Ukraine launches a missile attack on Russian-occupied Melitopol



CNN

Multiple explosions have been reported in the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine, in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and in annexed Crimea – including at Russian military barracks.

The explosions in Melitopol came amid reports from officials on both sides that Ukraine launched a missile attack on the city on Saturday, while Russian state media said 20 missiles hit the Donetsk People’s Republic on Sunday morning.

Separately, reports also emerged of multiple explosions in Russian-annexed Crimea, including at a military barracks in Sovetsk.

Officials in Melitopol appointed by Moscow said four missiles hit the city, killing two and wounding 10, while the mayor of Melitopol reported several explosions, including in a church occupied by Russian forces.

However, Ukrainian officials have not commented on the explosions in Crimea or in the Donetsk People’s Republic, and CNN cannot verify the cause of the explosions or the extent of the damage.

Melitopol, located in Ukraine’s Zaporizhia Oblast, has been under Russian occupation since early March.

The missile attack on Melitopol “totally destroyed” an entertainment center where “people, civilians and [military] Al Qaeda was having dinner on Saturday night.”

Ivan Fedorov, a former Ukrainian official of the city of Melitopol, acknowledged the strikes, which he said targeted Russian military bases.

Fedrov said last month that Russia had turned Melitopol into “one giant military base”.

The Russian army is settling in captured local homes, schools and kindergartens. Fedorov said in November that military equipment was stationed in residential areas.

Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov said there were several explosions, including at the Melitopol Christian Church, “which was seized by the occupiers several months ago and turned into a lair for them.”

And Fedorov, who is not in Melitopol, said that there were dead and wounded among the Russian troops there.

Meanwhile, Russian officials said Sunday morning that Ukrainian missiles hit several apartment buildings in the Donetsk People’s Republic and that some landed near the Opera and Ballet Theater and Kalinin Hospital.

Alexey Kolymzin, head of the Russian-backed city administration, said that Ukraine fired 20 Grad missiles at around 5:54 a.m. local time on Sunday in the direction of the Voroshilovskiy and Kalininsky districts.

Kolymzin said Ukraine also bombed the city’s Kievsky district late Saturday night around 11:03 p.m. local time.

The Ukrainian military has yet to confirm or comment on the attack.

The Russian-backed separatists have been holding Donetsk since 2014.

Valentin Reznichenko, head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration, said in a Telegram Sunday that the Dnipropetrovsk region of southern Ukraine was also hit by heavy Grad artillery overnight. He said there were no injuries.

The communities of Nikopol, Chervonohrivka, and Marhanets were hit, Reznechenko said, adding that more than 50 shells were fired. Nikopol district, in the Dnipropetrovsk region, is located across the river from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.

In the Chervonohryhorivka community, he said, gas pipelines and power lines were damaged, along with 15 homes, several outbuildings, and cars. Three villages were left without electricity and water, he said, adding that emergency crews had already started repair work.

The attack on Melitopol came amid footage on social media and reports of several explosions in the Crimean city of Simferopol at around 9pm local time on Saturday.

There were also reports of explosions in Sevastopol, the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. in a Russian military barracks in Sovetsk; and in Hvardiiske, Dzhankoi and Nyzhniohirskyi

The explosions come after Moscow intensified its attack Missile attacks In Ukraine last week, following Russian allegations that Kiev was behind recent drone strikes on military airfields deep in its territory.

There are conflicting accounts about the explosions in Crimea.

The unofficial media portal of Crimea, “Krymsky Vitor”, said that an explosion in a Russian military barracks in Sovetsk set the barracks on fire, causing deaths and injuries.

However, the pro-Russian TV channel Crimea claimed that the fire in the barracks was caused by “careless handling of fire”.

Two people died. And now all the military, about two hundred people, are accommodated in other buildings.

Sergey Aksenov, the Russia-appointed head of Crimea, said on Telegram: “The air defense system over Simferopol has worked. All services are operating as usual.

Mikhail Razvojev, governor of Sevastopol, said the explosions were due to shooting exercises.

The news comes amid reports that 1.5 million people in Ukraine’s Odessa region have been left without electricity following Iranian-made drone strikes.

“In all, 15 Shahed drones were used by Russian terrorists against Odessa,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during his daily address on Saturday.

He said that the “defenders of the Ukrainian sky” had shot down 10 of the 15 drones, but that the damage was still “critical,” and noted that it would take a few days to restore the electricity supply in the area.

“Only critical infrastructure is connected and to the extent that electricity can be provided,” he said.

Ukraine has been facing a massive attack on its critical infrastructure and energy sources since early October. This has Leaving millions across the country facing power outages Amidst very cold temperatures in the winter.

“In general, emergency power outages and stabilization continues in various regions,” Zelensky said. “The energy system is now, to put it mildly, very far from normal.”

Odessa was already among the hardest hit after previous Russian attacks on critical infrastructure.

Zelensky added, “This is Russia’s true attitude towards Odessa and towards the people of Odessa – deliberate bullying and a deliberate attempt to cause disaster in the city.”

On Saturday, Zelensky added, Ukraine received “a new support package from Norway in the amount of $100 million,” which will be used “specifically to restore our energy system after Russian strikes.”

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