Conflicts & War

Russia steps up missile strikes despite counteroffensive

By Rostyslav Averchuk

Lviv, Ukraine, Sep 22 (EFE).- Russia’s ongoing missile strikes are a reminder that Ukrainian cities and infrastructure remain a target despite the recent gains Kyiv has made during its swift counteroffensive.

A series of strikes against a TV tower and other infrastructure in Zaporizhzhia early on Thursday left at least one person dead and five people injured.

Later, an air alarm sounded all over Ukraine, signaling a Russian missile was launched and could reach anywhere in the country.

In Lviv, shops are quickly closed and some locals hurry up to take shelter but the majority continue business as usual because the last strike against the western city was recorded in May, so they believe the risk is not that high.

Things are different in the eastern Kharkiv region, which is near the Russian border and in the grips of a Ukrainian counter-attack.

“At best, you have one minute to hide when the alarm sounds and sometimes it gets turned on after a strike occurs,” Mykola, a Kharkiv resident, tells Efe over the phone.

“The border is some 40 kilometers away and there is nothing we can do about it,” he says, referring to the fact that Russia launches missiles from within its territory.

Most recently, Russia targeted a key electricity-producing plant, which plunged parts of the city into darkness for a day.

Various residential buildings have also been hit over the past weeks, leaving six people injured and 10 others rescued from under the rubble on Wednesday.

Still, people are returning to the city in increasing numbers, according to Mykola.

“We used to speed up to 120 kmh in our car to stay as short as possible in the open due to the threat of Russian attacks. The city is now full of cars again.”

Viktoriia, a professor at a local university, is one of those who returned after she was forced to flee her hometown in the wake of a Russian bomb that killed a two-year-old child and her grandmother near her house.

“The sound of a shell cutting through concrete is something I won’t be able to forget,” she says.

She says that the intensity of Russian attacks has fallen but the situation in the city remains difficult, with many left without a job, and soaring prices.

Despite the partial mobilization of the Russian population announced recently by president Vladimir Putin, Viktoriia only sees one way for this war to end.

“The victory of the (Ukrainian) people that have been fighting with various, mostly Russian, invaders for all of its history,” she says.

Volodymyr, a Ukrainian soldier, stresses: “the mobilization in Russia doesn’t make any difference to us.”

“It only means that we will have to kill even more of them,” he adds.

But the announcement of the release 215 Ukrainian prisons of war in an exchange early Thursday has gained much more attention.

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