KYIV, Feb 16 (Reuters) – Russia rained missiles across Ukraine on Thursday and struck its largest oil refinery, Kyiv said, while the head of the Wagner mercenary group predicted the long-besieged city of Bakhmut would fall within a couple of months.
Following a pattern of heavy bombardments after Ukrainian battlefield or diplomatic gains, Russia launched 36 missiles in the early hours, Ukraine’s Air Force said, after NATO alliance officials met the previous day to plot more support for Kyiv.
About 16 were shot down, it added, a lower rate than normal.
The missiles triggered air-raid sirens and landed all over Ukraine, including its largest oil refinery, Kremenchuk, where the extent of damage was not immediately clear.
“Another massive missile attack by the terrorist state on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine,” the Defence Ministry tweeted. Ukraine said the barrage included three KH-31 missiles and one Oniks which its air defences cannot shoot down.
There was no word from Moscow on the strikes.
Bolstered by tens of thousands of reservists, Russia has intensified ground attacks across southern and eastern Ukraine in recent weeks, and a major new offensive appears to be shaping as the first anniversary of its Feb. 24 invasion nears.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, pulverised Ukrainian cities, destabilised the global economy just as it was recovering from the COVID pandemic, and uprooted millions of people from their homes.