Russia kills 11 in strike on Ukraine; Kyiv says troops make gains
KRYVYI RIH: A Russian missile strike killed at least 11 people in an apartment building and a warehouse in President Volodymyr Zelensky's home town on Tuesday, while Moscow's forces yielded ground in the early stages of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Residents sobbed outside the burnt-out apartment block and smoke billowed after the early-morning attack in Kryvyi Rih, a half-hour drive from the huge reservoir emptied last week by the destruction of a dam that flooded a swathe of southern Ukraine.
Officials said at least four people were killed in the apartment building and another seven in the warehouse. Twenty-eight were injured.
Broken glass and bricks were strewn across the street and courtyard outside the apartment block. At least five cars were ruined husks.
Survivors described two explosions. Olha Chernousova said she was thrown out of her bed by a violent blast wave. She escaped onto her balcony to wait for rescuers. "I thought I would have to jump into a tree."
"Russian killers continue their war against residential buildings, ordinary cities and people," Zelenskiy, who was born in the city, said on Telegram.
Moscow denies intentionally targeting civilians but has repeatedly struck apartment buildings with long-range missiles, often at perceived turning points in the war. It killed 25 people in an apartment block in the central city of Uman six weeks ago, heralding the start of an intensified campaign of drone and missile strikes in the run-up to Ukraine's long-awaited counteroffensive.
EARLY DAYS OF ASSAULT
After seven months of a huge Russian offensive that yielded scant gains despite the bloodiest ground combat in Europe since World War Two, Ukraine began its counterassault last week.
So far the offensive is still in its early days, with tens of thousands of fresh Ukrainian troops and hundreds of Western armoured vehicles yet to be committed to the fight.
Confirmed video footage from villages over the past two days show that Ukraine has already captured more ground than at any time since November. But it has yet to pierce Russia's main defensive lines, which Moscow has had months to prepare.
Russia has also accused Ukraine of cross-border shelling as Kyiv carries out counteroffensive operations. The governor of Kursk in Russia said on Tuesday several houses had been damaged and power supplies disrupted in two villages in the region near the border. Ukraine does not comment on reports of incidents in Russia.
During the early hours of Tuesday, air raid sirens blared across the whole of Ukraine, with Kyiv's military officials saying air defence forces destroyed all Russian missiles targeting the capital.
Ukraine's top military command said that air forces destroyed 10 out of 14 cruise missiles Russia launched on Ukraine and one of four Iranian-made drones.
After a week of giving little information about its offensive, Ukraine said on Monday it had recaptured seven settlements so far. Troops have advanced up to 6.5 km (4 miles) and seized 90 square km (35 square miles) of ground along a 100 km-long stretch of the southern front line, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said.
Russia has not acknowledged any Ukrainian gains and says its forces have repelled advances since June 4. Its defence ministry said on Tuesday its forces had repelled Ukrainian attacks near the villages of Makarivka, Rivnopil and Prechystivka.
It also released video footage of what it said were German-made Leopard tanks and U.S.-made Bradley Fighting Vehicles captured in battle. Reuters could not immediately verify the location or time of the footage.
Military analysts say the fighting so far is probably still mainly probing attacks by the Ukrainians who have yet to unleash the bulk of their forces, while Russia's main defensive fortifications still lie further back.
Last week's destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam created a humanitarian disaster across both sides of the front line and could damage agriculture in one of the world's breadbaskets for decades.
Both sides have accused each other of sabotaging it. Western countries say they are still gathering evidence but believe Ukraine would have had no reason to inflict such a catastrophe on itself.
Ukraine said a 72-year-old priest was killed on Tuesday and a 76-year-old woman injured by Russian shelling in the town of Belozerka in the flood zone.