OFFICIALS in Ukraine have reported that Russia unleashed a massive missile strike on cities across the country early Thursday morning.
The missiles have reportedly targeted energy infrastructure facilities in several cities.
Air raid sirens blared throughout Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, in the first missile attack in three weeks.
According to Ukrainian media, air defense systems were activated in several areas of the country.
Oleh Syniehubov, governor of the northeastern Kharkiv region, reported more than 15 strikes in Ukraine's second-largest city.
"Objects of critical infrastructure is again in the crosshairs of the occupants," he said in a social media post.
Maksym Marchenko, governor of the southern Odesa region, reported that energy facilities and residential buildings were hit in the area.
"The second wave is expected right now, so I ask the residents of the region to stay in shelters!" Marchenko wrote, saying the area was hit with a "massive missile attack."
These missile attacks have come from Russia since last October, initially targeting the country's energy infrastructure on a weekly basis.
This brought entire cities into the dark, however, the strikes became more spread out over time with speculation that Moscow might be saving up on ammunition.
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The last major barrage took place on February 16.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin has claimed control over the eastern part of Bakhmut this week, according to the leader of the Wagner mercenary group.
The Ukrainian military is now hanging on to positions and inflicting as many casualties as possible on enemy forces in a desperate attempt to grind down their fighting capability.
The General Staff of Ukraine's armed forces said: "The enemy, despite significant losses, continues to storm the town of Bakhmut."
Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as Putin's Chef and the head of Wagner, claimed his mercenaries had captured the city's east.
He said via Telegram: "Everything east of the Bakhmutka River is completely under the control of Wagner."
If the warlord's claims are true, Russian forces would now control nearly half of Bakhmut.
The chilling update comes as NATO's leader predicted the rest of the city could fall to the invading army in the next few days.
Speaking before a European Union defense ministers conference, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia was throwing more troops into the battle.
He said: "They have suffered big losses but at the same time we cannot rule out that Bakhmut may eventually fall in the coming days.
"This would not necessarily be a turning point in the war, he added, but it showed 'we should not underestimate Russia'."
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian National Guard's chief medic told Reuters that all roads in the area were under heavy shelling.
He said: "Ambulances and other vehicles come under shelling and for that reason it is very difficult to evacuate people.
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"There are high losses, and among medics in particular."
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