ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Fifteen killed as Russia rains rockets on Kharkiv

The Russian strikes on Kharkiv, throughout Tuesday and continuing on Wednesday morning, were the worst for weeks in the area where normal life had been returning since Ukraine pushed Russian forces back in a major counter-offensive last month.

Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Sievierodonetsk
A Ukrainian service member with a dog observes in the industrial area of the city of Sievierodonetsk, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine on June 20, 2022.
STRINGER/REUTERS
We are part of The Trust Project.

KYIV/KHARKIV — Russian forces pounded Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv and surrounding countryside with rockets, killing at least 15 people, in what Kyiv called a bid to force it to pull resources from the main battlefield to protect civilians from attack.

Inside Russia, a fire tore through an oil refinery just 5 miles from the Ukrainian border, after what the refinery described as a cross border attack by two drones.

In the main battlefield city of Sievierodonetsk, where Russia has claimed to have Ukrainian forces surrounded since last week, pictures filmed by a freelance journalist made clear the battle was not over, with Ukrainian troops able to resupply their garrison by crossing a river in inflatable rafts.

More from Ukraine
Russia's invasion, the biggest attack on a European state since 1945, has seen more than 6.5 million people flee abroad, turned entire cities into rubble and brought down severe economic sanctions on Moscow.
Russia and separatist proxies were already in control of the southern part of Donetsk province when they effectively completed the seizure of the neighboring Luhansk region on Sunday with the capture of the city of Lysychansk, much of which now lies in ruins.
After Russian forces on Sunday took control of Lysychansk, the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk, Ukrainian officials said they now expect Moscow to focus its efforts especially on the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in Donetsk.
With the war entering its next phase, Ukrainian forces took up new defensive lines in the eastern part of the country.
The cause of the blasts was not immediately clear, although Russia later said it had hit army command posts in the area. Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
Russia said it had decided to withdraw from the outcrop off Ukraine's southwestern coast as a "gesture of goodwill" to show Moscow was not obstructing U.N. attempts to open a humanitarian corridor allowing grains to be shipped from Ukraine.
Putin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying he could not rule out that tensions would emerge in Moscow's relations with Helsinki and Stockholm over their joining NATO.
Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš met with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz Wednesday ahead of a six-day Latvian song and dance festival in St. Paul.
The attack in the central city of Kremenchuk and the reported strike in the Dnipropetrovsk region were far from any frontlines. The mall attack drew a wave of global condemnation, with France's Emmanuel Macron calling it a "war crime."
Leaders of the Group of Seven major democracies, meeting at a German alpine resort, said they would keep sanctions on Russia for as long as necessary and intensify international pressure on President Vladimir Putin's government and its ally Belarus.

The Russian strikes on Kharkiv, throughout Tuesday and continuing on Wednesday morning, were the worst for weeks in the area where normal life had been returning since Ukraine pushed Russian forces back in a major counter-offensive last month.

“It was shelling by Russian troops. It was probably multiple rocket launchers. And it's the missile impact, it's all the missile impact," Kharkiv prosecutor Mikhailo Martosh told Reuters amid the ruins of cottages struck on Tuesday in a rural area on the city's outskirts.

ADVERTISEMENT

Medical workers carried the body of an elderly woman out of the rubble of a burnt-out garage and into a nearby van.

"She was 85 years old. A child of the war (World War Two). She survived one war, but didn't make it through this one," said her grandson Mykyta. "There is nowhere to flee to. Especially grandmother herself, she didn't want to go anywhere from here."

Ukrainian authorities said there were reports of more casualties overnight and on Wednesday morning after 15 people were killed and 16 wounded on Tuesday in the Kharkiv region.

"Russian forces are now hitting the city of Kharkiv in the same way that they previously were hitting Mariupol — with the aim of terrorizing the population," Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video address.

Shelling in Kharkiv
A fire from a gas processing plant continues to burn behind a field of wheat after the plant was hit by shelling a few days prior in Andriivka in the Kharkiv region as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues in Ukraine on June 21, 2022.
LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS

"And if they keep doing that we will have to react — and that is one way to make us move our artillery," he said. "The idea is to create one big problem to distract us and force us to divert troops. I think there will be an escalation."

The main battlefield is now to the south of Kharkiv in the Donbas region, which Moscow has been trying to seize on behalf of its separatist proxies, with the worst fighting concentrated in the devastated city of Sievierodonetsk.

