Massive explosions lit up the night sky near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv early Sunday as Ukrainian forces continue to repel Russian attempts to gain control of the historic city, despite overwhelming odds.
Two large explosions appeared to have been around Vasylkiv – a small city with a large military airfield and multiple fuel tanks – some 30 kilometers, or about 18 miles, south of Kyiv.
The explosions come as Ukrainian forces engage in fierce fighting with Russian troops in multiple cities across the country, as ordinary Ukrainians and reservists join efforts to defend their homes and families against Russian acts of violence.
Accusations of war crimes: Concerns are now growing that Russia may look to deploy indiscriminate battlefield weaponry in civilian areas in a desperate attempt to crush Ukrainian resistance.
On Saturday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal accused Russia of war crimes, saying Russian forces shelled kindergartens, residential blocks and “buses with children.”
Though Russia has claimed it is not targeting civilian infrastructure, an increasing body of evidence on the ground suggests otherwise.
Civilian deaths: Ukraine has reported multiple civilian deaths, including a six-year-old boy who died in heavy gunfire in a western district of Kyiv Saturday evening, according to a local hospital.
A woman was killed after a nine-story residential building in the eastern city of Kharkiv was hit by “enemy artillery” on Saturday night, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service.
And on Saturday, a large residential apartment block in the west of Kyiv was struck by what a Ukrainian government minister described as a Russian missile, as residents across the city were forced to seek shelter after a terrifying night punctuated by gunfire and explosions.
Michael Kofman, research program director in the Russia Studies Program at CNA, a Washington-based think tank, tweeted:
“I think today we’ve seen a shift in Russian targeting towards critical civilian infrastructure, greater use of MLRS, and artillery in suburban areas. Unfortunately, my concern that this was going to get a lot more ugly and affect civilians is starting to materialize,” he said.
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