Putin launches 'most intense missile strikes ever' on Ukraine as new assault 'BEGINS' sparking country-wide raid sirens | The Sun

RUSSIAN forces unleashed 17 missiles on Ukraine in just one hour today as Vladimir Putin appeared to launch his brutal all-out offensive.

Air raid sirens blared across Ukraine for hours as Vlad's troops blasted the country with a massive wave of drone and missile strikes.

The bombardment is feared to be an effort by Putin to soften up Ukraine's defences ahead of a massive ground attack to coincide with the first anniversary of the war on February 24.

Moscow stepped up its attacks in Ukraine's south and east, with Kyiv's military intelligence agency confirming a new assault has begun in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Missiles rained down on the cities of Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia overnight, wiping out power supplies.

Kyiv was also rocked by at least three explosions on Friday morning – with missile debris crashing down onto electricity networks.

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National grid operation confirmed power stations in the east, south and the west of Ukraine were hit.

Ukraine's air force said "the enemy" had deployed seven Iranian-made drones, six Kalibr cruise missiles and "up to 35 anti-aircraft guided missiles".

Officials have urged residents not to ignore the air raid sirens as Russian pummels the country.

Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv's military administration, warned: "There is a big threat of the missile attack.

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"I want to stress again – do not ignore the air alert sirens."

Popko said Tu-95 strategic bombers were in the air over the city – which carry cruise missiles.

Putin's forces also launched multiple strikes in Zaporizhzhia – targeting energy infrastructure.

Acting Mayor Anatolii Kurtiev said at least 17 missiles smashed into the city in just one hour on Friday morning – making it the most intense period of attacks since the start of the war.

The number is casualties and the scale of destruction is not yet known.

Russian troops also blasted critical infrastructure in Kharviv – Ukraine's second largest city.

Mayor Ihor Terekhov said the missiles ripped through the city at around 4am – and warned the strikes could disrupt power, heating and water supplies.

"The occupiers hit critical infrastructure. There were about 10 explosions," Oleh Synehubov, the governor of Kharkiv added.

He said seven people were injured in the attack at 10.30am local time.

Critical infrastructure was also hit Khmelnitskyi in western Ukraine and the Dnipropetrovsk region in the centre of the country, regional officials said.

Asked if he thought Putin's offensive had already begun, Pavlo Krylenko, governor of the eastern Donetsk region, told Ukrainian television: "Yes, definitely."

A top Ukrainian general said two Russian missiles had also crossed into Romanian and Moldovan airspace before entering Ukraine on Friday.

Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine's armed forces, said two Kaliber missiles were launched from the Black Sea.

Ukraine has been monitoring the Russian military build up as they continue to plea for Western support – including during Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to London.

Vlad's initial assault last February saw his forces storm towards Kyiv before they were thrown by back the Ukrainians.

Ukraine then went on the counteroffensive, liberating huge swathes of the country from the disorganised Russians.

The conflict slowed down over the winter.

And in recent weeks it has been reported the Russians were beginning to make gains.

Putin likely will be seeking some sort of major triumph or new operation to mark the anniversary – with his future now tied to the success or failure of the war in Ukraine.

Russia has hundreds of thousands of soldiers, thousands of tanks, and hundreds of warplanes on standby for the new assault, Ukraine warned.

The new assault is feared to be "much bigger" than the first wave which stormed across the country towards Kyiv almost exactly one year ago.

Ukrainian intelligence has put the figure for the spring offensive at between 300,000 and 500,000 soldiers.

Russia is believed to be massing 1,800 tanks, 3,950 armoured vehicles, 400 fighter jets and 300 helicopters for the attack, according to a Ukrainian official.

They added Putin is also gathering 2,700 artillery guns and 810 rocket launchers for a "new wave of attacks", Foreign Policy reports.

"It’s much bigger than what took place in the first wave," the official said.

"They are not paying attention to any casualties or losses. In the next 10 days, we expect a new, huge invasion."

But Pentagon officials said new Russian troops are "ill-equipped, ill-trained" and they have been "rushed" towards the frontline.

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Kyiv fears Putin could also stage a new round of mobilisation to further bolster his forces for the assault.

Western analysts and Ukrainian officials have been warning for weeks about a brewing offensive in the country's East.

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