltava in central Ukraine and in Mykolaiv in the south.
Russian forces have suffered setbacks throughout the conflict and have been trying for 10 months to punch their way into the shattered remains of Bakhmut, once a city of 70,000.
Russia sees Bakhmut as a key steppingstone to other cities in eastern Ukraine, now its major military objective.
Russia’s attacks on Friday came a day after the Kremlin said it would welcome anything that could bring the end of the conflict closer, referring to a telephone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday.
It was the first time the leaders had spoken since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year.
But the Kremlin said it still needed to achieve the aims of its “special military operation” in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, saying it was necessary to protect Russia.
Ukraine and its Western allies rejected that, saying the invasion was an unprovoked land grab by Putin, which has brought the biggest land war in Europe since World War Two.