Russia strikes rail, fuel centres as troop losses estimated at 15,000
Moscow now says its goal is to take the Donbas, the mostly Russian-speaking industrial region in eastern Ukraine.
While both sides say the campaign in the east is underway, Russia has yet to mount an all-out ground offensive and has not achieved any major breakthroughs.
Yesterday, Russia focused its firepower elsewhere, with missiles and warplanes striking far behind the front lines.
Five railway stations in central and western Ukraine were hit, and one worker was killed, said Oleksandr Kamyshin, head of Ukraine’s state railway.
The bombardment included a missile attack near Lviv, the western city close to the Polish border that has been swelled by Ukrainians fleeing the fighting elsewhere around the country.
Ukrainian authorities said that at least five people were killed by Russian strikes in the central Vynnytsia region.
Russia also destroyed an oil refinery in Kremenchuk, in central Ukraine, along with fuel depots there, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said.
In all, Russian warplanes destroyed 56 Ukrainian targets overnight, he said.
The Ukrainian rail system – one of the world’s largest – has become a vital cog in the country’s war effort, ferrying essential supplies in, and desperate civilians out of harm’s way.
Earlier this month, at least 50 people, including five children, were killed after Russian forces carried out a missile strike on a railway station in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, which was being used by civilians trying to flee the fighting.
By mid-March, barely three weeks into the war, the network said it had moved more than 2.1 million passengers domestically, plus roughly quarter of a million more who’d gone to Poland.
Many more have followed since.
Some train carriages have been refitted to carry medical supplies to the front lines and the wounded to hospitals.
Not only is the railway having to coordinate military and passenger trains, as well as aid shipments, but freight routes are also being ramped up.
The Russians have cut off Ukrainian access to many Black Sea ports, which is how nearly 95 per cent of agricultural output is normally shipped to markets abroad.
Now, Ukrainian Railways is attempting to compensate by sending more trains to Europe loaded with grain and produce.
That’s no small feat, considering Ukrainian tracks have a different gauge size than most European countries, so cargo has to be reloaded at the border.
The US, meanwhile, moved to rush more weaponry to Ukraine and said the assistance from the Western allies is making a difference in the war.
“Russia is failing. Ukraine is succeeding,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared, a day after he and the US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin made a bold visit to Kyiv to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Britain said it believes 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine since Moscow began its invasion.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said 25 per cent of the Russian combat units sent to Ukraine “have been rendered not combat effective.”
Ukrainian officials have said about 2500 to 3000 Ukrainian troops had been killed as of mid-April.
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