Panicked Russians are frantically fleeing the border town of Belgorod after Ukraine launched a barrage of missiles overnight in retaliation for Putin’s bold actions.
Civilians can be seen trying to board the midnight train leaving the city last night in video captured from the station, which is just 25 kilometers from Ukraine.
The panic began when images of Ukrainian missiles flying over the city before being shot down by defense systems were posted on Telegram.
The flares blazed into a dazzling white light, illuminating the night sky above the apartment complexes.
Due to its proximity to the border and storage of Russian weapons, Belgorod has been considered a target for Ukrainian assaults, and the Kremlin often launches attacks from the area.
The burning of an ammunition stockpile in Belgorod last week forced the evacuation of two communities.
And in July, what appeared to be a Ukrainian attack killed at least three people and devastated hundreds of homes.
After his soldiers launched an operation to regain southern Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky advised the Russians to evacuate for their lives, which sparked panic.
After a period of attacks on Russian supply lines, particularly bridges over the strategically important Dnipro River, and ammunition depots, Ukraine said on Monday its ground troops had launched their first assault in the south.
Zelensky warned Russian soldiers to go home or risk prosecution in a late-night speech on Monday.
“Russian servicemen must flee if they want to live.” He said, “Go home.”
Zelensky said “Ukraine is taking back its (country)”, adding that he would not reveal Kyiv’s detailed combat plans but that his military forces were doing their duty.
The new attack comes after several weeks of inaction in a conflict that has left thousands dead, millions displaced, the destruction of cities and the escalation of unprecedented Western economic sanctions against Russia.
In its early days, Russia annexed Crimea and seized large parts of southern Ukraine near the Black Sea coast, including the Kherson region.
With modern weapons supplied by the West, Ukraine sees retaking the area as key to thwarting Russian plans to annex more land to the west, which could ultimately cut off its access to black Sea.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Russian defenses in the Kherson region were “breakthrough within hours”. It was unclear which of several Russian lines of defense he was referring to.
Arestovych further claimed that Russian boats that supplied a strip of land on the western bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region were shelled by Ukrainian troops.
However, he was not yet able to determine the extent of Ukrainian territorial gains, according to Britain, a key friend of Ukraine. On Tuesday, Kyiv intensified its artillery bombardment along the entire southern front.
The governor of the Mykolaiv region, Vitaly Kim, informed Ukrainian television that “heavy fighting” was taking place. Our armed forces are constantly on duty. The territory of Kherson will soon be liberated.
Unconfirmed claims, photos and videos circulating on social media gave the impression that Ukrainian troops may have taken over some villages and destroyed Russian targets in the south.
Russian news agency RIA said a Ukrainian missile attack left the town of Nova Kakhovka, which is under Russian control, without water and electricity.
The Ukrainian attack, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, was stopped in its tracks.
In a statement, he said Ukrainian troops tried to launch three separate offensives in the southern districts of Mykolaiv and Kherson, but suffered losses of around 560 troops, 26 tanks and two aircraft.
It read: “Another effort by the adversary to launch an attack failed.”
Fight reports have not been confirmed by Reuters.
On Tuesday, explosions took place in the Kherson region, according to Ukrainian national station Suspilne, and residents of the city posted reports of shootings and explosions on social media. According to them, we did not know who was shooting.
A Russian official based in Kherson said Russian soldiers found and eliminated a Ukrainian sabotage team there.
There have also been reports of intensive Russian shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.
According to Ihor Terekhov, the mayor of Kharkiv, at least five people were murdered and seven others were injured.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in south-central Ukraine, which was taken by Russian forces in March but is run by Ukrainian employees, has been a flashpoint in the war, with the two sides trading nearby bombing charges.
Russian-installed officials accused Ukrainian forces of launching two shells that landed near a spent fuel storage structure at the facility, according to the TASS news agency. The Ukrainian side made no quick comments.
Europe’s largest nuclear power plant is due to receive an inspection and damage assessment mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) later this week.
The team, led by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, will assess working conditions and review safety and security measures, according to the Vienna-based organization.
The European Union is considering new strategies to pressure Russia to resolve the conflict, but France and Germany on Tuesday warned against suggestions to ban Russian tourist visas, arguing that such measure, strongly supported by the Baltic republics, would be ineffective.
The plans were deemed “irrational” by the Kremlin.