The return of basic military training in Russia's secondary schools highlights an increasingly militarized atmosphere in Russia, the British Defense Ministry said Sunday in its daily intelligence update on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The training for secondary schools becomes mandatory in September. Russia announced similar mandatory training for university students in December.
The return of the military curriculum into Russian schools, the British ministry said, is likely a deliberate "evocation of the Soviet Union" which had a similar military curriculum for schools.
On Saturday, a Russian missile strike on a city in the eastern region of Donetsk killed at least three people as Ukrainian forces engaged Russian troops in ferocious battles in several hot spots in the east, where Moscow has been pressing its offensive with increased urgency amid Western pledges of modern tank deliveries for Kyiv.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used the occasion to press Western partners to supply his nation with long-range precision missiles, known as ATACMS, to reduce Russia's ability to target cities.
"It would be possible to stop this Russian terror if we could source the appropriate missiles for our military forces," Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Saturday.
Earlier, Zelenskyy had said major battles were underway for Vuhledar and Bakhmut, a town that has been virtually razed by repeated Russian artillery bombardments.
In the Donetsk city of Kostyantynivka, the Russian strike on a residential neighborhood killed three people and wounded at least 14 others, regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.
Factory worker Iryna Maltseva, 42, said she was watching television when the explosion violently rattled her living room.
'I opened my eyes, and everything was blown out,' she said. 'I was covered in blood. Mom was sitting in the bedroom, also covered in blood.'
Kyrylenko said four apartment buildings and a hotel had been damaged and that rescuers and police officials were at the site to 'carefully document yet another crime by the Russian occupiers.'
'Kostyantynivka is a city relatively far from the front line, but still, it constantly suffers from enemy attacks. Everyone who remains in the city exposes themselves to mortal danger,' Kyrylenko said, according to The Associated Press. 'The Russians target civilians because they are not able to fight the Ukrainian army."
Oleksandra Hryhoryna inspects her house, which was damaged by shelling last fall in Kalynivske, Ukraine, Jan. 28, 2023.
The Saturday strikes were the latest in a series by Russian forces to hit Ukrainian civilian targets as Moscow seemingly tries to weaken the nation's resolve.
Ukraine's National Security Council chief, Oleksiy Danilov, told RFE/RL that Moscow was preparing for a new offensive Feb. 24, the anniversary of the Russian invasion.
'Now they are preparing for maximum activation ... and they believe that by the anniversary they should have some achievements,' Danilov said. 'There is no secret that they are preparing for a new wave by February 24, as they themselves say.'
Kirby said Washington anticipates an "intense period of fighting in the coming months,' adding that there is 'no sign' of the war stopping.
Zelenskyy said Friday that Ukraine needs up to 500 tanks.
'We need 300 or 500 tanks now. We need tanks to protect our territory, our land. We need armored vehicles to protect our people, that's all,' he said in an interview with Sky News.
So far, a total of 321 heavy tanks have been promised to Ukraine by several countries, Ukraine's ambassador to France, Vadym Omelchenko, said on BFM television Friday.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also reassured Ukraine of the bloc's unconditional support.
Speaking Saturday in Duesseldorf, Germany, von der Leyen said, 'We stand by Ukraine's side without any ifs and buts.'
Von der Leyen and her fellow EU commissioners plan an EU-Ukraine summit on Feb. 3.
The Kremlin has reacted with fury to the latest gestures of Western solidarity with Ukraine and said it saw the promised delivery of advanced tanks as evidence of escalating 'direct involvement' of the United States and NATO in Russia's war of aggression, something both deny.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.