Russia ramps up strikes in Ukraine amid counterattacks: NPR

Ukrainian artillery shells towards Russian forces on the front line in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

Evgeniy Maloletka / AP

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Evgeniy Maloletka / AP

Ukrainian artillery shells towards Russian forces on the front line in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

Evgeniy Maloletka / AP

Kyiv, Ukraine (AFP) – Russian forces on Thursday launched massive missile strikes on the Ukrainian regions of Kyiv and Chernihiv, two areas that have not been targeted for weeks, while Ukrainian officials announced an operation to liberate an occupied area in the south of the country.

The governor of the Kyiv region, Oleksiy Kuleba, said on Telegram that a settlement in the region’s Vyshgorod district was targeted in the early hours of Thursday morning. The Infrastructure Object was infected. It was not immediately clear if there were any injuries.

Vyshgorod is located 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) north of Kyiv city centre. Kuleba linked the strikes to the State Day, which Ukraine celebrates for the first time on Thursday.

“Russia, with the help of missiles, takes revenge on the large-scale popular resistance, which the Ukrainians were able to organize precisely because of the establishment of their state,” Kuleba told Ukrainian television. “Ukraine has already broken Russia’s plans and will continue to defend itself.”

Chernihiv Governor Vyacheslav Chaos reported that multiple missiles were fired from Belarusian territory at the village of Honcharevska.

Russian forces withdrew from the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions months ago after failing to capture either. The renewed strikes on the regions come a day after the leader of the pro-Kremlin separatists in the east, Denis Pushlin, publicly called on Russian forces to “liberate the Russian cities founded by the Russian people – Kyiv, Chernihiv, Poltava, Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk., Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhya, Lutsk.”

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, was also bombarded overnight. The southern city of Mykolaiv was also shot, one person was wounded.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army continued its counterattack in the occupied southern Kherson region, shelling a major bridge over the Dnieper River on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Ukrainian media quoted Ukrainian presidential advisor Oleksiy Aristovich as saying that the operation to liberate Kherson had “already begun”. Aristovich said Kyiv’s forces were planning to isolate the Russian forces there and leave them with three options – “retreat, if possible, surrender or destroy.”

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said in televised remarks on Wednesday that he was “cautious” in assessing the timetable for a possible counterattack. “I would really like it to be much faster,” he said, adding that “the enemy is now concentrating the largest number (of forces) specifically in the direction of Kherson.”

“A very large-scale movement of their troops has begun, and they are gathering additional forces,” warned Danilov.

The British military estimated Thursday that the Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kherson was “gaining momentum”.

“It is highly likely that their forces have erected a bridgehead south of the Ingolets River that forms the northern boundary of the Russian-occupied city of Kherson,” the British Ministry of Defense said on Thursday.

She added that Ukraine had used its new long-range artillery to destroy at least three bridges across the Dnieper River, “on which Russia relies to supply the areas under its control”. The British Ministry of Defense concluded that the 1,000-meter Antonevsky Bridge, which was struck by Ukrainian forces on Wednesday, was likely to be “unusable”.

The Ukrainian presidential office said, on Thursday morning, that the Russian bombing of cities and villages during the past 24 hours had killed at least five civilians, all of them in the eastern Donetsk region, and wounded nine others.

Fighting in recent weeks has focused on the Donetsk region. Fighting has intensified in recent days, with Russian forces apparently emerging from a reported “operational hiatus” after capturing the neighboring Luhansk region.

A missile hit an apartment building in Turitsk early Thursday morning, destroying two floors. “Rocket terrorism is again. We will not surrender … We will not be afraid,” Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kirilenko said in Telegram.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War believe that Russian forces are concentrating their efforts on capturing the cities of Bakhmut and Seversk in Donetsk Province.

“Russian forces have allocated sufficient resources to launch almost daily ground attacks and seize territory on these two axes, but they have not been able to maintain the pace of similar offensive operations or achieve similar territorial gains elsewhere in Ukraine,” the institute said.

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