Los Angeles Times

Russia targets Ukraine’s Black Sea regions

Missiles strike Odesa and Mykolaiv despite agreements for grain shipments to resume.

- By Susie Blann Blann writes for the Associated Press.

KYIV, Ukraine — Russia targeted Ukraine’s southern Black Sea regions of Odesa and Mykolaiv with airstrikes Tuesday, hitting private buildings and port infrastruc­ture with missiles fired from long-range bomber aircraft, the Ukrainian military said.

In the Odesa region, buildings in coastal villages were hit and caught fire, Ukraine’s Operationa­l Command South said on Facebook. A Ukrainian air force spokesman said long-range Russian Tu-22M3 bombers and Su-30 and Su-35 fighter jets launched the strikes from the Black Sea. In the Mykolaiv region, port infrastruc­ture was targeted despite agreements intended to allow grain shipments to resume from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Hours after the strikes, a Moscow-installed official in southern Ukraine said the Odesa and Mykolaiv regions would soon be “liberated” by Russian forces, just like the already occupied Kherson region farther east.

“The Kherson region and the city of Kherson have been liberated forever,” Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted the region’s Kremlin-appointed official, Kirill Stremousov, as saying.

Meanwhile, Russia’s top diplomat repeated his insistence that Moscow was ready to hold talks with Ukraine on ending the war, though he once again claimed that Kyiv’s Western allies oppose a deal.

“We never refused to have talks, because everybody knows that any hostilitie­s end at the negotiatin­g table,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday

during a trip to Uganda.

He said negotiatio­ns have gone no further since a meeting between the two sides in Istanbul at the end of March.

While Ukrainian officials have spoken of a possible counteroff­ensive in the south, the British Defense Ministry said Tuesday that there was no indication a Ukrainian warship and a stockpile of anti-ship missiles were at Odesa’s port, as Moscow claimed when it struck the facility over the weekend.

The British ministry said Russia sees Ukraine’s use of anti-ship missiles as “a key threat” limiting its Black Sea fleet.

“This has significan­tly undermined the overall invasion

plan, as Russia cannot realistica­lly attempt an amphibious assault to seize Odesa,” the ministry said. “Russia will continue to prioritize efforts to degrade and destroy Ukraine’s antiship capability.”

It added that “Russia’s targeting processes are highly likely routinely undermined by dated intelligen­ce, poor planning, and a top-down approach to operations.”

In other military developmen­ts, Russian shelling over the previous 24 hours killed at least three civilians and wounded eight more in Ukraine, the Ukrainian president’s office said Tuesday.

In the eastern region of Donetsk, where the fighting has been focused in recent

months, shelling continued along the entire front line, with Russian forces targeting some of the region’s largest cities — Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Toretsk — the presidenti­al office said.

Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko accused Russian troops of using cluster munitions and repeated his call for civilians to evacuate.

“There is not a single safe place left. Everything is being shelled,” he said in televised remarks. “But there are still evacuation routes for the civilian population.”

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington­based think tank, reported that Moscow was using mercenarie­s from the shadowy Wagner Group to capture

the Vuhledar power plant on the northern outskirts of the Bakhmut region village of Novoluhans­k.

But Russian forces have made “limited gains” there, according to the Ukrainian military’s general staff.

Moscow’s main regional focus for the moment is on capturing Bakhmut, which the Russian military needs to press its offensive on the Ukrainian stronghold­s in Donetsk, the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

“Russian forces made marginal gains south of Bakhmut but are unlikely to be able to effectivel­y leverage these advances to take full control of Bakhmut itself,” the institute said.

Russian forces continued to strike civilian infrastruc­ture in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and the surroundin­g region in the country’s northeast.

Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Sinegubov said the strikes on the city resumed around dawn Tuesday and damaged a car dealership.

“The Russians deliberate­ly target civilian infrastruc­ture objects — hospitals, schools, movie theaters,” he told Ukrainian television. “Everything is being fired at, even queues for humanitari­an aid, so we’re urging people to avoid mass gatherings.”

The Moldovan Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that a Moldovan citizen was killed and another wounded in what it claimed was a Ukrainian attack on Russia’s border with Ukraine. The unconfirme­d report said the attack occurred at a border checkpoint in Russia’s Bryansk region.

Responding to Lavrov’s comment Monday that Russia’s overarchin­g goal in Ukraine is to free its people from its “unacceptab­le regime,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that Moscow wants “the complete subjugatio­n of Ukraine and its people.”

“We must be prepared for this war — which Russia is conducting with absolute brutality, and is conducting in a way that no one else would — to last months,” Baerbock said during a visit to Prague.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Tuesday that her country has delivered previously announced Mars II multiple-launch rocket systems, along with three more howitzers, to Ukraine. Lambrecht said Germany also has delivered five of a pledged 30 Gepard self-propelled armored antiaircra­ft guns, German news agency DPA reported.

 ?? Michael Shtekel Associated Press ?? APARTMENT buildings on the outskirts of Odesa in southern Ukraine are among the war casualties. Russia also continued its assault on Donetsk in the east, where an official accused Moscow of using cluster munitions.
Michael Shtekel Associated Press APARTMENT buildings on the outskirts of Odesa in southern Ukraine are among the war casualties. Russia also continued its assault on Donetsk in the east, where an official accused Moscow of using cluster munitions.

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