Ukraine attacked a barracks in the Russian-occupied town of Melitopol, with some Ukrainian sources reporting dozens of Russian casualties.
According to witnesses, 10 explosions were heard, although some of them may have come from Russian anti-aircraft systems. Ukrainian officials claimed dozens of Russian deaths and injuries while Russia conceded a handful of casualties.
Video footage posted on social media showed what was believed to be a Russian barracks in the southern city engulfed in a massive fire, with some claiming the site was used by the Wagner mercenary group.
Another video showed rescue workers in the ruins with several bodies visible.
The site, a former resort and hotel next to a town church known as Hunter’s Halt, was being used as barracks with most of the victims apparently in a dining hall when it was hit.
The strike on Melitopol – apparently with Himars rockets – was one of many overnight on Russian bases. Explosions were also reported overnight in Russian-occupied Crimea, including Sevastopol and Simferopol.
A senior official in eastern Ukraine said on Sunday that Ukrainian forces attacked a hotel where members of Russia’s private military group Wagner were based, resulting in “significant casualties”.
Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Russian-occupied Luhansk region, said forces launched a strike on Saturday against a hotel in the town of Kadiivka, west of the main center of the Lugansk region. Photos posted on Telegram channels showed a building largely reduced to rubble. “Many of those who were there died.”
The Russian Defense Ministry was not immediately available for comment and its claims could not be verified.
The strike on Melitopol came as all non-critical infrastructure in the Ukrainian port of Odessa was without power after Russia used Iranian-made drones on Saturday to strike two energy facilities, leaving 1.5 million people cut off from power. ‘electricity.
“The situation in the Odessa region is very difficult,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.
“Unfortunately, the hits were critical, so it takes more than time to restore power…It doesn’t take hours, but a few days, unfortunately.”
In Melitopol, pro-Moscow authorities said a missile attack on Saturday night left two dead and 10 injured, while the exiled Ukrainian mayor said dozens of “invaders” had been killed.
Reuters could not independently verify reports of the attacks or deaths.
“Air defense systems destroyed two missiles, four hit their targets,” Yevgeny Balitsky, Moscow-appointed governor of the occupied Zaporizhzhia region, told the Telegram messaging app.
He said a “recreation center” where people dined was destroyed during the Ukrainian attack with Himar missiles.
Exiled mayor Ivan Fedorov said on his Telegram channel that the attack hit a church that the Russians had turned into a gathering place.
Vladimir Rogov, another official based in Moscow in the Russian-controlled part of Zaporizhzhia, said a fire caused by the strike had engulfed the recreation center. He posted a video of a burning structure.
Himars multiple rocket launchers were among Ukraine’s most effective weapons during the war, delivering precision fire on hundreds of targets, including Russian command posts. On Friday, the United States said it was sending more aid to kyiv to bolster its air defenses and defeat drones.
The town of Melitopol is seen as the next major target for Ukrainian forces in the south of the country since Ukraine recaptured the major city of Kherson.
While Ukrainian forces are now operating on the eastern bank of the Dnieper, opposite Kherson, and their forces are now able to place Himars rocket systems on the western bank, Russian forces in the city are increasingly threatened.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Melitopol, a major industrial and transport center occupied by Russia since March, was the key to the south.
“All the logistics connecting the Russian forces east of the Kherson region and up to the Russian border near Mariupol go through it,” Arestovych said in a video interview on social media.
“If Melitopol falls, everyone [Russian] the line of defense up to Kherson collapses. Ukrainian forces obtain a direct route to Crimea.
There was no immediate comment from the Ukrainian military on the attacks. Earlier in the day, the Ukrainian Armed Forces Central Command said it had carried out strikes on Melitopol.