Los Angeles Times

Russia renews strikes on Ukraine regions

Missile fire hits Kyiv and Chernihiv after a lull. Counteratt­acks on Moscow’s forces continue in Kherson.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces on Thursday launched massive missile strikes on Ukraine’s Kyiv and Chernihiv regions, areas that haven’t been targeted in weeks, while Ukrainian officials announced an operation to liberate an occupied region in the country’s south.

Kyiv regional Gov. Oleksiy Kuleba said on the messaging app Telegram that a settlement in the Vyshgorod district of the region was targeted early Thursday morning; an “infrastruc­ture object” was hit. It wasn’t immediatel­y clear whether there were any casualties.

Vyshgorod is about 10 miles north of downtown Kyiv. Kuleba linked the strikes with the Day of Statehood, which Ukraine was marking for the first time on Thursday.

“Russia, with the help of missiles, is mounting revenge for the widespread popular resistance, which the Ukrainians were able to organize precisely because of their statehood,” Kuleba told Ukrainian television. “Ukraine has already broken Russia’s plans and will continue to defend itself.”

Chernihiv Gov. Viacheslav Chaus reported that multiple missiles were fired from Belarusian territory at the village of Honcharivs­ka.

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

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, also came under a barrage of shelling overnight, Mayor Igor Terekhov said. The southern city of Mykolaiv was fired at as well, with one person sustaining injuries.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military continued to counteratt­ack in the occupied southern region of Kherson, striking a key bridge over the Dnieper River on Wednesday.

Ukrainian media on Thursday quoted Ukraine’s presidenti­al advisor, Oleksiy Arestovych, as saying that the operation to liberate Kherson “has already begun.” Arestovych said Kyiv’s forces were planning to isolate Russian troops there and leave them with three options — to “retreat, if possible, surrender or be destroyed.”

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, in televised remarks on Wednesday said he was “cautious” in assessing the timeline of the possible counteroff­ensive.

“I would really like it to be much faster,” he said, adding that “the enemy is now concentrat­ing the maximum number [of forces] precisely in the Kherson direction.”

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

The British military on Thursday estimated that Ukraine’s counteroff­ensive in Kherson is “gathering momentum.”

“Their forces have highly likely establishe­d a bridgehead south of the [Inhulets] River, which forms the northern boundary of Russian-occupied Kherson,” the British Defense Ministry said Thursday.

It added that Ukraine has used its new long-range artillery to damage at least three of the bridges across the Dnieper River, “which Russia relies upon to supply the areas under its control.” The 0.9-mile-long Antonivsky­i Bridge, which Ukrainian forces struck on Wednesday, is likely to be “unusable,” the British ministry concluded.

Ukraine’s presidenti­al office said Thursday morning that Russian shelling of cities and villages over the last 24 hours killed at least five civilians, all of them in the eastern Donetsk region, and wounded nine more.

Fighting in recent weeks has focused on the Donetsk region. It has intensifie­d in recent days as Russian forces appeared to emerge from a reported “operationa­l pause” after capturing the neighborin­g Luhansk region.

A missile struck a residentia­l building in Toretsk early Thursday morning, destroying two floors. “Missile terror again. We will not give up ... We will not be intimidate­d,” Donetsk regional Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.

Analysts with the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, believe that Russian forces are focusing on capturing the cities of Bakhmut and Siversk in Donetsk.

“Russian forces have committed enough resources to conduct neardaily ground assaults and to seize territory on these two axes but have been unable to sustain a similar offensive operationa­l tempo or to make similar territoria­l gains elsewhere in Ukraine,” the institute said.

 ?? Evgeniy Maloletka Associated Press ?? UKRAINIAN artillery targets Russian forces at a front line in the Kharkiv region in the northeast. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, came under a barrage of Russian shelling overnight, Mayor Igor Terekhov said.
Evgeniy Maloletka Associated Press UKRAINIAN artillery targets Russian forces at a front line in the Kharkiv region in the northeast. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, came under a barrage of Russian shelling overnight, Mayor Igor Terekhov said.

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