KYIV, Ukraine — Russia targeted more than 40 villages around Ukraine over the past day, Ukrainian officials said Wednesday, killing at least two people and sustaining the terror that forces people into air raid shelters each night.
Russian forces launched five rockets, 30 air strikes and more than 100 multiple-launch rocket system attacks on Ukrainian targets, the Ukrainian armed forces general staff said.
The attacks come as fears are growing that Russia, facing setbacks on the battlefield, could try to detonate a device that uses explosives to scatter radioactive waste in an effort to sow terror.
Russia’s defense minister called his counterparts from India and China to convey Moscow’s concern about a purported Ukrainian plan to use such a so-called “dirty bomb,” repeating an allegation that Ukraine and the West have strongly refuted.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu voiced Moscow’s concern about “possible Ukrainian provocations involving a ‘dirty bomb’” in the calls with his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, and China’s Wei Fenghe, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
The conversations followed Shoigu’s calls with British, French, Turkish and U.S. counterparts Sunday in which he made the same claim. Britain, France, and the United States rejected that claim as “transparently false.”
Despite the Western dismissal of the Russian claims, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that “we have the information that there is an ongoing preparation in Ukraine for such a terror attack.”
“We will continue to energetically inform the global community about what we know to persuade it to take action to prevent such irresponsible action by the regime in Kyiv,” Peskov told reporters.
A Ukrainian official reported Wednesday that a Russian strike hit a gas station in the city of Dnipro, killing two people, including a pregnant woman. The governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentyn Reznichenko, said four people wounded were hospitalized.
Mykolaiv, a southern port city near the war’s front line, is among the places where residents have lined up to receive rations of bread and canned food as increases in food prices and losses of income add to the war-time burdens of low-income households in Ukraine.
Several buildings and neighborhoods were struck in Mykolaiv on Tuesday, though it was still unclear if there were any casualties, according to local authorities.
Missiles continued early Wednesday morning.
The sole food distribution point in Mykolaiv allows each person to receive free bread once every three days. Many must walk long distances to collect the essential food items for their family.
“Bread and canned food is all I eat. It’s almost winter already, and it’s terrifying,” Anna Bilousova, 70, said.
For 74-year-old Olena Motuzko, getting the food is an ordeal because she has a disabled husband she must leave alone for hours at a time.
Others are trying to survive by going underground at night.
A 73-year-old woman spends her days in her home, cooking and washing, and every evening around 6 p.m. heads underground to a small makeshift sleeping area in a basement with several members of her family. She has been doing that every night since the war began in late February.
Valentyna, who asked that her last name not be used for security reasons, leaves her home unwillingly but heads into the shelter out of fear of the strikes that hit almost evening night, describing the sound of incoming attacks as “very scary.”
“My nervous system can’t cope with it,” said, sitting in her makeshift bedroom.
In the shelter, she and her family members count the blasts they hear and then check their phones to learn where they hit.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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