Russia is attacking Kyiv for the primary time in weeks, and preventing is raging in jap Ukraine

  • Explosions rock Ukrainian capital; one wounded
  • Kyiv and Moscow both claim wins around Sievierodonetsk
  • Governor says Ukrainian troops control half of city
  • Macron says it’s important not to humiliate Russia

Kyiv, June 5 (Reuters) – Russia hit Ukraine’s capital Kyiv with rockets for the first time in more than a month early on Sunday, while Ukrainian officials said a counterattack on the main battlefield in the east had retaken half of the city of Sieverodonetsk.

After the attack on two outskirts of Kyiv, dark smoke could be seen from many kilometers away. Moscow said it hit a repair shop housing tanks from Eastern Europe.

Ukraine said Russia carried out the attack using long-range air-launched missiles fired from heavy bombers as far as the Caspian Sea – a weapon far more valuable than the tanks Russia allegedly hit.

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At least one person was hospitalized but there were no immediate reports of deaths from the strike – a sudden reminder of war in a capital where normal life has largely returned since Russian forces were driven from its outskirts in March .

“The Kremlin is launching new insidious attacks. Today’s rocket attacks on Kyiv have only one goal – to kill as many as possible,” Ukrainian presidential aide Mikhail Podolyak wrote in a tweet.

Ukraine’s nuclear power plant operator said a Russian cruise missile flew “critically low” over the country’s second largest nuclear power plant.

The attack was the first major attack on Kyiv since late April, when a missile killed a journalist. In recent weeks, Russia has focused its destructive might mostly on the eastern and southern frontlines, although Moscow occasionally strikes elsewhere in what it describes as a campaign to destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure and block Western arms shipments.

Ukraine claims half of SIEVIERODONETSK

Russia has focused its forces on the small eastern factory town of Sievierodonetsk in recent weeks, launching one of the largest ground battles of the war to seize one of the two eastern provinces it claims on behalf of Separatist proxies.

After steadily retreating into the city in recent days, Ukraine launched a counterattack there that reportedly surprised the Russians. After retaking part of the city, Ukrainian forces now controlled half of it and continued to push back the Russians, said Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, which includes Sievierodonetsk.

“It was a difficult situation, the Russians controlled 70 percent of the city, but in the last two days they have been pushed back,” Gaidai said on Ukrainian television. “The city is more or less split in half now.”

The claims could not be independently verified. Both sides say they inflicted huge casualties in Sievierodonetsk, a battle that could determine which side carries the momentum into a protracted war of attrition in the coming months.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that Ukrainian counterattacks there over the past 24 hours were likely to weaken any operational momentum previously gained by Russian forces. Russia is sending poorly equipped separatist fighters into the city to limit the risk to its regular forces, it said.

A man looks at the smoke after explosions were heard as Russia’s attacks on Ukraine continued, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 5, 2022. REUTERS/Edgar Su

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Moscow said its own forces were making advances in the city. The Ukrainian army said Russian forces continued to conduct offensive operations using artillery and controlled the eastern part of Sievierodonetsk.

“The situation is tense, complicated,” Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk told national television on Saturday, saying there were shortages of food, fuel and medicines. “Our military is doing everything to drive the enemy out of the city.”

In neighboring Donetsk province, which Moscow is also claiming on behalf of its separatist proxies, Russian forces have been advancing into territory north of the Seversky Donets River in recent days ahead of Ukraine expecting a push on the major city of Sloviansk.

Ukrainian officials said at least eight people were killed and 11 injured in Russian shelling in the province overnight.

GUNS CRACK LIKE NUTS

In an interview with Russian state television, President Vladimir Putin said Moscow will hit new targets if the West supplies Ukraine with long-range missiles. But he also dismissed the impact of advanced missile systems Washington promised Ukraine last week, saying they would not affect the course of fighting.

The United States is already training Ukrainian troops on its HIMARS missile launchers, which would be able to hit positions far behind Russian lines. Kyiv says such weapons would help change the dynamics of the war.

Putin, in excerpts of his interview quoted by Russian news agencies ahead of the broadcast, said that if the West supplies long-range missiles, “we will hit the targets we haven’t hit yet,” without specifying the targets.

Russian forces have hit Ukrainian weapons systems and “cracked them like nuts,” he said, dismissing the new US missiles as “intended to offset the losses of this military equipment” and are unlikely to change the balance of the battlefield.

Kyiv on Saturday slammed French President Emmanuel Macron for saying it was important not to “humiliate” Moscow and allow the Kremlin an “exit ramp” in future peace talks.

Ukraine has fretted over pressure from some European allies to give up territories in order to reach a truce that would allow Moscow to consolidate its grip on the occupied territories and regroup for future attacks.

“Calls to avoid humiliating Russia can only humiliate France and any other country that would call for it,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted in response to Macron’s comments.

“Because it is Russia that is demeaning itself. We’d all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives.” Read more

In an overnight address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that only Putin could give the order to end the war: “The fact that there is still no such order is obviously a humiliation for the whole world.”

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Reporting by Natalia Zinets, Pavel Polityuk and Lidia Kelly; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Peter Graff; Edited by William Mallard and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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