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Ukraine: Russian missile strike kills baby in Kharkiv

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Ukraine fighter tanks waiting for Russian invasion

A Russian missile struck a hotel in north-eastern Ukraine, killing a two-month-old infant and injuring his mother, according to officials.

According to Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Synehubov, the baby’s body was recovered from the ruins of the three-story building in the village of Zolochiv.

He said Russia launched two S-300 missiles at the hotel and neighbouring structures, injuring two more ladies.

Attacks in the Kharkiv region have increased since the end of 2023.

Zolochiv lies barely 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Russian border, which is too close for Ukraine’s air defences to provide adequate coverage.

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The S-300s that targeted the hotel in the early hours of Tuesday were initially designed as surface-to-air missiles for Russia’s air defences, but they have been modified to strike Ukrainian ground targets. They are viewed as less expensive than more precise cruise missiles.

Last month, another hotel in Kharkiv was targeted by S-300 missiles, injuring several people, including journalists reporting on the conflict in Ukraine.

In response to Russia’s bombing in late December, Ukrainian forces launched a devastating attack on Belgorod, a half-hour drive from the border.

In a related development, Ukraine’s SBU security service has arrested five people on suspicion of involvement in a Russian spy ring.

The SBU stated that the five included current and former officials of the main intelligence directorate and foreign intelligence service. It claimed they offered Russia’s FSB security service information about the military forces, energy infrastructure, and locations of US-made MRLS rocket launch systems.

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Russia’s full-fledged war in Ukraine is reaching the conclusion of its second year, with little progress on the battlefield since the beginning of the conflict.

Russian forces have focused much of their resources on capturing the eastern town of Avdiivka, which is regarded as a gateway to the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk.

The town’s population has all but left, and the majority of its structures have been reduced to rubble.

Ukraine’s much-publicised counter-offensive last summer yielded scant territorial gains, and President Volodymyr Zelensky told Italian TV this week that he was considering a “reset of some leaders of the state.”

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Speculation abounds that Putin is preparing to fire the hugely popular commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, who admitted last November that the conflict had come to a halt.

“If we want to win, we, all of us, have to be leaders of the victory. We cannot lose hope or give up in despair,” the president told Rai TV.

US military assistance for Ukraine has been halted in recent weeks because a White House request for $60 billion (£48 billion) in aid to Kyiv was stopped for weeks by Republicans in Congress after being entangled in a US bill to improve border security.

However, the European Union has just agreed to a four-year aid package totaling €50 billion (£43 billion) for Ukraine. Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy leader, said during a visit to Kyiv on Tuesday that his goal was to emphasise the EU’s consistent support for Kyiv as the war entered its third year.

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