Ukraine's 30th Independent Mechanized Brigade operates in the Bakhmut direction Ukraine's 30th Independent Mechanized Brigade operates in the Bakhmut direction  (ANSA)

Renewed Russian strikes add to suffering in Ukraine

Pope Francis' appeal for prayers and peace in Ukraine on Sunday came after residents in Kyiv were kept awake overnight by the first massive Russian drone strike in nearly two weeks.

By Stefan J. Bos

Air raid sirens wailed across Kyiv rousing bleary-eyed residents. The overnight Russian drone attack on the Ukrainian capital came after a 12-day break.

Blasts resembling the sound of air defense systems hitting targets could be heard, and orange flashes were visible in the sky.

Ukrainian authorities later claimed that their air defense systems destroyed all targets on their approach.

Military officials say Russian shelling also hit a residential area in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson on Sunday, injuring several people.

The shelling reportedly struck a high-rise residential building, a pharmacy, and a restaurant. The victims, now being treated in hospital, include a 50-year-old man.

Heavy combat between Ukrainian and Russian forces is said to be continuing in Kherson, near the destroyed Antonivsky Bridge over the Dnipro River.

While Ukraine has claimed some progress in its counter-offensive against invading Russian troops, all is not well at the frontline as criticism has emerged over at least some Western weapons.

Complaints over weapons

A Ukrainian commander complained that the highly mobile French AMX-10 RC infantry fighting vehicles – sometimes described as light tanks – are "impractical" for frontline attacks. He said one four-person crew had already died because of the vehicle's thin armor.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked French President Emmanuel Macron recently for sending light combat tanks to Kyiv, and Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine's defense minister, was even filmed riding in one.

Yet after nearly 500 days of war, residents try to cope with the anxiety linked to an armed conflict that killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of people.

Across the border in Poland, where more than 3.5 million refugees from Ukraine arrived since Russia's invasion in February last year, there are concerns about the war's regional impact.

On Sunday, Poland's government announced it would send 500 special police officers to its border with Belarus, a close ally of Russia.

Last week, Warsaw announced a tightening of security due to concerns over the presence of the Russian Wagner mercenary group in Belarus.

Russian president Vladimir Putin offered Wagner forces the choice to relocate to that country. But that has led to fears in Poland and other eastern members of the NATO military alliance that their presence will cause greater instability in the region.

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos

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02 July 2023, 16:14