Sirens in Ukraine went off on Monday as Russia launched its second air strike at targets across the country in three days, setting a huge blaze in a southeastern district where officials said 34 people were wounded and dozens of homes damaged overnight.
Ukraine said 15 of 18 cruise missiles were successfully shot down, shielding the capital Kyiv and other major cities where air raid sirens resounded. The only reports of widespread damage were in Pavlohrad, a railway hub behind the southern and eastern fronts.
A Russian-installed official in the occupied Zaporizhzhia region, posting images from Pavlohrad of the huge blaze, said Russian forces had struck military targets there.
Ukrainian officials also released images of a scorched wasteland and said an industrial enterprise was hit, which they did not identify. Mykola Lukashuk, head of the Dnipropetrovsk region council, said the attack had damaged 19 apartment blocks, 25 houses, three schools, three kindergartens and several shops.
The 34 wounded included three children, he said.
The attacks came just three days after Russia killed 23 civilians with a missile that hit a high-rise apartment building in the city of Uman, part of its first big countrywide volley of air strikes in nearly two months.
Tragic night and morning for the Dnipropetrovsk region.
The enemy attacked with missiles. 7 of them were shot down by the air command "East." However, there were also hits. Pavlohrad district was affected.
Preliminary reports indicate that 25 people were injured, including… pic.twitter.com/Nbnp8ULuJj
— Maria Drutska 🇺🇦 (@maria_drutska) May 1, 2023
Russia appears to have returned to its winter tactic of major countrywide air strikes as Ukraine prepares to launch a counteroffensive to retake occupied land in the south and east.
“Around 2:30 am (1130 GMT), the Russian invaders attacked Ukraine from strategic aviation planes,” Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said.
The city administration for Kyiv said no civilian casualties or damage were reported from the overnight air strikes in the capital.
After five months of a Russian assault that secured little new territory despite the bloodiest ground combat of the war, Kyiv is preparing to unleash its counterattack using hundreds of armored vehicles and tanks supplied by the West.
Explosiins on the Russian side of the border
An explosion in a Russian region bordering Ukraine derailed a freight train on Monday, the local governor said in a social media post, adding there were no casualties.
Pictures shared on social media showed several tank carriages laying on their side and dark grey smoke billowing into the air at the site of the derailment in the Bryansk region.
Russian Railways, the country’s rail operator, said the incident occurred at 10:17 Moscow time (0717 GMT). It said the locomotive and seven freight wagons were derailed and the locomotive caught fire.
“An unidentified explosive device went off at the 136-kilometer mark on the Bryansk-Unecha railway line, derailing a freight train,” Bryansk Governor Alexander Bogomaz said in a post on his Telegram channel.
This train carrying oil products and construction material derailed in Bryansk Oblast, Russia. 7-8 cars have been compromised. It is said that an explosive device on the railway track was used. #Bryansk #Russia pic.twitter.com/oy2SYLj9ff
— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) May 1, 2023
Russian authorities say the region – which borders both Ukraine and Belarus – has seen multiple attacks by pro-Ukrainian sabotage groups in the 14 months since Russia invaded. On Saturday, the governor said four civilians died after Kyiv shelled a village just across the border.
The site of the incident, as indicated by the governor, is around 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Russia’s border with Ukraine.
He did not say who was responsible for the attack.
Separately, the governor of Russia’s Leningrad region near St. Petersburg said a power line had been blown up overnight and an explosive device found near a second line.
Governor Alexander Drozdenko posted photos of destroyed power lines and metal supports on his Telegram page on Monday morning. He said Russia’s FSB federal security service was working on the site and did not say who he believed was responsible for the incident.