Ukrainian rockets hit Russian-held area as Kyiv prepares counterattack from south

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  • Ukraine strikes Russian-controlled Kherson region
  • Says he kills 52, destroys the material
  • Russian-backed official also reports civilian casualties
  • Says at least seven people killed
  • Ukraine plans counter-offensive to retake south

KYIV, July 12 (Reuters) – Ukraine said on Tuesday it had carried out a long-range rocket strike against Russian military forces and equipment in southern Ukraine, territory it plans to retake in a counter-offensive using hundreds of thousands of troops.

The strike hit an ammunition depot in the town of Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region and killed 52 people, the Ukrainian military said. It came after Washington provided Ukraine with HIMARS advanced mobile artillery systems that Kyiv says its forces are using with increasing effectiveness.

The Russian authorities installed in the city gave a different version of the events. Russian news agencies TASS reported saying at least seven people were killed in the attack and around 70 injured. A Russian-backed official in Kherson said at least seven people were killed and civilians and civilian infrastructure were hit.

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Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.

The Ukraine-hit area is one Russia seized after launching what Moscow called “a special military operation” in its former Soviet neighbor on February 24 and is of strategic importance with access to the Black Sea, a once-thriving agricultural industry and a location just north of Russia-annexed Crimea.

Ukrainian government officials have spoken of efforts to muster up to a million troops and their goal of retaking the southern parts of the country now under Russian control.

“Based on the results of our rocket and artillery units, the enemy lost 5️2 (people), one Msta-B howitzer, one mortar and seven armored and other vehicles, as well as an ammunition depot in Nova Kakhovka,” the Southern Ukrainian military command said. said in the statement.

Unverified videos posted on social media showed smoke and sparks, followed by a huge fireball bursting into the night sky. Footage released by Russian state media showed a wasteland covered in rubble and the remains of buildings.

A Russian-backed local administration official said Ukraine used HIMARS missiles and destroyed warehouses containing saltpeter, a chemical compound that can be used to make fertilizer or powder. cannon. A large explosion resulted. Russian news agency TASS later reported that the fires had been extinguished.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the type of weapon used.

“There are still a lot of people under the rubble. The wounded are being taken to hospital, but many people are stuck in their apartments and houses,” said Vladimir Leontyev, head of the district’s military-civilian administration. from Kakhovka, settled in Russia. TASS as said. He said warehouses, shops, a pharmacy, gas stations and a church were hit.

COUNTERATTACK PLANS

The conflict has blocked access to grain and cooking oils from Ukraine, deepening a global food crisis. More than 20 million tonnes of grain are stuck in silos at the key Black Sea port of Odessa.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said military delegations from Ukraine, Russia and Turkey would meet UN officials in Istanbul on Wednesday to discuss a possible deal to resume safe grain exports. Ukrainians.

“We are indeed working hard, but there is still a long way to go,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters. Read more

As Russia blocks Ukraine’s main Black Sea ports, Ukrainian Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuriy Vaskov said grain shipments through the Danube have increased with the reopening of the Bystre Canal, which provides access to small inland river ports.

Ukraine expects monthly grain exports to increase by 500,000 tonnes as a result, Vaskov said. Ukraine is also negotiating with Romania and the European Commission on increasing shipments through the Sulina channel, he said.

Russia has accused Ukraine of bombing its own people in territory it has lost control of. Ukraine says it is evacuating as many people as possible from areas seized by Russian forces in what it and the West have presented as an imperial-style land grab attempt by Moscow.

Kyiv and the West say Russia’s own strikes have been indiscriminate, killing civilians and razing parts of the city.

Moscow denies targeting civilians, but many Ukrainian population centers have been left in ruins as Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II nears the five-month mark.

The UN human rights office said on Tuesday that 5,024 civilians had been killed in Ukraine since the start of the invasion, adding that the true toll was likely much higher. Read more

Russia has attempted to introduce the ruble to Kherson and offers Russian passports to locals. Russian-installed officials have said they also plan to hold a referendum on the region’s integration into Russia, but have not yet set a date.

Ukraine is preparing itself for what it expects will be another massive Russian offensive in the east where Moscow says it is determined to take control of the entire industrial region of Donbass.

Russian forces, which earlier this month completed the capture of Luhansk province in the Donbass, have been shelling parts of neighboring Donetsk province for weeks.

Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said there was a significant buildup of Russian troops, especially in the Bakhmut and Siversky regions, and around Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

The entire frontline in the area was constantly shelled as Russian troops tried to break through but were pushed back, he said.

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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Andrew Osborn, Nick Macfie and Cynthia Osterman; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Mark Heinrich and Aurora Ellis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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