Pro IQRA News Updates.
The death toll from a weekend Russian missile attack on an apartment building in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro has risen to 40, authorities said Monday, as Western analysts pointed to indications that the Kremlin was preparing for a protracted war in Ukraine after nearly 11 months of fighting.
About 1,700 people lived in the multi-story building and search and rescue crews have been working non-stop since Saturday’s strike to locate victims and survivors in the wreckage. The regional administration said 39 people have been rescued so far and 30 more are missing. Authorities said at least 75 were injured.
The reported death toll made it the deadliest single attack on Ukrainian civilians since before the summer, according to The Associated Press-Frontline War Crimes Watch project. Residents said the apartment tower did not house any military facilities.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, called the strike, and others like it, “inhuman aggression” because it directly targeted civilians. “There will be no impunity for these crimes,” he said in a tweet on Sunday.
Asked about the strike on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian military does not target residential buildings and suggested the Dnipro building was hit as a result of Ukrainian air defense actions.
The attack on the building came amid a larger barrage of Russian cruise missiles over Ukraine. The Ukrainian military said on Sunday that it had no way of intercepting the type of Russian missile that hit the residential building in Dnipro.
Fierce fighting continued to rage on Monday in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk province, where military analysts said both sides were likely to suffer heavy troop losses. No independent verification of the development was possible.
Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk province make up Donbas, an expansive industrial region bordering Russia that Russian President Vladimir Putin identified as a focus from the beginning of the war. Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Kiev’s forces there since 2014.
The Russian and Belarusian air forces began a joint exercise on Monday in Belarus, which borders Ukraine and served as a staging post for Russia’s Feb. 24 the invasion of Ukraine. The exercises are set to last through February. 1, the Belarusian Defense Ministry said. Russia has sent its warplanes to Belarus for the exercises.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, reported signs that the Kremlin was taking steps to turn its Ukraine invasion into “a major conventional war” after months of embarrassing military reversals.
What Moscow calls “a special military operation” aimed to capture the Ukrainian capital Kyiv within weeks and install a pro-Kremlin regime there, but Russian forces eventually withdrew from around Kyiv, the think tank said. Then came a successful Ukrainian counter-offensive in recent months before the onset of winter slowed military progress.
“The Kremlin is likely preparing to implement a decisive strategic move in the next six months intended to regain the initiative and end Ukraine’s current string of operational successes,” the Institute for the Study of War said in a report late Sunday.
It noted reports indicating that the Russian military command was in “serious preparations” for an expanded mobilization effort, preserving mobilized personnel for future use, while seeking to increase military industrial production and reshape its command structure.
That means Ukraine’s Western allies “will need to continue to support Ukraine in the long term,” the think tank said.
In recent days, NATO member states have tried to assure Ukraine that they will stay the course. Britain has pledged tanks and the US military’s new, expanded combat training of Ukrainian forces began in Germany on Sunday.