Ukraine attacks Russian-held Kherson, plans counterattack

Ukraine has said it has carried out a long-range rocket attack against Russian forces and military equipment in southern Ukraine, territory it says it is planning to retake in a counteroffensive using hundreds of thousands of troops.

The attack hit an ammunition dump in the town of Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region and killed 52 Russians, Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday. It came after Washington supplied Ukraine with advanced high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS), which Kyiv says its forces are using with growing efficiency.

A Russian-installed official in Kherson gave a different version of events. Russia’s TASS news agency reported him as saying that at least seven people had been killed and that civilians and civilian infrastructure had been hit.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.

The territory Ukraine struck is one that Russia seized after launching a full-scale invasion on February 24 – what Moscow called “a special military operation”. The area is of strategic importance, with Black Sea access, a once-thriving agricultural industry and a location just north of Russian-annexed Crimea.

Ukrainian government officials have spoken of efforts to marshal up to one million troops and of their aim to recapture southern parts of the country now under Russian control.

Unverified videos posted on social media showed smoke and sparks, followed by an immense fireball erupting into the night sky. Images released by Russian state media showed a wasteland covered in rubble and the remains of buildings.

An official from the Russian-installed local administration said that Ukraine had used HIMARS missiles and that they had destroyed warehouses containing saltpetre, a chemical compound that can be used to make fertiliser or gunpowder. A large explosion resulted.

Vladimir Leontyev, head of the Russia-installed Kakhovka District military-civilian administration, was cited by Russia’s TASS news agency as saying that at least seven people had been killed in the attack and around 60 wounded.

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