Russia on Wednesday pounded railroad stations and other supply-line points across the country complaining that the West is “stuffing Ukraine with weapons”.
A day earlier, the Ukrainian commanders claimed that heavy fighting raged at the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol that represented the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the ruined southern port city.
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On Wednesday, the Russian military said it used sea- and air-launched missiles to destroy electric power facilities at five railway stations across Ukraine, while artillery and aircraft also struck troop strongholds and fuel and ammunition depots.
The flurry of attacks comes as Russia prepares to celebrate Victory Day on May 9, marking the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany.
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The world is watching for whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will use the occasion to declare a victory or expand what he calls a “special military operation”.
A declaration of all-out war would allow Putin to introduce martial law and mobilise reservists to make up for significant troop losses.
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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the speculation as “nonsense”.
As areas across Ukraine came under severe attack, Belarus, which Russia used as a staging ground for its invasion, announced military exercises starting on Wednesday.
The attacks on rail infrastructure were meant to disrupt the delivery of Western weapons, Russian defence ministry spokesman Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov said. Defence minister Sergei Shoigu said the West is “stuffing Ukraine with weapons”.
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Western weaponry pouring into Ukraine helped its forces thwart Russia’s initial drive to seize Kyiv and seems certain to play a central role in the growing battle for the Donbas, the eastern industrial region that Moscow now says is its main objective.
Meanwhile, Russia said it has banned entry to several dozen Japanese officials, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, after Tokyo joined international sanctions against Moscow over its military campaign in Ukraine.