UK military intelligence has said Russian forces are targeting populated areas in Ukraine but that the strength of resistance is slowing the advance of Vladimir Putin’s army.
The scale and strength of the Ukrainian resistance “continue to surprise Russia”, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in an update on the eleventh day of the Russian invasion.
As a result, it said Russia has responded by “targeting populated areas in multiple locations, including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol”.
The MoD added: “Russia has previously used similar tactics in Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016, employing both air and ground-based munitions.”
On Sunday morning, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said a Russian missile strike in Ovruch had destroyed 30 civilian homes, five of them completely – despite Russia’s denials it is targeting civilian areas.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries from the missile strike.
The MoD said the attacks on populated areas are “likely to represent an effort to break Ukrainian morale”, adding: “Russia has previously used similar tactics in Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016, employing both air and ground-based munitions.”
It said Russian supply lines “reportedly continue to be targeted”, slowing the rate of advance of their ground forces. The spokesman added that there is a possibility that invading troops are now trying to conceal fuel trucks as regular support trucks to minimize losses.
It comes as Moscow and Kyiv traded blame over a failed ceasefire on Saturday that would have let civilians flee Mariupol and Volnovakha, two southern cities besieged by Russian forces. Mr Putin’s forces were accused of shelling along the evacuation route.
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Ukrainians who could escape fled to neighboring Poland, Romania, Slovakia and elsewhere. The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine is expected to reach 1.5 million on Sunday.
Ukrainian negotiators said a third round of talks with Russia on a ceasefire would go ahead on Monday, although Moscow was less definitive.
Meanwhile, in a televised address on Saturday night, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky called on people in areas occupied by Russian troops to fight.
“We must go outside and drive this evil out of our cities,” he said, vowing to rebuild his nation.
Mr Zelensky asked for help securing aircraft from European allies in a video call with US lawmakers. He also called again for more lethal aid, a ban on Russian oil, a no-fly zone and an end to Visa and MasterCard privileges in Russia.
Visa and Mastercard later said they would suspend credit card operations in Russia, the latest in a dramatic series of corporate pullbacks over the invasion.
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