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Kyiv is hit by missiles — a day after sinking a Russian war ship

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Russian warship, Moskva, sunk in the Black Sea this week. The Pentagon says Ukrainian missiles hit the vessel. But Russia is still preparing a renewed assault on the eastern part of Ukraine. NPR's Eyder Peralta is in Dnipro in Ukraine's east. Eyder, thanks for being with us.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Hey there, Scott.

SIMON: And, I gather, an attack this morning in Kyiv - what do we know about what happened?

PERALTA: So the strike appears to have hit a military hardware factory. And the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, says that rescue workers are on the scene. The capital Kyiv has been relatively quiet since Russian troops pulled out of the northern suburbs. But the mayor is warning that this fight is not over. He's telling residents to take shelter when they hear air raid sirens and that they should not come back to the city because he believes that the Russians will at some point circle back. But look, Scott, in the past couple of days, fighting continues across the country - in Poltava, not far from here. A man was reported killed by a missile strike in Kharkiv, where I just came from. There's shelling every day. And the fighting is intensifying in the Donbas region in the east, and here in Dnipro, the air raid sirens haven't stopped all night and all day.

SIMON: Eyder, what appears to be the Russian strategy with fighting in so many places around the country?

PERALTA: At this point, there doesn't seem to be a lot of movement of the front lines. I just came back from Kharkiv, and there is shelling day and night, but the Ukrainian military isn't moving north and the Russians are sort of just sitting there, lobbing shells into the northern part of the city. I sat down with the deputy head of the Kharkiv Regional State, Roman Semenukha, and I asked him what he thought of that Russian strategy. Let's listen.

ROMAN SEMENUKHA: (Through interpreter) If they had a goal to take electricity out of the city, they would aim for only, like, electrician stations or something like that, to the critical infrastructure points. We have no logic in that. They don't do it.

PERALTA: So, you know, instead, he says shells are hitting everything - the roads, schools, homes, businesses. He says that the Russians are maintaining those positions to keep Ukrainian forces occupied in multiple fronts.

SIMON: And what do we know about the long column of Russian military equipment reportedly headed to the southeast of Ukraine?

PERALTA: I asked Semenukha about that, and he says that the Ukrainian military hit that column earlier this week. But he believes that they are headed to a city called Izium, and that's part of his territory. And he thinks that that is where the heaviest fighting will happen next. Let's listen.

SEMENUKHA: (Through interpreter) The battle for Izium - they say that it means not only like we are losing our ongoing battle to Kharkiv, but it's going to be pretty much the battle for the whole Donbas.

PERALTA: He says that city is super important for the Russians because if they can take it, they can encircle Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, or they can move to Dnipro, where I am, to expand their territorial control in the east. So in the coming days, that is likely the battle to watch.

SIMON: And what did you see in Kharkiv, from which you've just come out?

PERALTA: It's pretty bad. There's a ton of shelling. But most people have left. I went to an emergency room, and the medical director there said that at the beginning they were getting a lot of casualties, but that has slowed down significantly because so few people remain. And that's a blessing, she said. But also, when it comes time to rebuild, it's going to make that harder.

SIMON: NPR's Eyder Peralta in Dnipro, eastern Ukraine. Eyder, thanks so much. Stay safe.

PERALTA: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.