Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy has denounced Russia’s military for launching the largest wave of missiles and exploding drones on his territory in almost a month.
In his evening video message, Zelenskky said the massive pre-dawn airstrikesearlier on Thursday were “another attempt by the terrorist state to wage war against civilization.”
Ukraine said at least nine civilians were killed during the onslaught, which included missiles fired at Kyiv, and power was knocked out in several areas of the country.
Those killed were villagers in the western Lviv region, closer to the frontline in the central Dnieper region, and the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian officials said.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which Russian forces took control of a year ago, was left depending on backup generators for several hours.
Ukraine’s military said the country’s air defenses had shot down many drones and missiles during the pre-dawn wave of attacks on Thursday.
Kyiv said Russia had also fired six Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missiles, which it had no way to stop.
Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians during its 12-month-long invasion. The Russian Defense Ministry said it had carried out a “massive retaliatory strike” as payback for a cross-border raid last week.
The Russian ministry claimed to have destroyed Ukrainian drone bases, disrupted railways and damaged facilities that make and repair arms.
Moscow also confirmed it had used Kinzhal — Russian for dagger — missiles in Thursday’s attack.
The White House said the missile barrage was “devastating” to see and Washington would continue to provide Ukraine with air defense capabilities.
Here are some of the other notable developments concerning the war on Friday, March 10:
UK intelligence briefing details latest Russian onslaught
Britain’s Defense Ministry said the latest Russian air attacks had included at least 80 long-range missiles, which targeted critical Ukrainian infrastructure.
It said the blitz was likely one of the largest since December and the first major wave of long-range strikes since February 16.
The Ministry posited that the interval between the waves of strikes was likely due to the need to stockpile newly produced weapons before it has the resources to launch a big enough strike to “credibly overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses.”
Kyiv: 100 Russian attacks on Bakhmut repelled
Ukraine’s military said it warded off 102 Russian attacks on the eastern mining town of Bakhmut over the past 24 hours.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia’s Wagner private army which has led the fighting in the town, said Wednesday his forces controlled all of the city east of a river through it.
It is not possible to independently verify the battlefield reports.
Bakhmut has been the focus of months of fierce combat and both sides have sustained heavy losses in the battle for the town.
Moscow says Bakhmut’s capture will help its forces secure the surrounding Donbas region, a major war aim.
NATO has warned that Bakhmut could fall to Russia “in the coming days” but said it would “not necessarily reflect any turning point in the war.”
Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said Ukrainian defenders had foiled Russian attempts to completely surround Bakhmut from the west.
The frontline to the south had held for several days, but the Russians had made some headway in villages to the north.
An aide to Zelenskyy told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper that Ukraine has decided to fight on in the ruined city because the battle there is
pinning down Russia’s best units.
“We have two objectives: to reduce their capable personnel as much as possible, and to fix them in a few key wearisome battles, to disrupt their offensive and concentrate our resources elsewhere, for the spring counter-offensive,” said Mykhailo Podolyak. “So, today Bakhmut is completely effective, even exceeding its key tasks.”
Think tank: Wagner forces taking ‘tactical pause’ in Bakhmut
In its latest update, the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Russia’s Wagner forces maybe be conducting a temporary tactical pause in eastern Bakhmut to “wait for Russian reinforcements and replenish themselves.”
ISW said the private Russian army has been “conducting highly attritional frontal assaults on eastern Bakhmut for nine months and are likely not prepared to conduct a crossing of the Bakhmutka River to the Bakhmut city center at this time.”
It added that the offensive had “likely consumed a significant amount of Wagner personnel and resources” over the past nine months.
The think tank said it was unclear if Wagner fighters will retain their “operational preponderance” going forward.
“The arrival of an increased number of conventional Russian forces to the area may suggest that Russian forces intend to offset the possible culmination of Wagner’s offensive operations in Bakhmut with new conventional troops,” the ISW update added.
In its morning update Friday, the Ukrainian general staff reported a large number of attacks along the front and said “the enemy is
not halting its attacks on Bakhmut.”
Pope: Ukraine war fought not over just Russia’s imperial interests
Pope Francis on Friday spoke of his readiness to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin in an attempt to help achieve peace in Ukraine.
Asked by the Italian Swiss television channel RSI what he would say to Putin, Francis said: “I would speak to him clearly as I speak in public. He is a cultured man.”
“On the second day of the war, I was at the Russian Embassy to the Holy See to say that I was willing to go to Moscow on condition that Putin would give me a window to negotiate,” the pope added. “[Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov wrote to me saying ‘Thank you but it’s not the time.’ Putin knows I’m available.”
Francis added that the conflict was fuelled by “imperial interests, not just of the Russian empire, but of empires from elsewhere.”
He said it was the work of empires “to put other nations in second place.”
His full interview will air Sunday but extracts were published Friday by Italian newspapers.
Moscow: Russia, US remain in contact over New START nuclear deal
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Friday said Russia and the United States remained in contact over the New START nuclear arms treaty, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
His comments come despite Moscow having suspended its participation in the deal.
Ryabkov said he had no expectations for significant progress from contact between Moscow and Washington.
The 2010 agreement limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads each side can deploy.
President Vladimir Putin announced last month that Moscow was suspending it, accusing the United States of trying to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia in Ukraine.
mm/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
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