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Ukraine launches missile attack on Russian-occupied Melitopol


Multiple explosions were reported in the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, southern Ukraine, the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and annexed Crimea, including at a Russian military barracks.

The blasts in Melitopol came as officials from both sides reported Ukraine launched a missile attack on the city on Saturday, while Russian state media said 20 missiles hit the Donetsk People’s Republic Sunday morning.

Separately, there have also been reports of multiple explosions in Russia’s annexed Crimea, including at a military barracks in Sovietske.

Moscow-based Melitopol administrators said four missiles hit the city, killing two people and injuring 10, while the mayor of Melitopol reported several explosions, including at a church occupied by Russian forces.

However, Ukrainian officials have not commented on the explosions in Crimea or the Donetsk People’s Republic and CNN is unable to verify the cause of the explosions or the extent of the damage.

Melitopol, in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Oblast, has been under Russian occupation since early March.

Yevgeny Balitsky, Russia’s acting governor in Zaporizhzhia, said the missile attack on Melitopol had “completely destroyed” a recreation center where “people, civilians and [military] base personnel were having dinner on Saturday night.

The strikes were acknowledged by Ivan Fedorov, the former Ukrainian administrator of the city of Melitopol, who said they targeted Russian military bases.

Federov said last month that Russia had turned Melitopol into “a giant military base”.

“The Russian military is moving into seized local houses, schools and kindergartens. Military equipment is parked in residential areas,” Federov said in November.

Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov said there had been several explosions, including at the Christian church in Melitopol, “which the occupants took over several months ago and made it their hiding place”.

Fedorov, who is not in Melitopol, said there were dead and wounded among the Russian forces there.

Meanwhile, Russian officials said on Sunday morning that Ukrainian missiles hit several apartment buildings in the Donetsk People’s Republic and some landed near the Opera and Ballet Theater and Kalinin Hospital.

Alexei Kulemzin, head of the Russian-backed city administration, said Ukraine launched around 5:54 a.m. local time on Sunday 20 Grad missiles towards Voroshilovskaya and Kalininsky districts.

Kulemzin said Ukraine also shelled the city’s Kyivskiy district late Saturday evening around 11:03 p.m. local time.

The Ukrainian military has yet to confirm or comment on the attack.

Donetsk has been in the hands of Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

The attack on Melitopol came amid footage circulating on social media and several explosions in the Crimean town of Simferopol around 9 p.m. local time on Saturday.

Explosions were also reported in Sevastopol, the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet; in a Russian military barracks in Sovietske; and in Hvardiiske, Dzhankoi and Nyzhniohirskyi

The blasts come after Moscow stepped up its missile attacks on Ukraine last week, following Russian claims that Kiev was behind recent drone strikes at military airfields deep within its territory. .

There are conflicting accounts regarding the explosions in Crimea.

The unofficial Crimean media portal “Krymskyi veter” said an explosion at a Russian military barracks in Sovietske set the barracks on fire and there were deaths and injuries.

However, a pro-Russian Crimean channel claimed the fire at the barracks was caused by “reckless handling of fire”.

“Two people died. Now all the soldiers, about two hundred people, are housed in another room,” he said.

Sergey Aksenov, the Russian-appointed leader of Crimea, said on Telegram: “The air defense system worked over Simferopol. All services are operating as usual.

Mikhail Razvozhaev, governor of Sevastopol, said the explosions were due to firing exercises.

The news comes amid reports that 1.5 million people in Ukraine’s Odessa region have been left without power following strikes by Iranian-made drones.

“In total, Russian terrorists used 15 Shahed drones against Odessa,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his daily address on Saturday.

He said the “Ukrainian Sky Defenders” had shot down 10 of the 15 drones, but the damage was still “critical” and he suggested it would take a few days to restore electricity supplies to the area.

“Only critical infrastructure is connected and as far as it is possible to supply electricity,” he said.

Ukraine has been facing a massive attack on its critical infrastructure and energy sources since early October. This has left millions of people across the country facing power outages amid freezing winter temperatures.

“In general, emergency and stabilization power cuts continue in various regions,” Zelensky said. “The electrical system is now, to say the least, very far from a normal state.”

Odessa was already among the most affected regions after previous Russian attacks on critical infrastructure.

“This is the real attitude of Russia towards Odessa, towards the people of Odessa – deliberate intimidation, deliberate attempt to wreak havoc on the city,” Zelensky added.

Ukraine received on Saturday “a new support package from Norway in the amount of $100 million” which will be used “precisely for the restoration of our energy system after these Russian strikes”, Zelensky added.

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