Russian missiles struck three power stations in Lviv late on Tuesday, causing blackouts in the western city, while continuing their offence in the east.
In their latest update, the MoD said: “Russia has deployed 22 battalion tactical groups near Izium in its attempt to advance along the northern axis of the Donbas.
"Despite struggling to break through Ukrainian defences and build momentum, Russia highly likely intends to proceed beyond Izium to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk.
"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.”
Explosions were also heard in Lviv, in western Ukraine, near the Polish border. The strikes damaged three power substations, knocking out electricity in parts of the city and disrupting the water supply, and wounded two people, the mayor said. Lviv has been a gateway for Nato-supplied weapons and a haven for those fleeing the fighting in the east.
Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Russian aircraft and artillery hit hundreds of targets in the past day, including troop strongholds, command posts, artillery positions, fuel and ammunition depots and radar equipment.
Ukrainian authorities said the Russians also attacked at least a half-dozen railroad stations around the country.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, officials and the United Nations say they hope to arrange more evacuations from the bombed-out steel mill in Mariupol.
101 people — including women, the elderly, and 17 children, the youngest six months old — emerged from the bunkers under the Azovstal steelworks to “see the daylight after two months”, said Osnat Lubrani, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine.
It was unclear how many Ukrainian fighters were still inside, but the Russians put the number at about 2,000 in recent weeks, and 500 were reported to be wounded. A few hundred civilians also remained there, Ukrainian deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that by storming the steel mill, Russian forces violated agreements for safe evacuations.