Russian missiles hit Ukraine’s Odessa region as war approaches six months

  • Russia could be doing something ‘particularly ugly’, says Ukraine
  • Ukraine Independence Day marks six months since invasion
  • Missiles hit Ukraine’s Odessa region
  • New shelling reported near Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
  • Russian nationalist’s daughter killed in car bombing

Aug 21 (Reuters) – Artillery shells fell on a town near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant overnight and Russian missiles hit targets near Odessa, a Ukrainian Black Sea port and a grain export center, as the war moved towards its six-month milestone on Wednesday.

August 24 will also mark 31 years of Ukraine’s independence from Soviet rule, and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in an overnight video address called for vigilance, saying Moscow might try “something particularly ugly”.

Russian authorities said on Sunday they were investigating a suspected car bombing outside Moscow that killed the daughter of Alexander Dugin, an ultra-nationalist Russian ideologue who advocates absorbing Ukraine into Russia. Read more

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While investigators said they were considering “all versions” to determine who was responsible, the Russian Foreign Ministry speculated there might be a link to Ukraine, which the adviser to Zelenskiy quickly dismissed.

“Ukraine, of course, has nothing to do with it because we are not a criminal state, like the Russian Federation, and moreover we are not a terrorist state,” Mykhailo Podolyak told the Ukrainian television, suggesting that the incident was a “Karmic”. reward for supporters of the invasion of Moscow.

As Ukraine prepared to mark its Independence Day, embroiled in a war that destroyed towns and villages, killed thousands and forced millions to flee, military and regional officials reported new Russian strikes on targets in the east and south of the country.

Of particular concern is the bombardment of Nikopol, a town across the Dnipro River from Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine and Europe. He has been held by Russian forces since March.

Nikopol was shelled five times overnight, regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on Telegram. He said 25 artillery shells hit the town, causing a fire in industrial premises and knocking out electricity to 3,000 residents.

Fighting near Zaporizhzia and Saturday’s missile strike on the southern Ukrainian town of Voznesensk, not far from Ukraine’s second-largest atomic power plant, raised fears of a nuclear accident.

CRUISE MISSILE STRIKES

Local authorities also reported nightly missile attacks in the Odessa region, home to Black Sea ports key to a UN-brokered plan to help Ukraine’s agricultural exports, essential for the world’s food supply, to reach global markets again. Read more

Five Russian Kalibr cruise missiles were fired from the Black Sea at the region overnight, the regional administration’s spokesman said, citing information from the Southern Military Command. Two were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses while three hit agricultural targets, but there were no casualties.

Russia said on Sunday the missiles destroyed an ammunition depot containing missiles for US-made HIMARS rockets, while Kyiv said an attic was hit.

There have been no new reports of incidents in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, after a series of explosions made headlines in recent times. weeks.

In his speech, Zelenskiy indirectly referred to the explosions, for which Ukraine did not claim responsibility, but analysts said at least some were made possible by new equipment used by its forces.

“You can literally smell Crimea in the air this year, that the occupation there is only temporary and Ukraine is coming back,” Zelenskiy said.

In the latest incident, a drone attack on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was foiled on Saturday morning, according to a Telegram message from Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Russian-appointed governor of Crimea, who is not acknowledged. by the West.

In a daily Facebook update, the Ukrainian General Staff also reported several attempted Russian assaults over the past 24 hours in Donbass, the eastern region partially controlled by pro-Moscow separatists that has been a target. key to the Russian campaign in recent months.

In the south, Russian forces successfully carried out an assault on the village of Blahodatne, on the border between Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, he added. The city of Mykolaiv was hit by several S-300 missiles early on Sunday, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said on Telegram.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces destroyed two M777 howitzers in combat position in the Kherson region and a fuel depot in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the battlefield reports.

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Reporting by Ron Popeski and Natalia Zinets; Written by Tomasz Janowski; Editing by Nick Macfie and Gareth Jones

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