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Kyiv: Valentin Reznichenko, head of the Dnepropetrovsk regional military administration, announced on Sunday that the death toll rose to 20 as a result of Russia’s strike on a building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro.
“Twenty innocent victims,” Mr. Reznichenko said on Telegram, saying 73 people had been injured. “The relief operations are ongoing. The fate of more than 40 people remains unknown,” he added.
Ukraine reported a new Russian missile attack and civilian casualties on Saturday. Great Britain is the first western country to offer him the heavy tanks he has long wanted.
The British move drew a swift reaction from Moscow, which Moscow warned would only “escalate” the conflict.
Moldova, on the other hand, said that the remnants of the last Russian missiles fell on its territory and condemned the attacks.
Ukraine insisted fighting continued in Soledar on Saturday, a day after Russia claimed to have captured the devastated eastern city after a long battle.
A victory in this city would be a rare success for Moscow after a series of military failures.
Ukrainian officials have condemned the latest wave of deadly missile strikes by Russia on the country on New Year’s Day, a popular holiday in Ukraine.
Mykhailo Podoliak, assistant to the Ukrainian president, called for Russia’s withdrawal from the UN Security Council.
Great Britain sends tanks to Ukraine
On Saturday morning, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to supply Ukraine with “Challenger 2” tanks. Thus, the UK is the first western country to provide the heavy tanks that Kiev is crying out for.
The Russian embassy in the UK was quick to warn that “the introduction of tanks into the conflict zone, far from stopping hostilities, will only serve to intensify hostilities and cause more casualties, including civilian casualties.”
But in a speech on Saturday evening, Zelensky argued that Russian “terror” can only be stopped on the battlefield.
“It can and must be done on our land, in our skies, in our seas,” he said.
Ukraine’s southwestern neighbor Moldova said on Saturday it had found missile remnants on its territory following the latest Russian strikes.
“Russia’s merciless war against Ukraine is once again directly affecting Moldova,” President Maia Sandu shared photos of the destruction on her Twitter page.
“We strongly condemn the increase in attacks today.”
Infrastructure is targeted
Ukraine’s energy operator Ukrenergo said it was working to “remove the consequences” of the latest Russian strikes.
In Kiev, AFP journalists heard several explosions, while Ukrainian officials said an electrical installation had been struck.
“The infrastructural object was hit, critical destruction and fire did not occur,” Kyiv city administration said.
In the Kharkiv region (north-east), “the enemy launched a new missile attack on critical infrastructure and industrial facilities,” Governor Oleg Synegubov said.
Energy Minister German Galushenko said on Saturday that “most regions” of Ukraine have experienced emergency power cuts due to the new attack.
Attacks were also reported in the Zaporizhzhya region in the south of the country.
Mr. Zelensky said that Ukraine managed to shoot down 20 of the more than 30 missiles fired from Russia.
“Unfortunately, energy infrastructure facilities were also affected,” he added, adding that Kharkiv and Kyiv regions were the most affected.
The Soledar defenders stand firm
Despite Ukraine’s denials, uncertainty remains over the fate of Soledar, a salt-mining outpost that Russia claims it captured.
Both sides suffered heavy losses in the battle for the city.
The Ukrainian military governor of the eastern Donetsk region insisted on Saturday that “Soledar is controlled by the Ukrainian authorities, our army controls it.”
“The fighting continues inside and outside the city,” he added.
He responded to claims by the Russian Defense Ministry, which said on Friday that Soledar had “completed its release the day before”.
The pre-war industrial city of around 10,000 people was left in ruins by intense fighting.
Capturing Soledar could improve Russian forces’ advance toward the nearby transport hub of Bakhmut, a key objective since October.
Turkey said on Saturday it was ready to encourage a local ceasefire in Ukraine, warning that neither Moscow nor Kyiv had the military capabilities to “win the war”.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign policy advisor Ibrahim Kalin admitted that it is unlikely that the warring parties will be ready to sign a “comprehensive peace agreement” in the coming months.