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Russia hits key Ukrainian industrial site for second day as Moldova warned it faces Putin’s wrath

It comes as Hungary and Ukraine reach diplomatic deadlock

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Monday 29 January 2024 21:09 GMT
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Russian troops struck an industrial site in a central Ukrainian district for a second day as attacks were launched on wide areas of civilian and critical infrastructure, Kyiv officials said.

Ukraine’s air force said Russia attacked the central Poltava region with two ballistic missiles fired from an Iskander system on Sunday, and fired three surface-to-air missiles over the Donetsk region in the east.

“For the second day in a row, the enemy is attacking Poltava,” regional governor Filip Pronin wrote on the Telegram messaging app, noting that the target was an industrial site in the Kremenchuk district.

Pictures posted on social media showed emergency crews battling a blaze.

Recent shelling in Donetsk has caused devastation to civilian infrastructure

Preliminary information did not show any casualties in the attacks, the air force said. A missile attack on Saturday hit an industrial site in the same area, triggering a fire but causing no casualties.

Russia and Ukraine have increased their air attacks on each other’s territory in recent months, targeting critical military, energy and transport infrastructure.

On Monday, a Ukrainian rocket strike on the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine killed at least three civilians, Alexei Kulemzin, the city’s Russian-installed mayor said.

Unverified images circulating on social media showed a car on fire and what appeared to be two bodies lying in a street.

Firefighters work in a destroyed building hit by shelling in a residential area in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine

Further southeast in the Zaporizhzhia region, Governor Yuri Malashko said an infrastructure site had been hit in a drone attack. Emergency crews were at the site, he said, but he gave no details of damage or casualties.

Ukraine’s air defence systems destroyed four out of eight drones launched by Russia overnight, the air force said.

Elsewhere, the Institute for the Study of War think tank said Moldova, which includes the pro-Russian breakaway province Transnistria, has become the target of Russian anger.

Alexei Polishchuk, the director of the second department of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Countries at the Russian ministry of foreign affairs, claimed in an interview with TASS that Moldova has begun to “destroy its ties” with CIS member states.

He claimed this decision would not benefit Moldovan interests or citizens nor would it be profitable for the Moldovan economy.

The CIS was founded in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and is aimed at boosting cooperation between the countries.

Meanwhile, the European Union has denied that a confidential document seen by the Financial Times is evidence of a Brussels plot to sabotage Hungary’s economy if Budapest blocks a €50bn (£43bn) package of aid for Ukraine.

A Brussels spokesperson insisted the document was merely a factual “background note” which “describes the current status of the Hungarian economy”.

Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto (left) speaks during a press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba (right)

While Budapest was the one EU member state to block the €50bn package in December, Viktor Orban’s government signalled it was ready to change its position, despite levelling furious allegations of “blackmail” against the EU in response to the FT report.

But in a meeting on Monday between their foreign ministers, no breakthrough was reached.

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said that modifications Ukraine made late last year to its education and language laws had “doubtlessly stopped a negative spiral” that had restricted the rights of ethnic Hungarians in the western Ukrainian region of Zakarpattia to study in their native language.

But, he said, those changes were not enough to resolve the dispute over the language rights of the Hungarian minority that has dominated the two countries’ poor relations for years.

Hungary, Mr Szijjarto said, has an “expectation that the members of the Hungarian national community will regain their rights that already existed in 2015.”

“We still have a long way to go,” he said, “but we on the Hungarian side are ready to do this work.”

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