Russia strikes at Ukraine amid counterattacks

Russian forces launched massive rocket attacks on the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions of Ukraine, which were not fired upon for several weeks, while Ukrainian officials announced an operation to liberate the occupied region in the south of the country.

The governor of the Kyiv region Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram that early on Thursday morning a settlement in the Vyshgorodsky district of the region was shelled and an “infrastructure facility” was hit.

It was not immediately clear whether there were casualties.

Chernigov Governor Vyacheslav Chaus at the same time said that several rockets were fired from the territory of Belarus at the village of Goncharovskaya.

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A woman walks among residential buildings destroyed by Russian shelling on the outskirts of Odessa, Ukraine. (Mikhail Shtekel/AP)

Russian troops withdrew from the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions several months ago, but failed to capture either of them.

The resumption of strikes in these areas comes a day after the leader of the pro-Kremlin separatists in the east, Denis Pushilin, publicly called on Russian forces to “liberate the Russian cities founded by the Russian people – Kyiv, Chernihiv, Poltava, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk. , Kharkiv, Zaporozhye, Lutsk.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, also came under artillery fire during the night, its mayor Igor Terekhov said.

The southern city of Nikolaev was also shelled, one person was injured.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military continued counterattacks in the occupied southern region of Kherson, hitting a key bridge over the Dnieper River on Wednesday.

Ukrainian media on Thursday quoted Ukrainian presidential adviser Aleksey Arestovich as saying that the operation to liberate Kherson “has already begun.”

Mr. Arestovich said Kyiv forces planned to isolate Russian troops there and leave them with three options – “retreat if possible, surrender, or be destroyed.”

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Ukrainian soldier in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said in a televised address Wednesday that he was “cautious” about the timing of a possible counteroffensive.

“I would very much like it to be much faster,” he said, adding that “the enemy is now concentrating the maximum number (of forces) precisely in the Kherson direction.”

“A very large-scale transfer of their troops has begun, they are gathering additional forces,” Danilov warned.

The British military estimated on Thursday that Ukraine’s counter-offensive in Kherson was “gaining momentum.”

“Their forces have most likely established a foothold south of the Ingulets River, which forms the northern border of Russian-occupied Kherson,” the UK MoD said.

He added that Ukraine used its new long-range artillery to damage at least three bridges across the Dnieper River, “on which Russia depends to supply the territories under its control.”

The Defense Ministry concluded that the 1,000-meter Antonovsky Bridge, which Ukrainian forces attacked on Wednesday, is likely to be “unusable.”