Ukraine attacks occupied Melitopol, Russian side says two killed

Ukraine attacked the occupied Melitopol in the southeast of the country on Saturday evening, the Ukrainian authorities of the strategically located city installed and exiled by Russia said.

Pro-Moscow authorities said two people were killed and 10 wounded in the rocket attack, and the exiled mayor said scores of “invaders” were killed.

Reuters could not independently verify reports of attacks or deaths.

“Air defense systems destroyed two missiles, four hit their targets,” Yevgenijs Balickis, the Moscow-appointed governor of the occupied Zaporozhye region, said on the Telegram messaging app.

He said that a “recreation center” where people were eating was destroyed during the Ukrainian HIMARS missile attack.

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Exiled mayor Ivan Fyodorov said on his Telegram channel that the attack hit a church that the Russians had turned into a gathering place.

Vladimir Rogov, another Moscow official in the Russian-controlled part of Zaporozhye, said a large fire engulfed the recreation center after the strike. He posted a video of the burning structure.

The HIMARS multiple rocket launchers were among Ukraine’s most effective weapons in the war, accurately hitting hundreds of targets, including Russian command posts. The US said on Friday it was sending more aid to Kiev to bolster its air defenses and defeat drones.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that its air defense forces shot down five HIMARS missiles near the cities of Donetsk and Melitopol in the past 24 hours.

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Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Melitopol, a major industrial and transport hub that Russia has occupied since March, is critical to the defense of the south.

“All logistics connecting Russian forces in the eastern part of the Kherson region and all the way to the Russian border near Mariupol are run through it,” Arestovich said in a video interview on social media.

“If Melitopolis falls, the entire defense line will collapse all the way to Kherson. Ukrainian forces gain a direct route to Crimea.”

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The Ukrainian military did not immediately comment on the attacks. Earlier in the day, the Central Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced that it was attacking Melitopol.

Russia’s Defense Ministry also said its forces continued offensive operations near the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region and repelled Ukrainian counterattacks. The Russian Ministry uses the Russian name of the city, Krasny Liman.

Reporting by Nick Starkov in Kiev; By Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Edited by William Mallard and Alex Richardson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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