The Daily Telegraph

Himars rockets bombard Russian headquarte­rs in Kherson

- By Joe Barnes

‘I’m alive, and back at work. We are tallying our staff ’

‘There was smoke and ringing in my ears. I came round when someone pulled me out. A young guy dragged me from the ruins’

UKRAINE yesterday struck Russia’s headquarte­rs in occupied Kherson with a barrage of long-range Himars missiles during a meeting of top officials.

Video footage filmed in the aftermath of the strike showed smoke billowing from the roof of the Court of Appeal in the centre of the city, while citizens fled the area.

Pro-kremlin collaborat­ors had been meeting in the venue, which served as the headquarte­rs of the Moscow-installed occupation authoritie­s in the area, when the rockets hit, according to Russian state media.

Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-installed deputy leader of Kherson, said the Ukrainian strike directly hit his office, with five Us-provided Himars rockets smashing into the area.

The attack appeared to mark a shift in Kyiv’s strategy, striking hard at the civilian command hubs of occupation forces that have so far been spared from targeting with long-range munitions.

It came as an explosion in the city of Luhansk killed the prosecutor general of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, the Moscow-backed separatist movement in the eastern Donbas.

Western officials have claimed one of the “unheralded successes” of the recent counter-offensives, across the Kherson and Kharkiv regions, had been disrupting Moscow’s Russificat­ion attempts in its occupied territorie­s.

Alla Barkhatnov­a, the Kremlin-installed labour minister for Kherson, was injured in the blast, but made a lucky escape when she was shielded from shrapnel by a co-worker. Her driver was one of the collaborat­ors killed, she added.

Ukraine’s armed forces refused to take credit for the strike, which was branded a “vile act of terror” by prorussian officials in the city.

Despite Ukrainian silence, the strike appeared to use precise intelligen­ce of the meeting, which was attended by Kremlin-installed military and civilian officials from across the southern region, and Us-provided Himars, which can hit targets at a range of 50 miles.

“There was smoke and ringing in my ears. I came round when someone pulled me out. A young guy dragged me from the ruins. I’m alive, and back at work.

“We are tallying our staff,” Eketerina Gubareva, the deputy head of Kherson’s Russian-controlled city hall, who was caught up in the blast, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

The Russian-appointed deputy mayor of Berdyansk, in the southern Zaporizhzh­ia region, and his wife, who was in charge of organising a referendum to join the Russian Federation, were also assassinat­ed near their home.

Oleg Boyko and his wife, Lyudmila, became the fourth and fifth pro-russian victims when they were killed yesterday in a blast near to their garage, according to local officials.

The attacks will likely unnerve Russia’s local proxies in the war-torn country as pro-kremlin officials are increasing­ly targeted by Ukraine’s armed forces and pro-kyiv partisans.

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