Russian forces pounded Ukrainian cities with missiles, mortars, artillery fire and airstrikes over the weekend, killing at least one person and taking out homes and critical infrastructure, Ukrainian officials said Sunday.
The damage reports came in from various hot spots — Kherson, in the south; Kharkiv, in the northeast; and the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut, in Ukraine’s Donbas region, where Russian forces have been slowly but steadily advancing.
“Fierce battles for the city of Bakhmut continue,” according to a Sunday morning update from the Ukrainian military’s General Staff. But the update emphasized that Bakhmut was hardly the only target and that Russian forces had rained down dozens of airstrikes and many other artillery attacks across the country.
The violence comes as Ukraine is preparing for an anticipated counteroffensive that could focus on seizing back territory in the east and south of the country. For Russia’s part, President Vladimir V. Putin has made the seizure of the entire Donbas region, in eastern Ukraine, a priority for Moscow’s forces.
“The threat of further missile and airstrikes on the entire territory of Ukraine remains high,” the battlefield update said. The Ukrainian reports could not be independently verified.
In just two southern regions, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, Russian forces hit more than 30 settlements with mortar and artillery fire over the past 24 hours, according to the update. Shelling killed one person and injured two others in the Kherson region, said Oleksandr Prokudin, the head of the local military administration.
“The Russian military targeted residential quarters of populated areas across the region,” he said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.
Meanwhile, older explosives buried in the ground continued to maim and kill. The military administration in the Kherson region said that a 30-year-old in a farming town near the regional capital had died after he “came across a Russian explosive.” The report didn’t provide further details but more than 100 Ukrainians have been killed by mines and other concealed explosives left behind by Russian forces, the Ukrainska Pravda news outlet reported on Saturday, citing Ruslan Berehulia, a Ukrainian demining official. The dead include six children, he said.
Ukrainian teams have been deployed to demine liberated areas but specialists believe there are still thousands of Russian mines, trip wires and booby traps hidden across the country. An area more than four times as large as Switzerland is unsafe because of land mines, the United Nations has estimated.
In Donbas, heavy fighting continues across a wide swath of already ravaged territory. Ukrainian officials said that Russian warplanes dropped 1,000-pound bombs on civilian areas.
One strike took out a critical power station on Saturday in Karlivka, Ukrainian officials said, leaving more than 67 settlements without running water.