- By Hugo Bachiga in Kiev and Antoinette Radford in London
- BBC News
Russia fired a series of missiles at Ukrainian cities in its second pre-dawn attack in three days.
Pavlohrad, a logistics hub near the central city of Dnipro, has been hit by a long-awaited counterattack by Ukraine.
The raid caused a major fire, destroying dozens of homes, and injuring 34 people.
Hours later, an air raid alert sounded across the country, with the capital Kiev among the targets.
Across the country, the Ukrainian military said it shot down 15 of the 18 cruise missiles launched.
The greatest damage occurred in Pavlohrad, a city in Ukrainian territory about 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the front line. Pictures posted on social media showed a huge fire.
Olha Litvinenko, a resident, said she was getting dressed to leave her home when “both doors were shattered by the blast wave.”
“I ran outside and saw that the garage was destroyed. Everything was on fire, shards of glass everywhere. If we were outside, we would have been killed,” she said.
Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk military administration described it as a “tragic night and morning”, saying that an industrial site had been bombed.
It added that 19 high-rise residential buildings, 25 private homes, six schools, kindergartens and five shops were also damaged.
The strike targeted railway infrastructure and fuel depots, Vladimir Rogov, the Russian official, said in a message on Telegram with a thumbs-up gesture.
At approximately 04:00 local time (02:00 GMT), the air raid alert went off in Kiev and lasted about three hours.
The military administration said that all missiles and drones aimed at the capital were destroyed.
In the Kherson region – which Russia still partially controls – Ukrainian regional authorities said Russia fired 39 shells.
They came with ground weapons, drones and planes, the authorities said, adding that one person was killed.
Ukraine says it is finalizing plans for a long-delayed offensive against Russian forces, backed by Western-supplied weapons and military equipment.
Meanwhile, Russia is also preparing for a Ukrainian push, and has fortified its positions in the occupied territories.
In the latest shake-up in the country’s military leadership, General Mikhail Mezintsev — Russia’s deputy defense minister who oversaw logistics for the armed forces — was sacked after being appointed to the post just last September.
There have long been complaints that front line troops are not getting enough military equipment, and are experiencing shortages of food and uniforms.
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian official said on Monday that the military has expelled Russian forces from some positions in Bakhmut, the eastern city that has been under siege for months.
The situation remains “very difficult” – but “the enemy is not able to take the city,” Gen. Oleksandr Sersky, commander of the ground forces, said on Telegram.
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