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AP and Reuters

Russian air strikes hit Kyiv, other Ukrainian cities far from front lines

2023-06-20T15:25:57Z

Sirens were heard wailing in Ukraine’s capital on Tuesday (June 20) as Russia launched a widespread overnight air attack targeting multiple cities from east to west.

Russia on Tuesday struck at military and infrastructure targets in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and across other parts of the country, including western areas far from the front lines, Ukrainian officials said.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said for its part that Russian forces had hit and destroyed eight ammunition warehouses across Ukraine in the last 24 hours and repelled Ukrainian attacks in three different directions.

Also on Tuesday, Ukrainian forces struck the Russian-controlled town of Nova Kakhovka in the southern Kherson region with drones and three civilians were wounded, TASS news agency reported, citing the local Russian-appointed authorities.

The Russian attacks took place as attention has been focused on Ukrainian actions against Russia’s defensive positions in the south and east – the initial stages of a counteroffensive seeking to push President Vladimir Putin’s troops back from territory seized since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Kyiv says it has already recaptured 113 square km (44 square miles) of land from Russian forces. But the latest strikes showed that Russia was well capable of waging war beyond the southern and eastern front lines.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said drones attacked the Kyiv region in several waves, with the air alert lasting for over four hours.

Several commercial and administrative buildings and some private houses were damaged, it said. There was no mention of any casualties in the overnight air strikes.

Ukraine said it had shot down 32 of 35 Iranian-made Shahed drones fired from Russia’s Bryansk region and the Azov Sea.

But a “critically important facility” was struck in Lviv, far from the front lines and around 70 km (43 miles) from the border with Poland, regional governor Maksym Kozytskiy said. He gave no other details.

The air force said Ukrainian air defences had been in action in most regions.

“However, the main direction of attack by Iranian drones was the Kyiv region. More than two dozen Shaheds were destroyed here,” it said on Telegram.

The Energy Ministry said debris from falling drones damaged electricity lines in the Kyiv region and also in the Mykolaiv region in the south, cutting off electricity for hundreds of residents.

The air force said Russia had also hit the southeastern industrial city of Zaporizhzhia with Iskander and S-300 missiles.

Yuriy Malashko, head of the Zaporizhzhia region’s military administration, said Russia had targeted telecommunication infrastructure and agriculture and farming properties.

Ukraine’s military said Russia had fired seven missiles at Zaporizhzhia.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

The Russian Defence Ministry said Ukrainian forces had attempted attacks towards the Russian-held eastern city of Donetsk and south of it as well as the southern Zaporizhzhia region but they had been repelled.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow had information that Ukraine was planning to strike Russian-controlled Crimea with longer-range U.S. and British missiles and warned Russia would retaliate if that happened.

Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea from Ukraine in 2014, but considers it to be outside the scope of what it calls its “special military operation” focused on eastern and southern Ukraine.

“The use of these missiles outside the zone of our special military operation would mean that the United States and Britain would be fully dragged into the conflict and would entail immediate strikes on decision-making centres in Ukraine,” Shoigu told a meeting of military officials.

Shoigu also said Ukrainian armed forces had carried out 263 attacks on Russian forces’ positions since June 4, referring to what Moscow regards as the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

“Thanks to the smart and selfless actions of our units all of them have been repelled, the enemy has not accomplished its goals,” Shoigu said.

Ukraine says it has recaptured eight villages in the early stages of its counteroffensive.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said it saw scant chance of peace talks with Ukraine due to Kyiv’s stance – which demands a total withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine before any peacemaking – despite the efforts of a mediating mission by African leaders.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to root out security threats posed by Kyiv’s pursuit of integration with the West. Kyiv and Western supporters say Russia is waging an unprovoked war of conquest.

Putin had held “very productive” talks with African leaders on Saturday and remained open to dialogue and contacts on Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

But Peskov told reporters that what he called the history of Kyiv’s position meant “one can hardly talk about stable grounds” for peace negotiations.

Related Galleries:

An explosion of a drone is seen in the sky over the city during a Russian drone strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 20, 2023. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

An explosion of a drone is seen in the sky over the city during a Russian drone strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 20, 2023. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

An explosion of a drone is seen in the sky over the city during a Russian drone strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 20, 2023. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Smoke rises in the sky over the city after a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 20, 2023. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian servicemen of the 30th Kostiantyn Ostrozkyi Separate Mechanized Brigade fire from a T-80 main battle tank captured earlier from Russian troops, in a field near the front line town of Bakhmut in Donetsk region, Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko
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