- Ukraine is trying to disrupt supply lines and bomb bridges
- Targeting Russian forces with air strikes
- Russia strikes Kyiv region for the first time in weeks
- ‘Critical’ details in preparation for grain shipments – UN
Kyiv (Reuters) – Ukraine intensified its counterattacks against Russian forces in the south as Moscow bombed the outskirts of Kyiv for the first time in weeks, as Europe’s biggest conflict since World War Two continued with no end in sight.
Kyiv regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram that 15 people were injured when rockets hit military installations in the Vyshhorod region on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital on Thursday.
Air raid sirens sounded as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed parliament alongside visiting Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, as Ukraine marked Ukraine’s State Day with a public holiday for the first time on Thursday.
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“It doesn’t matter what Russia threatens us with; whether it’s air raid sirens or something else, the important thing is to make other countries fall in love with our Ukrainian fortitude,” Zelensky said.
The attack shattered the sense of life returning to normal in Kyiv since Russian forces abandoned attempts to capture the city in the early weeks of the war, in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance.
The region’s governor, Vyacheslav Chusov, told Ukrainian television that more than 10 Russian missiles had hit the city of Chernihiv, 120 km northeast of Kyiv. Like Kyiv, Chernihiv has not been targeted for weeks.
“This was Russia giving greetings on State Sovereignty Day in Ukraine,” he said, adding that there were concerns about a “second stage of the enemy’s ground operations.”
The Northern Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that more than 20 missiles were fired at the Chernihiv region bordering Russia from a base in Belarus, an ally of Russia.
In the south, Ukraine said its planes bombed five Russian strongholds around Kherson and another nearby city, the focus of its largest counterattack since the Russian invasion began on February 24.
The Kherson region, which borders Russia-annexed Crimea, fell into the hands of Russian forces shortly after the start of what Moscow calls a “special military operation”. Ukraine describes Russia’s actions as an imperial-style war of conquest.
Ukraine has used long-range missile systems from the West to severely damage three bridges across the Dnipro River in recent weeks, making it difficult for Russia to supply its forces on the West Bank.
British intelligence said the strategy began to isolate Russian forces in the Kherson region.
“The forty-ninth Russian army stationed on the western bank of the Dnipro River now appears very weak,” she said in an intelligence bulletin.
Kherson was now virtually isolated from the other lands occupied by Russia.
British intelligence said his loss would severely undermine Russia’s attempts to portray the occupation as a success.
Ukraine says it has retaken some small settlements on the northern edge of the region in recent weeks as it tries to push Russian forces back.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its planes attacked a Ukrainian infantry brigade in the far north of the Kherson region, killing more than 130 of its soldiers in the past 24 hours.
Kirill Strimosov, deputy head of the Russian-appointed military and civilian administration that administers the Kherson region, also dismissed Western and Ukrainian assessments of the situation on the battlefield.
Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports.
On Thursday, the Russian Information Agency reported that the Russian security services revealed that a group of Ukrainian agents in Kherson paid them to pass the coordinates of the Russian forces there to Ukraine to target them with artillery.
Vitaly Kim, the governor of the Mykolaiv region, said on Telegram that two people in the southern coastal town of Koblevo exploded in a sea mine while swimming despite the ban.
Russia continues to launch strikes against targets across Ukraine as it attempts to gain control of the entire Donbass industrial region in the east, which includes the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.
Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kirilenko said on Telegram that Russian forces had bombed the town of Bakhmut, which Russia described as a key target in its advance through Donetsk, four times. He added that at least three people were killed and three wounded.
As the fighting raged, international efforts continued to try to reopen Ukrainian ports and allow the export of grain and other goods.
Allowing the safe passage of grain shipments from Ukraine should ease shortages that have left tens of millions of people around the world facing soaring food prices and starvation.
Russia and Ukraine struck a deal last week to lift a ban on grain exports from Black Sea ports, but UN aid coordinator Martin Griffiths said “critical” details of safe passage for ships were still being worked out.
Griffiths had hoped the first shipment of grain would be shipped from a Ukrainian port on the Black Sea as early as Friday. Read more
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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Grant McCall and Stephen Coates; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Lincoln Fest.
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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