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Kyiv: The death toll from the Russian attack on a building in Dnipro, eastern Ukraine, on Saturday has risen to 20 people, the head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration, Valentyn Reznichenko, announced on Sunday.
“Twenty innocent victims”, complained Mr Reznichenko on Telegram, mentioning that 73 people had been injured. “Relief operations are continuing. The fate of more than 40 people is still unknown,” he added.
Ukraine reported a new barrage of Russian missiles and civilian deaths on Saturday. Great Britain was the first western country to offer the heavy tanks it had been asking for for so long.
The British move prompted a swift reaction from Moscow, which warned it would only “escalate” the conflict.
Moldova, meanwhile, said debris from the latest Russian missile had landed on its territory and condemned the attack.
Ukraine also insisted on Saturday that fighting for Soledar was continuing, a day after Russia claimed it had captured the ravaged eastern city after a long battle.
Victory in this city would be a rare feat for Moscow after a series of military setbacks.
Ukrainian officials condemned the latest wave of deadly Russian missile attacks on the country on New Year’s Day, a popular holiday in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s presidential aide, Mykhaylo Podolyak, called for Russia’s expulsion from the UN Security Council.
Britain sends tanks to Ukraine
Earlier on Saturday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to supply Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. Thus, Great Britain was the first western country to provide heavy tanks kyiv shouted.
The Russian Embassy in the UK quickly issued a warning that “the entry of tanks into the conflict zone, far from ending hostilities, will only increase combat operations, causing more casualties, including among the civilian population”.
But in his speech late on Saturday, Zelensky argued that Russia’s “terror” could only be stopped on the battlefield.
“It can and must be done on our land, in our skies, in our seas,” he said.
Moldova, Ukraine’s southwest neighbor, said on Saturday it had found missile debris on its territory following Russia’s latest strike.
“Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine has once again had a direct impact on Moldova,” President Maia Sandu tweeted, posting a photo of the ruins.
“We strongly condemn today’s escalation of attacks.”
Infrastructure is being targeted
Ukrainian energy operator Ukrenergo said it was working to “eliminate the consequences” of Russia’s latest attack.
In Kyiv, AFP journalists heard several explosions, while Ukrainian officials reported attacks on electrical installations.
“There was an attack on infrastructure facilities, without critical destruction or fire,” the Kyiv city government said.
In the Kharkiv region (northeast), “the enemy launched new missile attacks on critical infrastructure and industrial facilities,” said Governor Oleg Synegubov.
Emergency power outages have been imposed in “most areas” of Ukraine due to the new attacks, German Energy Minister Galushchenko said on Saturday.
Attacks were also reported in the Zaporizhzhia region in the south of the country.
Zelensky said Ukraine managed to shoot down 20 of the more than 30 Russian missiles it fired.
“Unfortunately, energy infrastructure facilities have also been affected,” he added, with Kharkiv and Kyiv regions being the hardest hit.
Soledar’s defenders held firm
The fate of Soledar remains uncertain, a salt mining outpost that Russia claims has captured, despite Ukrainian denials.
Both sides suffered heavy casualties in the battle for the city.
The Ukrainian military governor in the besieged eastern region of Donetsk insisted on Saturday that “Solesar is controlled by the Ukrainian authorities, our military is in control of it.”
“The fighting continues inside and outside the city”, he added.
He was responding to claims by Russia’s Defense Ministry, which said on Friday it had “completed the release” of Soledar the day before.
The industrial city, which had a population of around 10,000 before the war, was reduced to rubble by the heavy fighting.
Capturing Soledar could improve the position of the Russian troops towards what has been their main objective since October, the nearest transport hub from Bakhmut.
Turkey said on Saturday it was ready to promote a local ceasefire in Ukraine and warned that neither Moscow nor Kyiv had the military means to “win the war”.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign policy adviser Ibrahim Kalin acknowledged it seemed unlikely the warring sides would be ready to reach a “comprehensive peace agreement” in the coming months.