Russian warplanes, artillery widen attack, hit industry hub

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Russia’s airplanes and artillery widened their assault on Ukraine on Saturday, striking airfields in the west and a major industrial hub in the east, as Moscow’s forces tried to regroup from recent losses and their onslaught fast reduced crowded cities to rubble.

This multispectral satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows buildings and fuel storage tanks on fire at Antonov Airport. (Source: Associated Press)

American intelligence officials offered an assessment of the Russian air campaign, estimating that invading pilots are averaging 200 sorties a day, compared with five to 10 for Ukrainian forces, which are focusing more on surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and drones to take out Russian aircraft.

New commercial satellite images appeared to capture artillery firing on residential areas between Russian forces and the capital.

The images from Maxar Technologies showed muzzle flashes and smoke from the big guns, as well as impact craters and burning homes in the town of Moschun, outside Kyiv, the company said.

In a devastated village east of the capital, villagers climbed over toppled walls and flapping metal strips in the remnants of a pool hall, restaurant and theatre freshly blown apart by Russian bombs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “created this mess, thinking he will be in charge here,” 62-year-old Ivan Merzyk said. In temperatures sinking below freezing, villagers quickly spread plastic wrap or nailed plywood over blown out windows of their homes.

“We are not going away from here,” Merzyk said.

On the ground, Russia’s forces appeared to be trying to regroup and regain momentum after encountering heavier losses and stiffer resistance than anticipated over the past two weeks. Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russia is trying to “re-set and re-posture” its troops, gearing up for operations against Kyiv.

“It’s ugly already, but it’s going to get worse,” said Nick Reynolds, a warfare analyst at Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank.

With the invasion in its 16th day, Putin said there had been “certain positive developments” in Russia-Ukraine talks, but gave no details.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed Ukrainian forces had “reached a strategic turning point,” though he did not elaborate.

“It’s impossible to say how many days we will still need to free our land, but it is possible to say that we will do it,” he said via video from Kyiv.

According to the UN, around 2.5 million people are thought to have fled Ukraine since the war began.

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