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Ukraine hit by missiles; Russia targets Bakhmut by April

On Thursday, Russia launched missiles across Ukraine, hitting the largest oil refinery. Wagner mercenary group predicts Bakhmut's fall in a few months.

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Kyiv, Feb 16 (The Street Press) – On Thursday, Russia launched missiles into Ukraine, hitting its biggest oil refinery, according to Kyiv. The leader of the Wagner mercenary group also suggested that the city of Bakhmut, which has been under siege for a long time, might fall in the next few months.

In a recurring pattern, Russia fired 36 missiles in the early hours following Ukrainian battlefield or diplomatic successes, as reported by Ukraine’s Air Force. This came after NATO alliance officials had gathered the day before to discuss further support for Kyiv. Approximately 16 of the missiles were intercepted and shot down, a somewhat lower success rate than usual.

The missile strikes set off air-raid sirens across Ukraine, and they hit various locations, including the largest oil refinery in Kremenchuk. The damage assessment at the refinery, which has been targeted multiple times during the conflict with intermittent operational stoppages, remained uncertain.

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Ukraine’s Defense Ministry tweeted, “Another massive missile attack by the terrorist state on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.” Ukraine noted that the barrage consisted of three KH-31 missiles and one Oniks missile, which their air defenses were unable to intercept.

Moldovan police reported the discovery of missile debris near the Ukraine border once more. There hasn’t been any official statement from Moscow regarding these missile strikes.

Russia has increased its ground offensives in southern and eastern Ukraine in recent weeks, bolstered by tens of thousands of reservists. It appears that a significant new offensive is taking shape as the first anniversary of its invasion on February 24 approaches.

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The conflict has tragically claimed the lives of tens of thousands, causing severe destruction in Ukrainian cities, disrupting the global economy, and forcing millions of people to flee their homes.

As a sign of the immense disruption, Germany reported that in 2022, 1.1 million people arrived from Ukraine, surpassing the record migrant influx it experienced in 2015-16.

WAGNER SEES BAKHMUT CAPTURED BY APRIL

Russia’s primary attention is currently directed toward the small city of Bakhmut, located in Donetsk, one of the two regions comprising the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland, which is now partly under Russian occupation.

Led by the Wagner group, bolstered by prisoners-turned-recruits, Russia has been conducting relentless attacks on and encircling Bakhmut for months. The majority of its pre-war population, around 70,000 people, have fled the city, leaving Ukrainian soldiers entrenched in the area.

If Russia were to capture Bakhmut, it would provide them with a strategic position to advance toward two larger cities, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, further to the west in Donetsk. However, Ukraine and its allies argue that taking Bakhmut would be a costly victory for Russia, given the prolonged duration of the conflict and the significant loss of life resulting from the repeated Russian offensives.

Ukrainian servicemen of the 80th Air Assault Brigade fire M119 Howitzer artillery weapon towards Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near Bahmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, February 16, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djurica
Ukrainian servicemen of the 80th Air Assault Brigade fire M119 Howitzer artillery weapon towards Russian troops, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near Bahmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, February 16, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

During an interview with a military blogger supportive of the war, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner group, predicted that Bakhmut might fall either next month or in April. The timing would depend on the number of Ukrainian forces committed to the battle and the availability of supplies for his men.

Prigozhin noted, “Because there are a huge number of problems that need to be solved. Naturally it will also depend on whether we continue to be bled,” referring to the potential reduction in available recruits, particularly prisoners.

Ukraine is rapidly depleting its ammunition and is in urgent need of heavier firepower like tanks and fighter jets. NATO member countries are increasing their production efforts and have pledged to provide more support during meetings held in Brussels this week.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s army has received significant aid, with the United States being a major contributor, having committed over $27.4 billion since the conflict began.

Senior U.S. officials have recommended that Ukraine postpone its planned counter-offensive until they receive the latest supply of U.S. weaponry and receive training.

President Zelenskiy expressed gratitude to Norway for their commitment of $7 billion over five years, which is the largest aid package they’ve ever provided to a single recipient nation.

Russia refers to its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation” aimed at addressing security concerns, while characterizing Western deliveries of heavy weapons to Ukraine as evidence of escalating the conflict.

In contrast, Kyiv and its allies view Russia’s actions as a land-grab.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and his Canadian counterpart Melanie Joly are among the numerous foreign dignitaries who have visited Ukraine recently.

Cohen’s visit marked the first such visit during the war from Israel. Israel has been in coordination with Russia regarding strikes on suspected Iranian targets in Syria but has refrained from directly pledging weapon supplies to Kyiv.

On the other hand, Joly met with Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, and announced a contribution of C$21.2 million (approximately $15.8 million) in aid. This aid is intended to address issues related to sexual violence resulting from the conflict and support demining efforts in Ukraine, among other initiatives.

Canada remains committed to supporting Ukraine in its journey towards peace and seeking justice for the terrible crimes occurring throughout Ukraine, pledging to stand by them for as long as necessary.

President Zelenskiy, who has gained international recognition for his leadership in Ukraine’s war effort, was scheduled to open the Berlin Film Festival via video.

Belarus, which initially permitted Russia to deploy troops through its territory into Ukraine at the beginning of the conflict, has stated that it would only engage in military action alongside Russia if it faced an attack itself.

(Conversion note: $1 = 1.3409 Canadian dollars)

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Sk Sahiluddin
Sk Sahiluddinhttps://www.thestreetpress.com
Sk Sahiluddin is a seasoned journalist and media professional with a passion for delivering accurate and impactful news coverage to a global audience. As the Editor of The Street Press, he plays a pivotal role in shaping the editorial direction and ensuring the highest journalistic standards are upheld.
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