Increased Russian aerial assaults on Ukrainian cities and towns have killed at least 70 Ukrainian civilians since the outset of Ukraine’s summer offensive – and more towns are now being impacted.

In response to Ukraine’s battlefield-shaping and counteroffensive efforts since early May, Russia has stepped up use of its superior air and artillery power to cause death, destruction, psychological terror and emotional trauma on a broader spread of Ukrainian population settlements, a Kyiv Post analysis of UN data has revealed.

This strategy of intentionally massacring Ukrainian civilians across more places has been conducted using guided aerial bombs, hypersonic cruise missiles, Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) such as “Grads,” and conventional artillery shelling.

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The “death from the sky” strategy has become increasingly elaborate as well. Russia is now often combining different weapons launched from different directions and in different sequences to stretch Ukraine’s finite air defense resources as much as possible and find gaps in cover.

For example, a typical Russian aerial assault can now consist of simultaneously releasing Shahed Iranian drones from north of Ukraine and Kalibr missiles from Russian jet bombers over the Black Sea, while “Grads” and artillery pound border regions.

Additionally, Russia appears to be increasingly directing its attacks at “more provincial” and smaller cities, such as Kramatorsk and Uman, and those farther from the established front, such as Lviv in western Ukraine and Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine.

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Last week, Lviv was hit by what its mayor called the “biggest” attack on the city since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Targeting has also become more accurate through Russian improvements in using drone technology and other means.

This has led to high concentrations of Ukrainian dead and injured across a wide range of locales, including:

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·      23 people killed by a Russian missile strike on a residential neighborhood in Uman (Uman region) in late April;

·      13 people, including 3 teenagers and a leading writer, killed by a Russian missile strike on a Kramatorsk (central Donetsk region) pizza restaurant and retail district on June 28;

·      13 people killed by a Russian missile strike on a Kryvyi Rih (Dnipropetrovsk region) residential neighborhood on June 13;

·      10 people killed by a Russian missile strike on a residential neighborhood in Lviv (Lviv region) on July 6;

·      8 people were killed by Russian artillery shelling of Lyman (Donetsk region) on July 7;

·      7 people killed by a Russian missile strike on Orikhiv (western Zaporizhzhia region) during a humanitarian distribution on July 9;

·      5 people killed by Russian artillery shelling on 9 rural communities in Sumy region on July 3;

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·      3 people killed by a Russian drone attack on a residential neighborhood in Sumy (Sumy region) on July 3;

·      2 people killed by Russian shelling on Avdiivka and Hostre (central Donetsk region) on July 10;

·      2 people killed by a Russian missile strike on a medical facility and veterinarian clinic in Dnipro (Dnipropetrovsk region) on May 26.

From July 2022 to June 2023, an average of 123 Ukrainian population settlements per month have borne casualties from Russian aerial assaults, UN data shows.

During May and June, Kyiv Post has determined that the number of communities impacted increased by 26 percent and 10 percent respectively. May was the month with the greatest number of impacted communities: 155. June saw the third most.

This attests to the updated Russian terror tactic of more broadly distributing aerial assaults beyond Ukraine’s major cities.

From February 24, 2022, the start of the full-scale invasion by the Russian Federation, to June 30, 2023, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 25,170 overall civilian casualties in 1,504 settlements of Ukraine, including 9,177 killed and 15,993 injured.

Of those casualties, among adults whose sex was known, men comprised 61 percent and women 39 percent. Of those casualties among children whose sex was known, boys comprised 57.2 percent and girls 42.8 percent.

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In terms of regions, Donetsk has paid the highest price by far during Russia’s full-scale invasion with more than 12,000 civilian casualties in some 360 population settlements.

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