Twenty killed as Russia rains rockets on Kharkiv

KYIV/KHARKIV, June 22 (Reuters) – Russian forces pounded Ukraine’s second largest metropolis Kharkiv and surrounding countryside with rockets, killing not less than 20 folks in what Kyiv referred to as a bid to drive it to drag sources from the principle battlefield to guard civilians from assault.

Inside Russia, a fireplace tore via an oil refinery simply 8 km (5 miles) from the Ukrainian border, after what the refinery described as a cross border assault by two drones.

In the principle battlefield metropolis of Sievierodonetsk, the place Russia has claimed to have Ukrainian forces surrounded since final week, scenes filmed by a contract journalist made clear the battle was not over, with Ukrainian troops capable of resupply their garrison by crossing a river in inflatable rafts.

The Russian strikes on Kharkiv, all through Tuesday and persevering with on Wednesday morning, had been the worst for weeks within the space the place regular life had been returning since Ukraine pushed Russian forces again in a serious counter-offensive final month.

“It was shelling by Russian troops. It was most likely a number of rocket launchers. And it is the missile influence, it is all of the missile influence,” Kharkiv prosecutor Mikhailo Martosh informed Reuters amid the ruins of cottages struck on Tuesday in a rural space on town’s outskirts.

Medical staff carried the physique of an aged girl out of the rubble of a burnt-out storage and into a close-by van.

“She was 85 years previous. A baby of the conflict (World Struggle Two). She survived one conflict, however did not make it via this one,” mentioned her grandson Mykyta. “There’s nowhere to flee to. Particularly grandmother herself, she did not wish to go wherever from right here.”

Ukrainian authorities mentioned 15 folks had been killed and 16 wounded on Tuesday within the Kharkiv area, and regional governor Oleh Sinegubov described shelling incidents on Wednesday morning that had killed not less than one other 5.

“Russian forces at the moment are hitting town of Kharkiv in the identical means that they beforehand had been hitting Mariupol – with the intention of terrorising the inhabitants,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych mentioned in a video tackle.

“And in the event that they hold doing that we should react — and that’s one strategy to make us transfer our artillery,” he mentioned. “The thought is to create one huge downside to distract us and drive us to divert troops. I feel there will probably be an escalation.”

The principle battlefield is now to the south of Kharkiv within the Donbas area, which Moscow has been making an attempt to grab on behalf of its separatist proxies, with the worst combating concentrated within the devastated metropolis of Sievierodonetsk.

Russian forces have made solely gradual progress utilizing overwhelming artillery in among the heaviest floor combating in Europe since World Struggle Two.

Moscow says Ukrainian forces in Sievierodonetsk are trapped and ordered them to give up or die final week after the final bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river was destroyed.

However Oleksandr Ratushniak, a contract photographer who reached Sievierodonetsk with Ukrainian forces in current days, filmed reinforcements crossing in an inflatable raft.

Contained in the ruins of the frontline industrial zone, the Ukrainian troops fired from a tank’s predominant gun. They smoked cigarettes as they hid from Russian artillery exploding exterior. An deserted dachshund the troops nicknamed “Bullet” scampered with them via the rubble.

An everyday day’s work, mentioned one soldier: “For us, this like digging up potatoes.”

There was no fast Ukrainian remark concerning the obvious drone strike which suspended manufacturing at Russia’s Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery, on the Russian facet of the frontier with Donbas territory managed by pro-Russian separatists.

Video footage posted on social media appeared to indicate a drone flying in direction of the refinery, earlier than a big ball of flame billowed up into the summer season sky. The native emergency service, cited by Interfax, mentioned nobody was harm and the blaze was put out.

Ukraine typically doesn’t touch upon stories of assaults on Russian infrastructure close to the border, which up to now it has referred to as “karma” for Russian assaults on Ukraine.

In a separate incident, Russian authorities mentioned 4 folks had been killed after a shell exploded at an ammunition depot deep inside Russia.

In southern Ukraine, officers mentioned seven Russian missiles had struck the port of Mykolaiv, killing not less than one particular person and inflicting a number of main fires. World grain dealer Viterra mentioned its grain terminal within the southern Ukrainian port of Mykolaiv was hit and was ablaze.

Wednesday was marked in each Russia and Ukraine because the “Day of Remembrance and Sorrow”, anniversary of the day Hitler’s Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Russian President Vladimir Putin laid flowers at a memorial flame for the lifeless.

World Struggle Two, which killed 27 million Soviet residents, performs a distinguished function in Russian commentary on the Ukraine invasion, which Putin calls a “particular operation” to root out “Nazis”. Kyiv and the West name {that a} baseless justification for a conflict to wipe out Ukraine’s identification as a separate nation.

“Psychiatrists of the long run will look at: how after constructing the WWII cult for years, Russia started to recreate bloody pages of the historical past and Nazis’ every step,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted.

Moscow repeated threats on Wednesday to take unspecified retaliation for a choice by Lithuania to dam rail shipments of some items to Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic Sea. Lithuania says it was required to dam the shipments underneath EU sanctions that took impact on Saturday.

“We’re satisfied that the unlawful sanctions adopted by the European Union are completely unacceptable on this scenario,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov mentioned in a name with reporters, including that countermeasures had been being ready.

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