The Ukrainian General Staff announced in a statement that its forces responded to more than 100 Russian attacks within one day on the fronts of Bakhmot, Liman, Avdievka, Marinka and Shakhtar in eastern Ukraine, and the central and eastern regions of the country were attacked using Iranian drones, while Russian President Vladimir Putin began a visit to Crimea on the ninth anniversary of its annexation of his country.

The commission confirmed that Russian forces continue attempts to advance towards the Donetsk, Lugansk and Pakhmut provinces, noting that Russian forces launched 34 air strikes in the past few hours.

More than 60 towns in Donetsk and Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, and Kherson in the south of the country, also witnessed Russian missile and artillery shelling, according to the statement.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuri Ignat said that Russian forces attacked the central and eastern regions of Ukraine last night with 16 Iranian "Shahed" drones, of which Ukrainian defenses managed to shoot down 11 drones.

According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the attack was launched from the Sea of Azov and Russia's Bryansk region bordering Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military administration in Dnipropetrovsk (southeast) said two drones targeted a facility it described as sensitive in Novo Moskovsk, northeast of the province.

S-300 missile attacks

In the southeastern Ukrainian province of Zaporizhia, the Ukrainian military administration said Russian forces targeted the city at dawn on Saturday with S-300 missiles and damaged a residential complex.

In Pakhmot, eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian border guards broadcast images that they said were of their forces bombing Russian troop positions in the city, and drone video images show a bombing that hit a house on the outskirts of Bakhmot, where a group of Russian troops are stationed.

For its part, the Russian Ministry of Defense published a video clip that it said was of an attack carried out by a Russian suicide drone of the type "Lancet", targeting a missile system of the Ukrainian army stationed in a field in the axis of Afdiivka, and the clip shows the explosion that occurred in the missile system as a result of the strike carried out by the drone.

Russian accusations

On the other hand, the Russian RIA Novosti news agency said that the Ukrainian army is using civilians as human shields inside the city of Oglidar, which Russian forces have been trying to storm for months in the southern axis of the city of Donetsk.

The agency published photos it said were taken by Russian special forces from the air, showing the movement of Ukrainian military vehicles inside the city's neighborhoods, fortifications and trenches set up by the Ukrainian army near residential buildings, in addition to the deployment of heavy vehicles in the middle of civilian homes.

In the province of Zaporizhia, Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Russian military and civilian administration in the province, said dozens of foreign militants and mercenaries were killed in a Russian strike that targeted a makeshift shelter for foreign mercenaries in the city center.

Rogoff revealed that among the dead in the Russian attack were mercenaries from Britain, Poland and the United States, and foreign military trainers and experts, as the complex was considered one of the most important bases for elite forces.

This comes as the founder of the Russian Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said that the group plans to employ 30,<> fighters, by mid-May.

Prigozhin had earlier said the group had opened recruitment centers in 42 Russian cities, employing 500 to 800 people a day.

U.S., Ukraine meeting

In a related context, a statement by the Ukrainian presidency said that the head of the presidential office and the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces held a video conference with the US national security adviser, the US defense minister and the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss military assistance to Kiev.

The statement added that Ukrainian officials informed their American counterparts about combat operations on the most difficult fronts, the urgent needs of the Ukrainian army, and discussed providing more assistance to Ukraine, especially vehicles, weapons and ammunition.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky joined the meeting to present his views on the recovery of Ukrainian territory seized by Russia.

On Friday, Slovakia joined Poland as the second NATO member state to decide to send fighter jets to Ukraine, with Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger announcing that his country had agreed to send 13 Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.

Slovak Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad said it would take a few weeks to send the fighters to Kiev.

Polish President Andrzej Duda announced on Thursday that his country would deliver in the coming days a first batch of 4 fighters of the same model to Ukraine.

Putin visits Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin began a visit to Crimea on the ninth anniversary of its annexation, and state television showed a short clip showing Putin dressed in casual clothes and walking with a group of officials.

On a surprise trip to Sevastopol, the main port of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, Putin visited an art school accompanied by local governor Mikhail Razujaev, according to images broadcast by Russia-1 television.

On the other hand, the director of the office of the Ukrainian president said that Crimea is Ukrainian territory, stressing that his country will restore it with the help of international support.

Historically, Crimea has been at the center of regional disputes and conflicts since ancient times, due to its strategic importance. It is located in southern Ukraine between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, separated from Russia by the Kerch Strait, and has an entrance to the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits through the Marmara and Aegean Seas to the Mediterranean, and its area is 27 thousand square kilometers.

The majority of Crimea's population is of Russian nationality, with more than 58%, followed by Ukrainians with 24%, and Crimean Tatars with 12%.

Russia declared Crimea annexed Crimea in 2014 after the Russian-majority region voted to join Russia in a referendum deemed illegal by Ukraine and the West.

Crimea, as it has been for centuries, is of strategic importance to Russia as it is its only gateway to the warm waters of the Black Sea and home to the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.