KYIV, Ukraine — Russian missiles hit towns and villages in eastern and southern Ukraine on Tuesday, hitting homes, a school and a community center.
In Kramatorsk, a town in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province considered a likely target for Russian occupation, one person was killed and 10 injured in an airstrike that hit a building of five floors, said regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.
Fresh blood stained the concrete amid green leaves that were torn from trees as neighboring apartments on at least two floors burned. Shrapnel was placed in a small pile near an empty playground.
“There was no one here. Everything is in ruins,” said Halyna Maydannyk, a resident of a burned apartment. “Who knows why they do this? We all lived in peace.
Kramatorsk residents Mykola Zavodovskyi and Tetiana Zavodovska stood in bandages outside a hospital. They heard a loud bang and went to their balcony to investigate, then everything exploded and the windows shattered.
“It was probably a rocket, and it was probably shot down by Ukrainian forces,” Zavodovska said.
The midday strike came after Kyrylenko reported four earlier Russian strikes in Kramatorsk and urged civilians to evacuate.
In the Odessa region of southern Ukraine, Russian forces fired seven Kalibr cruise missiles overnight. The Russian Defense Ministry said the strikes on the village of Bilenke had achieved a legitimate military objective and “destroyed ammunition depots for weapons supplied by the United States and European countries”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy disputed Moscow’s claim and said six people were injured, including a 5-month-old girl.
“What did they touch? Zelenskyy asked in his nightly video address Tuesday. “Ordinary rural land and a farm without work, rural houses, outbuildings, a high school, a cultural center. No military sense. Just terror.”
With indications that Ukraine is planning counterattacks to retake occupied areas, the Russian military has in recent weeks targeted Odessa and parts of southern Ukraine where its troops captured towns earlier in the war.
To the east, Ukrainian forces are fighting to keep the declining territory under their control. Donetsk has been cut off from gas supplies and partly from water and electricity as the Russians attempt to complete their takeover of the province.
Russia’s ground advance has slowed, partly because Ukraine is using more effective US weapons and partly because of what Putin called an “operational pause.” Russia is focusing more on aerial bombardment using long-range missiles.
“The infrastructure of cities is methodically destroyed by missile strikes, and the civilian population, cut off from the bare necessities, suffers the most,” Kyrylenko said.
Russian officials based in the southern region of Kherson, under Moscow’s control since the start of the war, said Ukrainian forces damaged the only bridge in the city of Kherson over the Dnipro River, east of Odessa. Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Kremlin-backed administration of the Kherson region, told Russia’s Interfax news agency that Ukrainian forces used US-made rocket launchers to damage the bridge in a bid to cut Kherson from the left bank of the Dnipro.
Ukrainian officials have spoken of counter-offensive plans to retake Kherson and other southern Ukrainian territories from the Russians.
Serhiy Khlan, an official with Ukraine’s Kherson region administration, tacitly confirmed the strike on Ukrainian television, reporting “a precise hit” and an explosion in the area of the bridge.
Also in the Kherson region, Ukraine claimed to have used anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down a Russian Su-35 fighter jet that had planned to attack its planes.
Multiple ground videos posted to social media showed a plane crashing into the evening sky on Tuesday near Nova Kakhovka, blazing and belching gray and black smoke as it descended and crashed into the ground, at least some pieces in a green field. According to Ukrainian reports, the pilot ejected and showed that a helicopter was looking for him.
Russian officials did not immediately confirm the shooting. Little information emerged during the war about air battles.
Kherson – home to a major shipbuilding industry at the confluence of the Dnieper and the Black Sea near Russia’s annexed Crimea – is one of several areas a US government spokesman said Russia was trying to annex.
After months of local rumors and announcements of a Russian referendum, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday that US intelligence officials had amassed “a lot” of new evidence. that Russia was officially planning to annex additional territory to Ukraine and that it could organize a public “sham”. vote in September. Russia is eyeing Kherson as well as all of the Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts.
“Russia is preparing the ground to annex Ukrainian territory it controls in direct violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty,” Kirby said in Washington.
Kirby also said the White House is expected to announce additional military aid to Ukraine later this week. The aid is expected to include more high-mobility artillery rocket systems, a critical weapon that Ukrainian forces are successfully using in their fight to repel Russian troops.
On the ground, Ukraine and Russia continued their sporadic exchanges of bodies of fallen soldiers. Each side gave the bodies of the remaining 45 soldiers in the Zaporizhzhia region. Russian news agency Ria-Novosti said on Tuesday that the soldiers were killed in Mariupol, the Sea of Azov city that has drawn worldwide attention due to a week-long siege of a steelworks.
At least two civilians have been killed and 15 injured by Russian shelling across Ukraine in the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s presidential office said in an update Tuesday morning.
As Russian missiles hit towns 497 miles away on Tuesday, “there remains a high level of threat from missile strikes throughout Ukrainian territory,” said Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesman for the General Staff of the Forces. Ukrainian armies.
The missile strikes came as the British military said it believed Russia was struggling to maintain its manpower in its bitter war of attrition which began with the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. .
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in an assessment on Tuesday that Russia “has struggled to maintain effective offensive combat power since the invasion began, and this problem is likely to become increasingly acute” as Moscow seeks to conquer the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.
The British Army added: “Although Russia may still make further territorial gains, her operational tempo and pace of advance will likely be very slow without a significant operational pause for reorganization and refit.”
In other developments on Tuesday, Ukraine’s parliament approved Zelensky’s dismissal of Ivan Bakanov as head of the country’s security services and the Ukrainian leader on Tuesday finalized the dismissal of Iryna Venediktova, who was Ukraine’s chief prosecutor. . As part of the reshuffle resulting from alleged collaboration with Russian authorities, Zelenskyy also sacked six other security service officials on Tuesday.
Information for this article was provided by Cara Anna of The Associated Press.
Gallery: Images from Ukraine, month 5