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Ukraine says ready to launch assault to retake occupied land – Times of India

Kyiv said on Friday it was nearly ready to launch a huge ground assault to retake occupied land, after Russia hurled missiles at cities as people slept overnight, killing at least 21 civilians in its first large-scale air strikes in nearly two months.
The war is coming to a crucial juncture after a months-long Russian winter offensive that gained little ground despite the bloodiest fighting so far. Kyiv is preparing a counteroffensive using hundreds of tanks and armoured vehicles sent by the West, hoping to drive Russia out of the nearly a fifth of the country that it occupies and claims to have annexed.
“As soon as there is God’s will, the weather and a decision by commanders, we will do it,” Ukrainian defence minister Oleskii Reznikov told an online news briefing. Ukraine was “to a high percentage ready” to launch its campaign, he said. Its new modern weapons would serve as an “iron fist”.
In the central town of Uman, firefighters battled a raging blaze at a residential apartment building that had been struck on an upper floor by a Russian missile. Officials said at least 19 civilians were killed there, including several children.
“No one is left,” said Serhii Lubivskyi, 58, who survived inside a flat on the seventh floor, rescued by firefighters from the balcony where he escaped with his wife after the explosion blocked their front door.
The wave of Russian missile attacks overnight was the first since early March. Moscow said the targets of its overnight strikes were locations of Ukrainian reserve troops, which it had struck successfully, preventing them from reaching the front. It supplied no evidence to support this.
In the southeastern city of Dnipro, a missile struck a house, killing a two-year-old child and a 31-year-old woman, regional governor Serhiy Lysak said. The capital Kyiv was also rocked by explosions in the early hours, aswere the central cities of Kremenchuk and Poltava, and Mykolaiv in the south. In Donetsk, an eastern city controlled by Russian proxies since 2014, a Russian-installed official said seven people had been killed by Ukrainian shelling that hit a minibus.
The Ukrainian military said it had shot down 21 out of 23 cruise missiles fired by Russia. Moscow says it does not deliberately target civilians. Kyiv says strikes on cities far from the front lines have no military purpose apart from intimidating and harming civilians, a war crime. “This Russian terror must face a fair response from Ukraine and the world,” President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Telegram. “And it will. ”

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