- Ukraine says Russians hit Kharkiv like they did Mariupol
- Fire at oil refinery in Russia
- Putin will commemorate the day in 1941 when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union
KYIV/JARKIV, June 22 (Reuters) – Russian forces fired rockets into Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, and the surrounding countryside, killing at least 15 people, in what Kyiv called an attempt to force it to withdraw resources. of the main battlefield to protect civilians from attack.
Inside Russia, a fire ripped through an oil refinery just 8 km (5 miles) from the Ukrainian border, after what the refinery described as a cross-border attack by two drones.
In the main battlefield town of Sievierodonetsk, where Russia claims to have surrounded Ukrainian forces since last week, footage shot by an independent journalist made it clear that the battle was not over, with Ukrainian troops able to resupply their garrison crossing a river on inflatable rafts. .
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The Russian attacks in Kharkiv, throughout Tuesday and Wednesday morning, were the worst in weeks in the area where normal life had returned since Ukraine pushed back Russian forces in a major counteroffensive last month.
“It was bombed by Russian troops. It was probably several rocket launchers. And it’s the impact of the missiles, it’s the whole impact of the missiles,” Kharkiv Prosecutor Mikhailo Martosh told Reuters amid the ruins of farmhouses targeted on Tuesday in a rural area on the outskirts of the city. .
Medical workers removed the body of an elderly woman from the rubble of a burning garage and carried it to a nearby pickup truck.
“She was 85 years old. She was a war girl (World War II). She survived a war, but she didn’t make it through this one,” said her grandson Mykyta. “There’s nowhere to run. Especially Grandma herself, she didn’t want to go anywhere from here.”
Ukrainian authorities said there were reports of more casualties overnight and on Wednesday morning after 15 people were killed and 16 injured in the Kharkiv region on Tuesday.
“Russian forces are now attacking the city of Kharkiv in the same way as they used to attack Mariupol before, with the aim of terrorizing the population,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video address.
“And if they keep doing that, we’re going to have to react, and that’s one way to get us to move our artillery,” he said. “The idea is to create a big problem to distract us and force us to divert troops. I think there will be an escalation.”
The main battleground is now south of Kharkiv in the Donbas region, which Moscow has been trying to seize on behalf of its separatist proxies, with the worst fighting concentrated in the devastated city of Sievierodonetsk.
Ukrainian forces have largely withstood the Russian assault thus far despite suffering punitive losses, and Moscow has only made slow progress using overwhelming artillery in some of the heaviest ground fighting in Europe since World War II.
Russia says Ukrainian forces in Sievierodonetsk are trapped. After the last bridge over the Siverskyi Donets River was destroyed last week, Moscow ordered Ukrainians to surrender or die.
But Oleksandr Ratushniak, a freelance photographer who arrived in Sievierodonetsk with Ukrainian forces in recent days, filmed soldiers crossing the river on an inflatable raft, proof that the garrison is not yet isolated.
Inside the ruins of the frontline industrial zone, Ukrainian troops fired from a tank’s main gun. They smoked cigarettes as they hid from the exploding Russian artillery outside. A dachshund scampered through the rubble.
“For us, this is like digging up potatoes,” said one, describing the shelling as a typical day at work.
There was no immediate Ukrainian comment on the apparent drone attack that halted production at Russia’s Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery, on the Russian side of the border with pro-Russian separatist-controlled Donbas territory.
Video footage posted on social media appeared to show a drone flying towards the refinery, before a large ball of fire and black smoke rose into the summer sky. The local emergency service, quoted by Interfax, said no one was injured and the fire was put out. read more
Ukraine generally does not comment on reports of attacks on Russian infrastructure near the border. In the past, he has called such incidents “karma” because of Russian attacks on Ukraine.
In a separate incident, Russian authorities said four people were killed after a shell exploded in an ammunition depot deep in Russia.
Wednesday is marked in both Russia and Ukraine as the “Day of Remembrance and Sorrow,” the anniversary of the day Hitler’s Germany attacked the Soviet Union. It is estimated that 27 million Soviet citizens died in World War II.
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin placed flowers at a memorial flame for the dead. World War II plays a prominent role in Russian propaganda about the invasion of Ukraine, which Putin calls a “special operation” to root out “Nazis.”
Kyiv and the West see that as baseless justification for a war to restore Moscow’s rule over Ukraine and erase its identity as a separate nation.
“Bombed at 4:30am. Word ‘war’ banned. Blame other countries for aggression. Psychiatrists of the future will examine: how after building the cult of WWII for years, Russia began to re-create bloody pages of history and Nazis every step,” tweeted Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak.
“The name of the last chapter is known: court.”
Moscow reiterated threats Wednesday of unspecified retaliation for Lithuania’s decision to block rail shipments of some goods to Russia’s Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad. Lithuania says it was required to block the shipments under EU sanctions that came into force on Saturday.
“We are convinced that the illegal sanctions adopted by the European Union are absolutely unacceptable in this situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters, adding that countermeasures were being prepared.
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Reporting by Vitalii Hnidyi in Kharkiv, Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv, and Reuters offices Writing by Peter Graff Editing by Philippa Fletcher
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