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

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  • Ukraine strikes Russian-controlled Kherson region
  • He says he kills 52 Russians, destroys equipment
  • Civilians also injured, Russian-based official says
  • Says at least seven people killed
  • Ukraine plans counterattack to retake south

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

According to Ukraine, the strike hit an ammunition depot in the town of Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region and killed 52 Russians. It came after Washington provided Ukraine with HIMARS mobile artillery systems that Kyiv says its forces are using with ever-increasing effectiveness.

A Russian official based in Kherson gave a different version. He 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” on February 24 and is of strategic importance with access to the Black Sea, agricultural industry once thriving and a location just north of Russia annexed Crimea. .

Ukrainian government officials have spoken of efforts to muster up to 1 million troops and their goal of retaking southern parts of the country from 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 said. command declared in the declaration.

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-installed 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, resulting in a large explosion.

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

Vladimir Leontyev, head of Russia’s Kakhovka District Civilian-Military Administration, was quoted by Russian news agency TASS as saying that at least seven people were killed in the attack and around 60 injured. .

“There are still a lot of people under the rubble. The injured are being taken to hospital, but many people are stuck in their apartments and houses,” Leontiev was quoted as saying by TASS.

He was also quoted as saying that warehouses, shops, a pharmacy, gas stations and a church were hit.

COUNTERATTACK PLANS

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 settlements have been left in ruins as Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II approaches five months away.

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.

On Sunday, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister urged civilians in Kherson to urgently evacuate as Ukrainian armed forces prepared a counterattack there.

“It is clear that there will be fighting, there will be artillery fire… and therefore we urge (people) to urgently evacuate,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told TV. national.

She said she couldn’t say exactly when the counterattack would occur.

“I know for sure that there shouldn’t be women and children there, and they shouldn’t become human shields,” she said.

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

Russian forces have been shelling parts of the Donetsk region, which is part of Donbass, for weeks.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region, told a briefing that there was a large buildup of Russian troops, especially in the Bakhmut and Siversky regions, and around Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

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

TASS separately reported that Russian and Russian-backed forces surrounded the town of Sieversk.

Other places in Ukraine were also attacked.

At least 12 people were injured in the shelling of the southern city of Mykolaiv overnight, the regional governor said, and the mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, told Ukrainian television that it was also under pressure.

“Russia does not leave Kharkiv alone for a second and constantly bombs the city,” said mayor Oleh Terekhov.

“We don’t stop for a minute preparing the defense of the city and the region.”

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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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