On 24 February, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk requested assistance to defend themselves from attacks by Ukrainian forces.
Nationalists from the Azov battalion used grad systems on residential areas of the Mariupol suburb and on the school in Mariupol, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.
“On 26 February from 16.00 to 16.20, Ukrainian nationalists from the Azov battalion attacked residential areas of the Sartana settlement in the suburbs of Mariupol and at School No. 8 in the city of Mariupol. As a result, there is destruction of residential buildings and there are dead among the civilian population,” Konashenkov said.
“The Russian Defence Ministry warned that Ukrainian nationalists were preparing such provocations,” he added.
The Russian army has destroyed 975 objects of the military infrastructure of Ukraine, Konashenkov said.
“Among them are 23 command posts and communication centres of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, three radar posts, 31 S-300, Buk M-1 and Osa anti-aircraft missile systems, and 48 radar stations. Eight combat aircraft and seven helicopters and 11 unmanned aerial vehicles were shot down. devices as well as two Tochka-U tactical missiles, Konashenkov added.
According to him, “223 tanks and other armoured combat vehicles, 28 aircraft (on the ground), 39 multiple launch rocket systems, 86 field artillery guns and mortars, 143 units of special military vehicles” were destroyed.
The air defence regiment of the Ukrainian troops, equipped with Buk M-1 complexes, laid down its arms and surrendered on Saturday, the spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry said.
“Over the past day, the cities of Kherson and Berdyansk have been completely blocked off by the Russian Armed Forces. The city of Genichesk and the Chernobaevka airfield near Kherson were also taken under control,” Konashenkov said.
On 21 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees recognising the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and early in the morning of 24 February Russia launched a military operation to demilitarise Ukraine. In a televised address to citizens, Putin said that circumstances “require decisive and immediate action”, as the Donbass republics asked for help.
Later, the Russian Defence Ministry stressed that the Russian Armed Forces did not launch any strikes on the cities of Ukraine: military infrastructure was disabled by high-precision means. The civilian population, according to the statement of the ministry, was not in danger.
In the past weeks, the situation along the line of contact has significantly deteriorated as Ukrainian forces intensified the shelling of Donbass.