Ukraine has suffered its most intense bombardment of Russian shelling so far this year as Vladimir Putin’s troops hit 118 settlements in just 24 hours, Ukraine’s interior minister has said.
Moscow fired millions of shells on cities, towns and villages on Wednesday – more than on any single day so far this year – reducing some to rubble across the eastern and southern parts of the country, Ihor Klymenko said in a post on social media.
“Over the last 24 hours, the enemy shelled 118 settlements in 10 regions. This is the highest number of cities and villages that have come under attack since the start of the year,” he wrote on Telegram.
The bombardments came as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky lamented the world’s expectations of a speedy victory on the battlefield.
In response to growing criticism of Kyiv’s counteroffensive, he said: “The modern world is set up in such a way that it becomes accustomed to success quickly. When the full-scale aggression began, many in the world did not think Ukraine would endure.”
It comes as Kyiv reported a Russian attack on Black Sea shipping lanes, saying warplanes had dropped “explosive objects” in an area used by civilian vessels three times over the past 24 hours.
“There were three such drops registered in the last 24 hours. However, the navigation corridor continues to function under the watch of the defence forces,” the Southern Military Command said.
Ukraine is trying to build a new shipping lane without Russian approval to revive its seaborne exports. But the Kremlin said it would consider any vessel a potential military target after it abandoned a UN-brokered deal allowing Ukrainian goods to pass through.
Elsewhere, Russian forces carried out attacks against 13 of Ukraine’s oblasts, killing at least three people and injuring at least 15, according to local officials.
In Donetsk, in the east, one person was killed and two were injured during Russian attacks on the region, the local military administration said.
In Kharkiv, a Russian strike killed a man in his fifties and injured a 52-year-old woman, while one person was killed and eight were injured in a blast in the southern city of Kherson, governors in the areas reported.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military reported that more than 260 civilians have been killed after stepping on landmines or other explosives during the 20-month war with Russia.
Kyiv estimates that 174,000 sq km of Ukraine – about a third of its territory – is potentially strewn with mines or dangerous debris.
At least 571 people have been injured in more than 560 incidents involving mines or explosive objects left behind by the fighting, a military spokesperson said on Telegram.
While Ukraine recuperated from Russian shelling, Moscow failed to regain lost ground on two fronts.
Mr Putin’s forces failed to make gains near Klishchiivka and Andriivka south of Bakhmut and near Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine’s armed forces general said, as Ukrainian forces engaged in 68 clashes with Russian troops.
The clashes come as Ukraine prepares for a new wave of attacks near the besieged town of Avdiivka in the eastern region of Donetsk.
Ukrainian troops advanced against Russia on two fronts, according to military think tank the Institute for the Study of War. “Geolacted footage posted on 30 October shows that Ukrainian forces have advanced northeast of Kurdyumivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut),” it said.
And in an overnight drone and missile attack, Russia struck a Ukrainian oil refinery in the city of Poltava, in central Ukraine.
The Kremenchuk oil refinery burst into flames after the strike, which targeted military and critical infrastructure, said Filip Pronin, the head of the region’s military administration.
Mr Pronin said via the Telegram messaging app that the situation was under control and the fire had been extinguished.