Ukrainian forces have largely been withstanding the Russian assault so far despite taking punishing losses, with Moscow making only slow progress using overwhelming artillery in some of the heaviest ground fighting in Europe since World War Two.

Russia says Ukrainian forces in Sievierodonetsk are trapped. After the last bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river was destroyed last week, Moscow ordered the Ukrainians to surrender or die.

ADVERTISEMENT

But Oleksandr Ratushniak, a freelance photographer who reached Sievierodonetsk with Ukrainian forces in recent days, filmed soldiers crossing the river in an inflatable raft, evidence that the garrison is not yet cut off.

Inside the ruins of the frontline industrial zone, the Ukrainian troops fired from a tank's main gun. They smoked cigarettes as they hid from Russian artillery exploding outside. A dachshund scampered through the rubble.

"For us, this like digging up potatoes," said one, describing the bombardment as a typical day of work.

Shelling in Kharkiv
A worker from the war crimes prosecutor's office takes in the damage from overnight shelling that landed on a building of Kharkiv's Housing and Communal College as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on June 21, 2022.
LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS

DRONE STRIKE

There was no immediate Ukrainian comment about the apparent drone strike which suspended production at Russia's Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery, on the Russian side of the frontier with Donbas territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Video footage posted on social media appeared to show a drone flying towards the refinery, before a large ball of flame and black smoke billowed up into the summer sky. The local emergency service, cited by Interfax, said no one was hurt and the blaze was put out.

Ukraine generally does not comment on reports of attacks on Russian infrastructure near the border. In the past it has called such incidents "karma" for Russian attacks on Ukraine.

In a separate incident, Russian authorities said four people were killed after a shell exploded at an ammunition depot deep inside Russia.

ADVERTISEMENT

Wednesday is marked in both Russia and Ukraine as the "Day of Remembrance and Sorrow," anniversary of the day when Hitler's Germany attacked the Soviet Union. An estimated 27 million Soviet citizens died in World War Two.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath-laying ceremony in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin lays flowers at a memorial to the Hero Cities during a ceremony, which marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany in 1941, in central Moscow, on June 22, 2022.
Mikhail Metzel/SPUTNIK/via REUTERS

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin laid flowers at a memorial flame for the dead. World War Two plays a prominent role in Russian propaganda over the Ukraine invasion, which Putin calls a "special operation" to root out "Nazis."

Kyiv and the West view that as a baseless justification for a war to restore Moscow's rule over Ukraine and wipe out its identity as a separate nation.

"Bombed at 4:30 am. Banned the word 'war'. Blamed other countries for aggression. Psychiatrists of the future will examine: how after building the WWII cult for years, Russia began to recreate bloody pages of the history and Nazis’ each step," Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted.

"The last chapter’s name is known — tribunal."

Moscow repeated threats on Wednesday to take unspecified retaliation for a decision by Lithuania to block rail shipments of some goods to Russia's Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic Sea. Lithuania says it was required to block the shipments under EU sanctions that took effect on Saturday.

"We are convinced that the illegal sanctions adopted by the European Union are absolutely unacceptable in this situation," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters, adding that countermeasures were being prepared.

(Reporting by Vitalii Hnidyi in Kharkiv, Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv and Reuters bureaus; writing by Peter Graff; editing by Philippa Fletcher.)

Shelling in Kharkiv
The body of Raisa Kozakova, 85, lies under the debris of her home after a shell hit her garden and killed her while she was collecting peas, according to her grandson, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues in the industrial district in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on June 21, 2022.
LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: UKRAINERUSSIAWAR
What to read next
The 22-year-old Danish male, accused of opening fire on Sunday afternoon on shoppers in the Field's mall a few kilometers south of downtown Copenhagen, was arrested and charged with manslaughter and intent to kill.
Much of Italy has been baking in an early-summer heatwave and scientists said climate change was making previously stable glaciers more difficult to predict.
Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration, said 21 people had been confirmed killed, including a 12-year-old boy. Among the fatalities was an employee of the Children's Rehabilitation Center set up by Ukraine's neighbor Moldova in the resort.
Pictures circulating on social media, still unverified by authorities, showed the bodies of youths lying scattered across the floor of the tavern, some also seen motionless on tables and couches.