Russian forces fired rockets into Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv and the surrounding countryside, killing at least 20 people, prompting Kyiv to pull resources from the main battlefield to protect civilians from the attack. Tried to force.
Inside Russia, a fire broke through an oil refinery just 8 km (5 mi) from the Ukrainian border, in what the refinery described as a cross-border attack by two drones.
In the main battlefield city of Svyarodonetsk, where Russia has claimed Ukrainian forces have been surrounded since last week, scenes filmed by a freelance journalist made it clear the fighting was not over, with Ukrainian soldiers crossing a river in inflatable rafts for their lives. Were able to restart the garrison. ,
Russian attacks on Kharkiv, continuing throughout Tuesday and Wednesday morning, were the worst for weeks in a region where normal life was returning as Ukraine pushed back Russian forces in a major retaliatory strike last month.
“It was being shelled by Russian troops. It was probably multiple rocket launchers. And it’s missile effect, it’s all missile effect,” Kharkiv prosecutor Mikhailo Martosh told Reuters on Tuesday among the ruins of cottages in a rural area on the outskirts of the city.
Medical workers pulled out the body of an elderly woman from the rubble of a burnt garage and carried it to a nearby van.
“She was 85. A child of war (World War II). She survived one war, but didn’t make it through this,” said her grandson Mykeita. “There is nowhere to run. Especially Grandma herself, she didn’t want to go anywhere from here.”
Ukrainian officials said 15 people were killed and 16 wounded in the Kharkiv region on Tuesday, and regional governor Ole Sinegubov described shelling incidents on Wednesday morning that killed at least five more.
“Russian forces are now hitting the city of Kharkiv in the same way they were killing Mariupol before – with the aim of terrorizing the population,” Oleksiy Erestovich, adviser to the President of Ukraine, said in a video address.
“And if they continue to do that we have to respond – and that’s a way to advance our artillery,” he said. “The idea is to create a bigger problem to divert our attention and force us to withdraw soldiers. I think there will be an increase. ,
The main battlefield is now south of Kharkiv in the Donbass region, which Moscow is trying to seize from its separatist proxies, with the worst of the fighting centered in the devastated city of Svyarodonetsk.
The Russian military has made only slow progress, using heavy artillery in some of the heaviest ground fighting in Europe since World War II.
Moscow says Ukrainian forces are trapped in Sveriodonetsk and were ordered to surrender or die after the last bridge over the Siversky Donets River was destroyed last week.
But Oleksandr Ratushniak, a freelance photographer who arrived in Svyarodonetsk with the Ukrainian military in recent days, filmed reinforcements in an inflatable raft.
Inside the ruins of a border industrial area, Ukrainian soldiers fired from a tank’s main gun. They smoked cigarettes as they blasted out Russian artillery. Soldiers with an abandoned Dachshund nicknamed “Bullet” ran with them through the rubble.
A regular day’s work, one soldier said: “For us, it’s like digging potatoes.”
There was no immediate Ukrainian comment about the apparent drone strike, which suspended production at Russia’s Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery, on the Russian side of the border with the Donbass region controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
Video footage posted on social media showed a drone flying towards the refinery before a huge ball of heat exploded in flames. The local emergency service, quoted by Interfax, said no one was hurt and the fire was under control.
Ukraine does not usually comment on reports of attacks on Russian infrastructure near the border, calling it “karma” for Russian attacks on Ukraine in the past.
In a separate incident, Russian officials said four people were killed when a gunfire exploded at an ammunition depot inside Russia.
In southern Ukraine, officials said seven Russian missiles struck the port of Mykoliv, killing at least one person and causing several major fires. Global grain trader Vitera said its grain terminal in southern Ukraine’s Mykolaiv port was damaged and caught fire.
Wednesday marked a “day of remembrance and grief” in both Russia and Ukraine, the day Hitler’s Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Russian President Vladimir Putin lays flowers at the memorial flame for the dead.
World War II, which killed 27 million Soviet civilians, plays a major role in Russian commentary on the invasion of Ukraine, which Putin calls a “special operation” to root out the “Nazis”. Kyiv and the West call that a baseless justification for war to erase Ukraine’s identity as a separate nation.
“Psychiatrists of the future will investigate: how after years of WWII cult creation, Russia began to recreate the bloody pages of history and the Nazis every step of the way,” tweeted Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolik.
Moscow threatened on Wednesday unspecified retaliation for Lithuania’s decision to block rail shipments of certain goods to Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic Sea. Lithuania says it was necessary to block shipments under EU sanctions that took effect on Saturday.
“We are convinced that the illegal sanctions adopted by the European Union are absolutely unacceptable in this situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. He said retaliatory action was being taken.
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