Russian shelling wrecks houses in Mykolaiv as Ukraine begins counter-offensive

Russian shelling kills two people and destroys homes as Ukraine uses sophisticated Western-supplied weapons



A Ukrainian firefighter takes rest in a factory destroyed by a Russian strike in the city of Slovyansk. — Reuters
A Ukrainian firefighter takes rest in a factory destroyed by a Russian strike in the city of Slovyansk. — Reuters

By Reuters

Published: Mon 29 Aug 2022, 11:34 PM

Ukrainian troops bolstered by stepped-up supplies of Western military aid on Monday started a long-awaited counter-offensive to retake territory in the south from Russian forces, the Ukrainian military said.

Moscow acknowledged a new offensive had been launched but said it had failed and the Ukrainians had suffered significant casualties.

The southern port city of Mykolaiv meanwhile came under heavy Russian shelling, with the mayor saying homes had been hit and at least two people killed.

The offensive came after several weeks of relative stalemate in the war that broke out on February 24. The conflict had largely settled into a war of attrition, mainly in the south and east, marked by artillery bombardments and air strikes.

Russia had captured swathes of Ukraine’s south near the Black Sea coast, including the city of Kherson, in the early phase of the war.

The spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern command, Natalia Humeniuk, said its troops had started offensive actions in several directions in the south, including in the Kherson region which lies north of the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula.

Ukraine has been using sophisticated Western-supplied weapons to hit Russian ammunition dumps and wreak havoc with supply lines. Humeniuk told a briefing Ukraine had struck more than 10 sites in the past week and it had “unquestionably weakened the enemy”.

She declined to give details of the counter-offensive, saying Russian forces in southern Ukraine remained “quite powerful”.

The governor of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, dismissed her announcement as “Ukrainian propaganda”.

In Moscow, the defence ministry said Ukrainian troops had attempted an offensive in southern Mykolaiv and Kherson regions but sustained significant casualties, RIA news agency reported.

“Enemy’s offensive attempt failed miserably,” it said.

RIA news agency, quoting local official Vladimir Leontiev, reported separately that people were being evacuated from workplaces in Nova Kahokva, 58km to the east of Kherson, after Ukrainian forces carried out more than 10 missile strikes.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

West of Kherson, Russian shelling on Monday hit residential areas of Mykolaiv, killing two people and destroying homes, city officials and witnesses said.

A Reuters correspondent at the scene said the strike hit a family home directly next to a school, killing one woman. Both houses on the property were left in ruins, with large craters gouged out of the ground in front.

Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said at least two people had been killed and homes and schools had been hit. Governor Vitaliy Kim said 24 people had also been wounded.

The owner of the home, Olexandr Shulga, told Reuters he had lived there his entire life.

Shulga said his wife — who was in a different room when the missile struck — died when she was buried in debris.

“It hit and the shockwave came. It destroyed everything,” said the shocked Shulga, who had a bandage on his head.

A shipbuilding centre and port on the Southern Bug river just off the Black Sea, Mykolaiv has suffered heavy Russian bombardments throughout the war but remained in Ukrainian hands.


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