Russia escalates attacks in frontline attack after ‘lull’: Kyiv

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Russian forces have escalated attacks near Toretsk, a frontline town in eastern Ukraine that has remained relatively calm over recent months of fighting, officials and AFP journalists reported Wednesday.

Ukrainian forces lacking critical manpower and arms have struggled to hold the line in the eastern Donbas region, which the Kremlin claims is part of Russia.

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The military said in a briefing late Tuesday that Russia had “intensified” its assaults near Toretsk and “launched five assault operations at once,” targeting surrounding towns and villages.

Military analysts reported Russian advances towards Toretsk, which had an estimated pre-war population of around 32,000 people.

Moscow’s troops in recent months have swung the battlefield initiative in their favour and advanced north and south of Toretsk, but the front line has remained relatively stable near the mining town.

The Ukrainian military said the increase in Russian attacks had begun “after a prolonged lull.”

One resident of the town, 67-year-old Oleksandr told AFP journalists by telephone that he had experienced an up-tick in Russian bombardments, corroborating official reports.

“They started shooting in the morning and it was going on all day long,” he told AFP, adding that residents had been taking shelter in basements.

He said residents were staying near the entrances to buildings to gauge the worsening fighting and “so that if any-thing happens, they can jump inside,” adding that a Russian projectile had landed near his home earlier Wednes-day.

The head of the region Vadym Filashkin announced Wednesday morning that Russian fire near the town of Pokrovsk further south had left one dead and one wounded over the last 24 hours.

He also said 21 residential buildings had been damaged near Toretsk, nearly double that from one day earlier.

The Kremlin said it had annexed Donetsk along with three other partially occupied Ukrainian regions in late 2022, several months after launching its full-scale invasion.

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