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Russia Steps Up Aerial Strikes On Ukraine, At Least 6 Killed Amid Kyiv Counteroffensive

Story Highlights
  • According to Ukraine's presidential office, ten towns and villages along the front line in Donetsk have been hit as Kyiv's troops slowly move forward.
  • The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, was supposed to go to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on Wednesday.

Regional Ukrainian officials said that early Wednesday morning, Russian forces fired cruise missiles at the city of Odesa in the south of Ukraine and shelled the Donetsk region in the east. At least six people were killed and dozens of homes were damaged.

A Ukrainian military official said that Russian forces have recently increased the number of airstrikes in their nearly 16-month war. In the early stages of a counteroffensive to take back the nearly 20% of Ukraine’s land that is under Russian control, the country’s armed forces have only made small gains.

Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister, said on Wednesday that the slow, hard-fought Ukrainian push is making progress.

Western analysts and military officials say that it could take years to get rid of big numbers of well-armed, well-entrenched Russian troops.

Maliar said that Ukrainian troops have moved forward 200–500 meters (650–1600 feet) in different parts of the front line around the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk and 300–350 meters (980–1150 feet) in the southern part of the Zaporizhzhia region. Even though Russia has more artillery and planes, she said, Ukrainian troops have been able to make progress.

It was not possible to check out the claims from the battlefield.

As the counteroffensive gets going, a Western source who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk about intelligence said that Ukrainian forces can expect to make slow progress in what will be a “hugely difficult” fight.

“There is now intense fighting going on in almost every part of the front,” the official said. “This is much more than just looking around.” These are large-scale moves of tanks and heavy weapons into the Russian security zone.”

The official said that the attacks by the Ukrainians were planned and that, in general, “Russian forces have put up a good defense.”

The regional government said on Facebook that three workers at a food warehouse in Odessa were killed in a strike that also damaged homes, shops, and bars in the city’s downtown. A total of 13 more people were hurt.

It said that search teams were going through the warehouse’s rubble to see if there were any people still alive.

The attack on the port city came from the Black Sea. It was the second attack in a week. The government said that three of the four Kalibr cruise missiles were shot down by air defenses.

Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko of Donetsk province wrote on Telegram that at least three people had died after fire in the cities of Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka destroyed seven homes and damaged dozens more.

According to Ukraine’s presidential office, ten towns and villages along the front line in Donetsk have been hit as Kyiv’s troops slowly move forward.

The presidential office said that a missile hit the Ukrainian-controlled city of Kramatorsk, where Kyiv’s forces are based. Two people were killed and two others were hurt, and 29 homes were damaged. It also said that 57 homes were injured by the Russian shelling of Kostiantynivka, where one civilian was killed.

Andriy Kovalov, a spokesman for the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces, said that the Russian military increased missile and air strikes as Kyiv’s forces stepped up attacks along the war’s 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line and claimed some small gains at the start of their counteroffensive.

In a meeting, he said that Kh-22 cruise missiles, sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles, and Iranian-made Shahed drones were used in attacks on Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Kirovohrad, as well as on Odessa. Nine of them were caught.

Kovalov said that Ukrainian troops had made progress in several places, and that fighting was still going on in or near at least two communities in Donetsk province.

Britain’s Defense Ministry, which has been keeping the public up to date on the war, said on Twitter that, compared to other parts of the front, southern Ukraine “has often been more permissive for Russian air operations.”

Separately, the mayor of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih said that 12 people had died because of a Russian strike on an apartment building the day before.

After the Kakhovka dam broke last week, Ukrainian officials continued to help people in the flooded areas of southern Ukraine’s Kherson region, which is partly controlled by Russia.

Nearly 2,800 people have been taken to safety so far, and 28 settlements on the western bank of the Dnieper River that is held by Ukraine are still under water, according to the office of the president. The relief work is taking place despite constant Russian shelling.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, was supposed to go to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on Wednesday. However, for security reasons, this trip had to be put off.

He met with Zelenskyy on Tuesday to talk about the dangers that the nuclear plant faces, which got worse after the Kakhovka Dam broke last week.

Since Russia started its war on Ukraine in February 2022 and took the plant soon after, the plant has been caught in the middle of many fights.

The biggest nuclear power plant in Europe is in “a relatively dangerous situation,” the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog told reporters in Kyiv on Tuesday.

The areas of Kherson held by Ukraine have been hit by artillery fire 57 times in the last 24 hours, according to the office of the president.

Wednesday, there were rumors going around about a cousin and close friend of Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman leader of Chechnya who is backed by the Kremlin. The news said that Adam Delimkhanov, a legislator, had been hurt or killed in Ukraine.

After Russian state TV said the lawmaker had been hurt and Ukrainian Telegram feeds said he was dead, Kadyrov released a picture of Delimkhanov.

Kadyrov wrote in the caption of a picture that Delimkhanov was “alive and well.” He also said that he knew this “from the very beginning,” even though he had asked Ukrainian intelligence to tell him what positions were hit so he could find his “dear brother.”

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