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Russia launches missile attack as Ukrainian troops hold ground

A Ukrainian serviceman of an anti-aircraft unit from the 24th mechanized brigade readies a mobile short-range surface-to-air missile system Strela-10 (SAM) for combat at a position in the Donetsk region, on June 11, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Russia launched a large-scale missile and drone attack across Ukraine overnight, the second such assault this month, as Kyiv’s top military commander said the advance of Kremlin forces has largely stalled on the front line.

Ukrainian air defenses downed five of six missiles and all 24 explosive-laden Shahed drones over its central, southern and eastern regions, the country’s air force command said early Wednesday on Telegram.

Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, Oleksandr Syrskyi, meanwhile said Russian forces had failed to make significant progress along the 1,200-kilometer (750-mile) front line over the last week, according to a Facebook post Wednesday, even as Russia said its forces had taken a number of villages in the east.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, en route to Italy to join a Group of Seven meeting as part of a diplomatic tour, touted the repulsed missile-and-drone attack as underscoring the urgent need for more air defense. The barrage came ahead of Russia’s National Day, a public holiday.

“Such a result in protecting lives can be our daily achievement if we have enough tools to repel terrorist attacks,” Zelenskyy said on social media platform X, a day after securing fresh commitments from allies for military hardware at a conference in Berlin. He’ll meet with U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

All missiles and drones targeting Kyiv were downed before they reached the capital, the city’s military administration said on Telegram. The falling debris, however, injured one person in the surrounding region and caused a massive fire at an undisclosed industrial facility.

In the Dnipropetrovsk region in central Ukraine, the drone barrage injured at least two people and damaged nine residential buildings, regional Governor Serhiy Lysak said on Telegram.

On Tuesday, Zelenskyy attended a conference in Berlin focusing on reconstruction and inspected a military base in northern Germany where Ukrainian troops trained to operate Patriot air-defense systems, one of the most effective means of protecting against missile barrages.

Germany pledged several thousands strike drones and 100 additional Patriot guided-missiles to Kyiv during Zelenskyy’s visit. Italy said it’s readying another military package for Kyiv that will include a SAMP-T defense system.

Russian authorities in the annexed Crimea region reported downing Ukrainian missiles overnight over Sevastopol, with debris falling on some streets in the city, the RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing the local Kremlin-appointed governor, Mikhail Razvozhayev.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has regularly reported making gains in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, though troops have so far failed to capture strategic towns such as Chasiv Yar northeast of Donetsk or Vovchansk north of Kharkiv.

In northwestern Russia, President Vladimir Putin’s forces trained in an exercise to operate launchers able to fire tactical nuclear weapons, the next phase of its joint drills with ally Belarus.

While the Russian military continued attacks along the front line, it also paraded Iskander-M missile launchers as part of the latest phase of its tactical nuclear weapon drills, a show of strength to Kyiv and its allies. The units in the Leningrad region surrounding St. Petersburg practiced loading “special training ammunition” on the systems, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a post on Telegram.


© 2024 Bloomberg L.P

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