‘Ukraine shelling kills 10’ in Russian-controlled town


Ukraine’s army chief says the situation on the eastern front has worsened in recent days.
Ukraine’s army chief says the situation on the eastern front has worsened in recent days.

A Russia-installed official in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region says shelling by Ukraine’s military has killed 10 people, including three children, in the town of Tokmak.

Yevgeny Balitsky, the top official in the Zaporizhzhia region, said that 18 people had been wounded in the shelling on Friday night.

“Two people are reported missing. Debris removal and search continues,” he said on the Telegram messaging app.

Another Russian-installed local official, Vladimir Rogov, writing on his Telegram channel, said that five houses had been partially destroyed.

Reuters could not independently verify the account of events.

Zaporizhzhia is one of four Ukrainian regions that have been partially occupied by Russian forces and formally annexed since the February 2022 invasion.

Ukraine’s army chief said on Saturday the situation on the eastern front had worsened in recent days as Russia has intensified its armoured assaults and battles rage for control of a village west of the devastated city of Bakhmut.

The statement by Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said he travelled to the area to stabilise the front as Russian assault groups using tanks and armoured personnel carriers took advantage of dry warm weather that has made it easier to manoeuvre.

“The situation on the eastern front in recent days has grown considerably more tense. This is linked primarily to the significant activisation of offensive action by the enemy after the presidential elections in Russia,” he wrote on the Telegram app.

Since President Vladimir Putin won a new term in a mid-March election, Russia has stepped up its attacks on Ukraine and unleashed three massive aerial strikes on its energy system, pounding power plants and substations.

A slowdown in military assistance from abroad has left Ukraine more exposed to aerial attacks and heavily outgunned on the battlefield.

Ukraine has made increasingly desperate appeals for supplies of air defence missiles in recent weeks.

Russian forces, Syrskyi said, were taking significant losses during their attacks in the east but were also making tactical gains.

Social media channels reported the fall of Ukraine’s eastern village of Bohdanivka to the west of the occupied city of Bakhmut, prompting Ukraine’s defence ministry to deny them.

But it acknowledged fierce fighting in the area and said Russian assault groups had reached the village’s northern outskirts overnight.

“Bohdanivka is now under the control of the defence forces,” it said.

The settlement lies a few kilometres northeast of the town of Chasiv Yar, a Ukraine-controlled stronghold that Russia has been trying to reach after seizing the town of Avdiivka in February to the south.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday its forces had captured Pervomaiske, a village to the south also located in Ukraine’s Donetsk region where the Russian side has focused its offensive operations for months.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who has warned Russia may be preparing a big offensive push in late May or in June, inspected domestically-produced weapons at an event outside Kyiv where he presented state awards to Ukrainian arms producers.

At the event, Ukraine’s military drone forces chief said supplies of drones to the front lines this year were already three times higher than the volume supplied over the course of the whole of last year, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.

He also said Ukraine had strike drones capable of flying 1200km