Just over two weeks after offering to back off Kyiv, and just days after making progress in taking over Mariupol, Russia’s defense minister signaled the country would ramp up missile attacks on Ukraine’s capital. Igor Konashenkov announced Friday that Russian troops fired missiles at a machine-building plant outside Kyiv.
“Workshops for the production and repair of long and medium-ranged anti-aircraft missile systems as well as anti-ship missiles were destroyed,” Konashenkov said. “The number and scale of missile strikes on targets in Kyiv will increase in response to any terrorist attacks or sabotage of the Kiev nationalist regime on Russian territory.”
Russian authorities have accused Ukraine of wounding seven people and damaging about 100 residential buildings with airstrikes in Bryansk, a Russian region that borders Ukraine. Authorities in another border region of Russia also reported Ukrainian shelling Thursday. Both accusations came two weeks after the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said an airstrike attack at an oil depot caused fires, wounded two people and damaged several nearby businesses.
Russia’s refocus on Kyiv comes as Ukraine is still hanging on to Mariupol, despite Russia announcing the surrender of more than 1,000 Ukrainian troops earlier this week. Other troops have taken refuge at the Azovstal iron and steel works, which is known as one of Europe’s biggest metallurgical plants. While the plant has been heavily damaged, Ukrainian troops have taken advantage of its more than four miles of space, as well as the variety of buildings, blast furnaces and rail tracks.
“The Azovstal factory is an enormous space with so many buildings that the Russians… simply can’t find [the Ukrainian forces],” said Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst based in Kyiv.