Air raid sirens sounded across the country on Saturday after three days of deadly strikes that killed at least 34 people.
In the eastern city of Dnipro, which has remained relatively quiet since Russia invaded the country in February, missiles late Friday hammered a dozen buildings, including a school, residential apartments and an industrial complex.
A series of loud explosions and billowing black smoke came from the targeted sites. At least three people were killed and 15 wounded in the strike, according to Dnipro Gov. Valentyn
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday its forces had targeted production and repair facilities for ballistic missiles and rockets for multiple-rocket launch systems in the city.
In a video message posted to his official Telegram page early Saturday, Mr. Zelensky said that Russian forces continue to try to pressure his government and the people of Ukraine.
“The air siren alert is over almost the entire territory of our states,” he said.
His warning followed a deadly Kalibr cruise missile strike Thursday on an office building in Vinnytsia, a city about 125 miles southwest of Kyiv. The strike killed at least 23 people and wounded dozens.
Eight people were killed and 13 injured in a series of shellings across the eastern region of Donetsk, Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said. The districts attacked included Krasnohorivka, Slovyansk, Avdiivka, Zakitny, Hirnyk and Ostrivskyi. Fourteen people were injured.
Russian forces also destroyed private homes in the eastern city of Kostyantynivka.
“The invaders are turning our cities and towns into ruins, destroying people and industry,” Mr. Kyrylenko said.
Russian forces claimed control over the whole of the Luhansk region earlier this month after weeks of grinding battle that has taken a heavy toll on both sides. According to Ukrainian officials, Moscow is now focusing its offensive on the neighboring Donetsk region, which together with Luhansk form Donbas. Russia made capturing Donbas a priority after withdrawing from central Ukraine in March.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu traveled to an unidentified Russian command post on Saturday morning to inspect Russian troops and issue instructions for the forces to “intensify actions in all operational directions” to prevent Ukrainian strikes on “Donbas and other regions,” according to a press release from the Russian Defense Ministry.
The inspection comes after Ukrainian forces in recent weeks have used long-range artillery sent by the U.S. and allies against high-value targets such as ammunition depots and command posts deep in the Russian rear.
Officials in the Russian-held areas of eastern Ukraine said Saturday morning that Ukrainian forces had targeted the village of Skarhivka in Luhansk region overnight with Himars, multiple-launch rocket systems that began arriving from the U.S. last month.
Serhiy Haidai, the exiled governor of Luhansk, said Saturday that Himars systems had prompted Russian forces to switch tactics and stop storing ammunition in depots, instead bringing it straight to the front lines by vehicles. He noted that the amount of Russian shelling had significantly decreased as a result.
“If earlier the occupiers had a significant advantage in firepower, we have now made up for it and become stronger thanks to Western weapons,” Mr. Haidai wrote on his Telegram channel.
In the northwestern Kharkiv region, Russian forces fired rockets overnight on the district of Chuguev, killing three people, Governor Oleh Sinegubov said on Telegram. A residential apartment building was destroyed, and a school and a building materials store were also damaged.
Mr. Sinegubov said heavy shelling continued in the Izyum district.
“We appeal to all residents of the region: do not ignore the air warning signals, stay in shelters as much as possible!” he wrote. “Take care of yourself and your loved ones.”
Russia has also moved to shore up its hold over territory it has seized by issuing Russian currency and connecting the areas to Russian cellular and television networks. On Saturday, the Russian-installed deputy head in the southern region of Kherson, Ekaterina Gubareva, wrote on her Telegram channel that 85% of the territory was now covered by Russian mobile networks.
Ukrainian officials have said in recent weeks that the country’s armed forces are preparing a counteroffensive intended to regain control of Russian-occupied Kherson. On Saturday, officials in the Russian-held Donetsk region said that Russian forces have dug in and are prepared for a defense of the Kherson region.
Russia has also occupied parts of the neighboring region of Zaporizhzhia, whose ports were key shipping points for much of Ukraine’s grain and agricultural products. On Saturday, the Russia-installed head, Evgeny Balitsky, wrote on his Telegram channel that the region had signed a contract for shipping 150,000 tons of grain by railroad. He said 100 train carriages had already been sent, but he didn’t provide details about the buyer.
Mr. Balitsky also said that 100,000 tons of grain would be shipped from the port of Berdyansk, where he said four ships are ready to be loaded.
Ukrainian officials and farmers accuse Russia of stealing its grain and shipping it to Middle Eastern countries.
Russia’s invasion has trapped some 20 million tons of grain and other agricultural products in Ukraine and triggered a growing global food crisis. Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish negotiators reached a proposed deal on Wednesday that would see grain shipped via the Black Sea. The agreement on a so-called grain corridor still requires Mr. Putin’s approval.