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Civilian Casualties Mount As Russia Launches New Wave Of Attacks In Ukraine

Russia's military launched missile and drone strikes across Ukraine overnight, triggering air alerts and the country's air-defense system, Ukrainian officials reported early on February 16.

One of the strikes killed a 79-year-old woman and injured at least seven other people, Ukrainian authorities later reported.

Russian forces used a variety of missile types, firing 36 in a two-hour period, armed forces commander-in-chief General Valery Zaluzhniy said, adding Ukrainian air-defense batteries had shot down 16 of them.

Writing on Telegram earlier, Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine's presidential office, said unspecified sites in the north and west of Ukraine had been hit, as well as the central regions of Dnipropetrovsk and Kirovohrad. Yermak said Russian forces "changed their tactics" for the strike, deploying what he described as "active reconnaissance" and "false targets."

In western Ukraine, Maksym Kozytskiy, head of the Lviv regional military administration, said "a critical infrastructure facility" had been hit in the region in the overnight Russian attack.

The fresh attacks come amid reports of intensifying fighting in the country's east. Russian artillery, drones, and missiles have relentlessly pounded Ukrainian-held areas in the country's east for months, indiscriminately hitting civilian targets and wreaking destruction

In its daily briefing on February 16, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Ukrainian forces had repelled Russian attacks on 15 settlements in the east.

The Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which together comprise the industrial Donbas region bordering Russia, have suffered severely from Russia's bombardments as Moscow reportedly moves more troops into the area.

Six civilians were killed and 13 wounded in Russian shelling in the Donetsk region on February 15, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a post on Telegram on February 16.

On February 15, Russian invading forces claimed some battlefield success, saying its troops broke through two Ukrainian defensive lines in the eastern Luhansk region and pushed back Ukrainian troops some 3 kilometers.

It was not possible to independently verify Moscow's claim. Ukrainian officials made no immediate comment.

Elsewhere, Kyiv's military administration said that six apparent reconnaissance balloons were detected floating over the capital on February 15 and that "most of them" had been shot down.

It said the balloons "could carry corner reflectors and certain reconnaissance equipment" and were designed to "identify and deplete" Ukraine's air defenses.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said his country's forces would need "a few months" to learn how to use new Western weapons before they can try and push the Russians out of Ukraine.

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In a speech to the lower house of the State Duma on February 15, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that Western support for Kyiv's war effort was prearranged, saying that "the U.S. and its satellites are waging a comprehensive hybrid war following years of preparation."

Lavrov said a revised Russian foreign policy doctrine to be published soon will emphasize the need to "end the Western monopoly on shaping frameworks of international life."

By RFE/RL

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