KIEV, May 7 (Reuters) – Russia continued missile attacks on Ukraine on Sunday ahead of a much-anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive targeting an industrial site in the southern Mykolayiv region, authorities said.
Mykolaiv Governor Vitaliy Kim said in a social media post that a building and territory of an unspecified company were damaged overnight after Russian long-range bombers attacked his region with five Kh-22 cruise missiles.
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told local television on Sunday morning that a total of six of these missiles had been fired at Ukraine overnight, but none had hit their targets.
At least five people were injured in the eastern Kharkiv region after an S-300 missile hit a parking lot in the city of Balakliya, Governor Oleh Synyehubov said.
Russian forces have stepped up their long-range missile strikes on civilian and infrastructure targets in recent days.
Over two-thirds of Ukraine, from Kiev and regions west of the capital to throughout the east and south, air raid alerts blared for several hours into early Sunday.
Officials in the capital Kyiv and in the south-eastern Dnipropetrovsk region also reported shooting down a reconnaissance and attack drone respectively in the early hours of the morning.
The overnight strikes coincided with Ukrainian and Russian media reports of multiple explosions in Russian-held Crimea.
Baza, a Telegram channel with ties to Russian law enforcement, reported that Ukraine sent a number of drones over the peninsula, with Russian air defenses shooting down at least one over the port of Sevastopol.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
Attacks on Russian targets have intensified over the past two weeks, particularly in Crimea. Ukraine, without confirming a role in these attacks, says the destruction of enemy infrastructure is in preparation for a planned ground attack.
It is widely expected that Kiev’s military will launch a counter-offensive in the coming weeks to retake Russian-held areas to the east and south.
In the southern city of Kherson, which Ukraine liberated last November but has been under constant Russian attack, six people have been killed in various strikes over the past 24 hours, Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said. (Reporting by Dan Peleschuk and Lidia Kelly; Writing by Dan Peleschuk and Lidia Kelly; Editing by Hugh Lawson)