Ukraine on Thursday reported a new wave of overnight Russian missile and drone strikes, which killed at least one and damaged many buildings.
The Ukrainian army said it shot down 16 of the 36 missiles Russia launched overnight from planes and ships in the Black Sea.
“Unfortunately, there were hits in the north and west of Ukraine, as well as in the (central regions of) Dnipropetrovsk and Kirovograd,” presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said.
Dnipropetrovsk regional governor Sergiy Lysak posted images on Telegram of firefighters working in the debris of partially destroyed residential homes.
The strikes killed a 79-year-old woman, Lysak said.
In the western region of Lviv, strikes hit a “critical infrastructure facility,” governor Maksym Kozytsky said on Telegram. No casualties were reported.
Since October, Russia has launched regular waves of attacks that have crippled the Ukrainian energy infrastructure and left millions in the cold in the middle of winter.
Some fear that, after months of military setbacks, Moscow may be preparing a new large-scale offensive in late winter or early spring.
Meanwhile, the head of mercenary outfit Wagner has admitted that Russia may take another two months to capture the embattled Ukraine city of Bakhmut, blaming the “monstrous bureaucracy” of the top brass for the slow gains.
The fierce fighting for the eastern industrial city is the longest running battle of Russia’s near year-long intervention.
“I think it’s (going to be in) March or in April,” Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin said in one of several messages posted online overnight.
“To take Bakhmut you have to cut all supply routes. It’s a significant task,” he said.
The 61-year-old, who is close to President Vladimir Putin, said the speed of Russian progress in the grinding battle would depend on whether Ukraine continued to send reserves to hold the city.
Prigozhin’s private fighting force, which has recruited from prisons across Russia to bolster its ranks, has claimed a lead role in recent battles in east Ukraine.
He announced last week that Wagner would no longer be drawing from prisons to fill its ranks and on Thursday said this would impact their fighting potential.
“Of course, at some point the number of units will drop and as a result the number of tasks that we can perform will not be what we want,” he added.
Wagner claims to have captured ground without help from the regular army, spurring friction between Wagner and Russia’s trop brass, which Prigozhin criticised for being mired in “monstrous” red tape.
“Progress is not going as fast as we would like,” he said in one of the messages posted on the Telegram social media platform.
“I think that Bakhmut would have been taken before the New Year, if not for our monstrous military bureaucracy, let’s say, and not for the spokes that are put in the wheels daily,” he added.