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KYIV: Russia attacked cities in a wide arc across Ukraine early on Friday extending from the capital, Kyiv, through central and southern regions and at least five people were killed, according to media and officials.

“A young woman and a three-year-old child have been killed,” Borys Filatov, mayor of the central city of Dnipro, said on Telegram.

Filatov gave no further details. The central town of Uman, three people were killed and eight wounded when a missile hit an apartment building, setting it ablaze, said Ihor Taburets, head of the military administration in the area.

Kyiv was also rocked by explosions and air raid sirens and explosions were reported across the country, according to the Interfax Ukraine and reports on social media channels.

There were no details on what had been struck in Kyiv or of any damage and casualties. The city’s military administration said anti-aircraft units were in operation.

Interfax said explosions were also reported after midnight in Dnipro, Kremenchuk and Poltava in central Ukraine and in Mykolaiv in the south.

The attacks come as Ukrainian forces are expected to soon launch an offensive with new military equipment, including tanks, from its Western allies, after Russian forces made little headway in their winter offensive.

Russian forces have suffered setbacks throughout the conflict and have been trying for 10 months to punch their way into the shattered remains of Bakhmut, once a city of 70,000.

Russia sees Bakhmut as a key stepping stone to other cities in eastern Ukraine, now its major military objective.

One killed, 10 wounded in Russian attack on museum in east Ukraine: Zelenskiy

Russia’s attacks on Friday came a day after the Kremlin said it would welcome anything that could bring the end of the conflict closer, referring to a telephone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday.

It was the first time the leaders had spoken since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year.

But the Kremlin said it still needed to achieve the aims of its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, saying it was necessary to protect Russia.

Ukraine and its Western allies rejected that, saying the invasion was an unprovoked land grab by Putin, which has brought the biggest land war in Europe since World War Two.

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