March 2 (UPI) — Ukrainian officials said Thursday that Russian strikes killed four people in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, while Moscow accused Ukraine of taking Russian hostages.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office reported on Telegram that “preliminary data” found that four people were killed in the strikes in Zaporizhzhia, and 13 more, including a child, were injured.
Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s chief of staff, said the shelling struck a residential building overnight.
“People were sleeping at home, but for terrorists, residential buildings are also ‘military targets,'” he said.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of a “terrorist act” for allegedly firing on civilians near the border.
“They infiltrated the border area and opened fire on civilians. They saw it was a civilian car, that there were children in it. They still fired on it,” he said.
Bryansk Gov. Alexander Bogomaz said in a Telegram message that the attackers fired out of a moving car, killing one person and injuring a 10-year-old child.
Russian officials also claimed a group of “Ukrainian nationalists” have taken six hostages in the Bryansk region, according to the official state Tass news agency.
“The Russian Volunteer Corps went to Bryansk region to show their compatriots that there is hope, that free Russian people with weapons in their hands can fight the regime,” a group claiming to be the Russian Volunteer Corps said in a Telegram message.
Ukrainian officials denied the claims.
“The story about Ukrainian sabotage group in Russian Federation is a classic deliberate provocation. Russian Federation wants to scare its people to justify the attack on another country and the growing poverty after the year of war. The partisan movement in Russian Federation is getting stronger and more aggressive. Fear your partisans,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolyak tweeted Thursday.
Ukraine has sent reinforcements to the frontline city of Bakhmut, according to Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minster Hannah Maliar.
The Russian military and its Wagner mercenary group allies have suffered massive losses in repeated attempts to take Bakhamut. Ukrainian losses are also believed to be staggering, though Ukraine does not release full casualty figures.
In a televised address Tuesday, Zelensky said “the most difficult situation is still Bakhmut.”
Ukrainian officials have publicly discussed the possibility of a withdrawal though there is no indication that such a withdrawal has started.