Russia’s invading armed forces have conducted a second wave of cruise missile strikes on railway infrastructure across Ukraine in as many days, Kyiv claimed on Wednesday evening.

Missile strikes on Tuesday night caused havoc across the rail network, in one of the biggest long-distance bombardments since Moscow’s invasion began on February 24.

The continuing strikes are the latest sign that Moscow is desperate to disrupt the flow of modern weaponry from Ukraine’s western backers as its forces try to seize more territory in the country’s far eastern and southern regions.

Oleksandr Kamyshin, head of Ukraine’s state railways, said on Wednesday that a missile had hit infrastructure in the central city of Dnipro. Video posted on social media showed a missile striking a railway bridge in the city.

As air raid sirens echoed throughout much of the country on Wednesday evening, officials and social media posts pointed to explosions in a town west of Kyiv and in the southern port city Mykolayiv.

“Russia is hitting at our railways to disrupt military assistance supplies,” Ukraine’s centre for strategic communications said in a Facebook post.

“Russia continues shelling railway infrastructure,” added Andriy Yermak, chief of staff in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office.

“We need more weapons, more sanctions, more support. Allies must understand that every hour of doubt is too costly for us in the war for values and freedom,” Yermak continued.

On Tuesday Russia fired 18 cruise missiles at eight regions of Ukraine, including the western city of Lviv where they destroyed or badly damaged three electricity substations powering the rail network, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Ukraine’s air force said the missiles were mostly fired from bombers over the Caspian Sea. Several were intercepted by Ukrainian air defences.

“In order to destroy Ukraine’s transport infrastructure, the Russian enemy fired missiles at facilities in Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad, Lviv, Vinnytsia, Kyiv, Zakarpattia, Odesa and Donetsk oblasts,” Ukraine’s armed forces said.

Nearly 50 trains were delayed by several hours following Tuesday’s attacks.

Russia has stepped up missile attacks on railway infrastructure, including a strike last month on Kramatorsk railway station in eastern Ukraine that killed more than 50 people, and the targeting of five stations last week.

Ukrainian officials said Tuesday’s attacks were aimed at disrupting the flow of weapons from the country’s western backers.

Russia’s bombardment for the first time hit Transcarpathia, a region in Ukraine’s far-west on the border with Hungary.

Fresh supplies of longer range weapons are crucial to helping Ukrainian forces counter Russian advances in the far eastern and southern regions of the country where Moscow has concentrated its efforts of late.

President Zelensky said in his overnight address on Telegram that with its multiple cruise missile strikes Russia was “trying to vent its powerlessness, because they cannot beat Ukraine”.

Ukrainian railways have proved to be a lifeline over the past two months, evacuating millions of civilians, shipping in supplies and bringing international leaders to Kyiv to show solidarity with Zelensky.

UK defence intelligence on Wednesday said that Russia had amassed 22 battalion tactical groups — a combined arms unit of about 800 men — near the town of Izyum in preparation for a fresh advance.

“Despite struggling to break through Ukrainian defences and build momentum, Russia highly likely intends to . . . capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk” in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, it wrote on Twitter.

“Capturing these locations would consolidate Russian military control of the North-eastern Donbas and provide a staging point for their efforts to cut off Ukrainian forces in the region,” UK defence intelligence added.

Since it refocused its offensive on eastern and southern Ukraine at the beginning of April, Russia has only made limited territorial gains. Ukraine’s general staff said it had repulsed 12 enemy attacks in the Donbas region on Tuesday.

Russian and Ukrainian military claims cannot be independently verified.

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