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Ukraine war: Massive explosions reported across country including Kyiv

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Russia unleashed a massive missile barrage on cities across Ukraine early Thursday, targeting energy infrastructure facilities in the first attack on such a scale in three weeks.

Ukrainian officials said residential buildings were hit but didn’t immediately say if there were casualties. At least two people were injured in Kyiv after an explosion, according to the city’s mayor.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is the largest in Europe, is also reportedly “without electricity” after a Russian strike.

The barrage comes as the owner of Russia’s Wagner Group military contractor claimed that his troops have extended their gains in the Ukrainian stronghold of Bakhmut.

The battle for Bakhmut has lasted six months and reduced the city with a pre-war population of more than 70,000 to a soldering wasteland.

Russian forces need the city to push further into parts of the Donetsk province they do not yet control. And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that if Bakhmut fell, Moscow would gain an “open road” for offensives deeper into the country.

Western officials say that the capture of the city is unlikely to change the course of the war.

On Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the city may fall into Russian hands in the coming days.

“What we see is that Russia is throwing more troops, more forces and what Russia lacks in quality they try to make up in quantity,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Stockholm.

“They have suffered big losses, but at the same time, we cannot rule out that Bakhmut may eventually fall in the coming days.”

The head of the military alliance insisted “it is also important to highlight that this does not necessarily reflect any turning point of the war.

“It just highlights that we should not underestimate Russia. We must continue to provide support to Ukraine,” he said.

Meanwhile, the European Union is considering spending €1bn for the joint procurement of ammunition for Ukraine and to refill the bloc’s own stockpiles.

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