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Ukraine strikes Makiivka, triggering a huge explosion in the Russian-occupied city

The Ukrainian army launched a night strike on the Russian-occupied town of Makiivka, showing it could still attack targets deep behind Russian lines as its troops fought grueling trench warfare in a counter-attack. offensive to recover land.

Ukrainian and Russian officials said Tuesday night’s attack in Makiivka was significant, but they differed on whether it hit a military or civilian area. And the strike had symbolic resonance because it was at Makiivka that Ukraine in January inflicted on Russia one of its greatest single-strike casualties since invading Moscow there almost 18 months old.

Video shared online by the Ukrainian military showed a huge ball of fire lighting up the night sky over Makiivka in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. The army said a ‘Russian base’ had ‘ceased to exist’ in the city thanks to Ukrainian forces, while Tass, the Russian state news agency, reported that a man had been killed and 68 civilians injured. Neither claim could be independently verified.

The strike came four weeks into Ukraine’s slow but intense campaign against Russian forces, which dug in the south and east with miles of trenches and minefields across exposed open fields. . Since the start of the counter-offensive, Ukrainian forces have made small progress and on Wednesday, General Oleksiy Hromov, deputy commander of operations at the army general staff, gave some details on their progress.

He said Ukraine had retaken nine settlements in the past month, mostly small farming villages, and about 62 square miles. He also said the “hot contact” line, where Ukraine was directly engaged with Russian troops, was about 745 miles long.

The numbers could not be independently verified, but they seemed consistent with previous New York Times reports – and with the bitter, meter-by-meter nature of the fighting as Ukrainian soldiers and civilians described it. . Russian officials said the Ukrainian campaign was pushed back.

For months, as Ukraine prepared and launched its counter-offensive, and Russia attacked before – staggering on many fronts and capturing only the eastern town of Bakhmut – the two sides exchanged long-range strikes on targets away from the front line.

While Ukraine has used Western-supplied weapons, such as HIMARS rockets, to attack Russian supply lines and arms depots, Russia has frequently targeted civilian centers, bombarding Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, 17 times in May alone.

Although many Russian missiles and drones are shot down by Ukrainian air defense systems, the attacks have left many Ukrainians in Kiev on high alert and ready to run for bomb shelters. Nerves were on edge again on Wednesday after a man detonated an explosive device at a city courthouse, sparking a standoff that left him dead and two injured. Authorities have not named the man and his case does not appear to be war-related.

During the strike on Makiivka on Tuesday evening, videos geotagged by The Times confirmed an explosion on the outskirts of the city: an initial explosion triggered several secondary explosions and flares before triggering a much larger explosion, suggesting that the site could have been an arms depot.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to Ukraine’s claims about the strike, but pro-Russian officials at Makiivka accused Ukraine of using long-range rockets and artillery supplied by the West to attack civilians. Tass quoted a local official, Igor Kimakovsky, as saying HIMARS rockets and artillery hit “peaceful” parts of the city. These claims also could not be independently verified.

It was a HIMARS strike that killed at least 63 Russian soldiers – and possibly hundreds more – at a barracks in Makiivka on New Year’s Day. The attack drew criticism from the Russian military of the from some influential supporters of Moscow’s war effort and led the Russian Defense Ministry to claim that it had launched retaliatory strikes against Ukraine.

At the time, Russian authorities accused their troops in Makiivka of revealing their location using mobile phones, saying the data enabled a strike by Ukrainian forces armed with long-range weapons from Western allies.

Makiivka, near the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, is only about 10 miles from the Ukrainian-held Avdiivka to the northwest – well within the roughly 50-mile range of HIMARS rockets that states States sent to Ukraine. According to military analysts, the HIMARS system is most effective against stationary targets that can be identified in advance and located, such as munitions dumps, infrastructure and troop concentrations.

Anatoly Kurmanayev And Malachi Browne contributed report.

nytimes Eur

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