- Hugo Pacheca in Kiev & Antoinette Radford in London
- BBC News
Russia launched a series of missiles at Ukrainian cities in the second pre-dawn attack in three days.
Pavlohrad, a logistics hub near the central city of Dnipro, was hit ahead of Ukraine’s much-anticipated counter-offensive.
The strike sparked a massive fire, destroying dozens of homes and injuring 34 people.
Hours later, air raid alerts rang out across the country, with the capital city of Kiev among the targets.
Ukraine’s military said it shot down 15 of the 18 cruise missiles launched across the country.
The most significant damage was in Pavlohrad, a Ukrainian-held city about 70 miles (110 km) from the front line. Photos posted on social media showed massive flames.
One resident, Olha Litvinenko, said they were getting dressed to leave the house when “both doors were smashed by the blast wave.”
“I ran out and saw the garage destroyed. Everything was on fire and there were pieces of glass everywhere. If we had been outside, we would have been killed,” she said.
Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk military administration described it as an “unfortunate night and morning”, saying an industrial site had been hit.
Nineteen high-rise apartments, 25 private houses, six schools and kindergartens and five shops were damaged.
Vladimir Rokov, an official based in Russia, said the strike targeted railway infrastructure and fuel depots.
A few hours later, at around 04:00 local time (02:00 GMT), an air raid warning sounded in Kiev and lasted for around three hours.
All missiles and drones fired at the capital have been destroyed, the military said.
In the Kherson region – still controlled by Russia – Ukrainian regional authorities said Russia had fired 39 shelling attacks.
They came from ground-based weapons and drones and aircraft, officials said, killing one person.
Ukraine says it is finalizing plans for a long-awaited offensive against Russian forces backed by Western-supplied weapons and military equipment.
Meanwhile, Russia is also preparing for a Ukrainian push and has strengthened its positions in the occupied territory.
In the latest reshuffle of the country’s military leadership, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Cl-General Mikhail Mizhintsev, who oversaw armed forces logistics, has been sacked after being appointed to the post last September.
There have long been complaints that front-line troops do not receive adequate military equipment and suffer from shortages of food and uniforms.
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian official said on Monday that the army had evacuated Russian forces from some positions in the eastern city of Baghmut, which had been besieged for months.
The commander of the ground forces, General Oleksandr Chirsky, said in a telegram that the situation was “very difficult” – but that “the enemy was not able to take control of the city”.