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Russia steps up shelling in regions outside Donbass in Ukraine – Portal

LVIV, Ukraine, Jan 22 (Portal) – Russia has stepped up shelling of Ukraine’s eastern regions outside the main front line in the Donbas industrial zone, officials from Zaporizhia and Sumy regions said on Saturday.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said a recent offensive has put its army’s units in more advantageous positions along the Zaporizhia frontline, a claim Ukrainian military officials called an exaggeration.

Portal could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

Since an aggressive Ukrainian counter-offensive in late August, fighting has focused on the Donbass, which includes most of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions partially controlled by Russia and which Moscow is said to have annexed.

After invading its neighbor on February 24, Russia attacked other parts of eastern Ukraine but failed to capture them. The increased shelling comes as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials said Moscow is likely to attempt a new offensive in the coming months.

The Russian attacks are aimed at overloading Ukraine’s defenses and preventing Kyiv from retaking territory, officials and analysts say.

“The enemy activated artillery fire while trying to study our defenses,” Oleksandr Starukh, governor of Zaporizhia region in southeastern Ukraine, said via messaging app Telegram.

Russia fired on the region 166 times a day, he said, with 113 attacks targeting populated areas, killing one civilian. Russia says it doesn’t target civilians.

Yevhen Yerin, a military spokesman in Zaporizhia, countered Moscow’s claim about recent progress, telling Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne: “At the moment they haven’t captured anything. All their attempts were repulsed and the enemy suffered casualties.”

The General Staff of Ukraine’s military said Russia is continuing its offensive in Zaporizhia and is increasingly using aviation. On Saturday, 25 settlements in the region were hit by Russian artillery fire.

Russian forces carried out 115 strikes in the Sumy region, bordering Russia in northeastern Ukraine, regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said on Telegram.

A 17-year-old was injured and a number of homes and infrastructure buildings were destroyed, Zhyvytsky said.

Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst in Kyiv, said the intensified attacks in Sumy were a “test” of Russia. “This is not their first attempt,” Zhdanov said in a social media video, adding that the attacks were repelled.

Reporting by Maria Starkova in Lviv; writing from Lidia Kelly; Adaptation by William Mallard

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