On Thursday, Russia rained missiles across Ukraine. It attacked its largest oil refinery, according to Kyiv. At the same time, the commander of the Wagner mercenary group declared that the long-besieged city of Bakhmut would not surrender for weeks or months.
According to Ukraine's Air Force, Russia launched 36 missiles early in the morning, continuing a pattern of heavy bombardment after Ukrainian battlefield or diplomatic victories.
NATO alliance officials had reviewed preparations for additional military equipment for Kyiv the day before. Britain and Poland's presidents met on Thursday and agreed that support should be increased in the coming weeks.
The Russian missiles activated air-raid sirens and landed throughout Ukraine, including at the Kremenchuk refinery, where the damage was unknown. The Air Force added that roughly 16 aircraft were shot down, a lower number than usual.
Ukraine stated that the barrage comprised three KH-31 and one Oniks anti-ship cruise missile that its air defences could not intercept.
In its evening report, the general staff stated that Russia had shelled over two dozen eastern and southern villages.
Russia kept silent on the missile strikes and shelling, and Reuters could not independently confirm claims from the battlefield.
Authorities in Moldova, whose parliament approved a new pro-Western administration on Thursday, have again discovered missile debris near the Ukraine border.
Belarus, which permitted Russia to utilize its territory to send troops into Ukraine at the beginning of the conflict, stated that it would only fight alongside its ally if attacked.
Russia has expanded ground attacks across southern and eastern Ukraine, bolstered by tens of thousands of reservists. As the first anniversary of its February 24 invasion approaches, a significant new offensive appears to be taking shape.
The battle has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, the destruction of Ukrainian cities, the destabilization of the world economy, and the displacement of millions.
Germany reported that 1,1 million Ukrainians entered in 2022 alone, surpassing the massive influx of migrants in 2015-16.
Russia's current focus is on the little city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, one of two regions comprising the Donbas, the industrial heartland of Ukraine that Moscow now occupies.
Russia has been bombarding and encircling Bakhmut for months, spearheaded by the Wagner group and bolstered by prison recruits. Most of its approximately 70,000 pre-war inhabitants have departed, leaving Ukrainian troops entrenched.
"They are deploying a large number of troops. I do not believe it is sustainable for them to continue assaulting in this manner, "Taras Dziob, the press officer for the Ukrainian 80th Air Assault Brigade, stated.
"There are locations where their bodies are stacked. There is a ditch where... the wounded and dead are not evacuated."
Dzioba talked with Reuters while standing close to a Howitzer unit outside a defensive bunker near the Bakhmut front lines.
Its conquest would serve as a stepping stone for Russia to push on Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, two larger Donetsk cities to the West. But, Ukraine and its supporters argue that capturing Bakhmut would be a hollow triumph, given the months it has taken and the losses they claim Russia has endured.
Wagner commander Yevgeny Prigozhin predicted in an interview with a pro-war military blogger that Bakhmut would fall by April, depending on how many men Ukraine committed to the fight and how well his men were fed.
"Because there are a vast number of issues that require resolution. It will depend on whether or not we continue to be bled, "He added, referencing the conclusion of prisoner recruitment.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's chief of staff stated that the two sides swapped 101 prisoners of war, most of whom were defenders of Mariupol before the beleaguered southern city surrendered to Russian forces in May.
According to Ukraine's general staff, Russia is mobilizing the city's homeless and drug addicts. Reuters could not verify the allegation.
Zelenskiy stated in his nightly video message that his first objective was to repel Russian strikes, prepare for their escalation, and prepare for a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive.
"Holding the situation at the front and preparing for any enemy steps of escalation — that is the priority for the near future," he explained.
As Ukraine rapidly expands its ammunition and demands heavier weapons, including tanks and fighter jets, NATO members are increasing production. They have pledged to produce more during this week's conference in Brussels.
The army of Zelenskiy has already received substantial aid. Since the battle began, only the United States has contributed $27.4 billion.
Top U.S. officials have recommended Ukraine postpone a planned counteroffensive until the most recent shipment of U.S. weaponry arrives and training is delivered.
Moscow refers to the invasion as a "special military operation" against security concerns and the delivery of heavy weaponry to Ukraine as evidence that the West is intensifying the conflict.
Kyiv and its allies refer to Russia's actions as an annexation.
Diplomats in Brussels reported that European Union nations were "on a good track" to enact a tenth package of economic sanctions against Russia in time for the anniversary of the invasion.
Eli Cohen, the Israeli foreign minister, travelled to Ukraine for the first time during the conflict. Israel cooperates with Moscow on strikes on suspected Iranian targets in Syria but has refrained from pledging arms to Kyiv.
Cohen stated on Twitter that Israel would enhance its aid to Ukraine and assist in its reconstruction.