Russian strikes on the central Ukrainian region of Kirovohrad on July 28 killed five people and wounded more than two dozen others, a regional governor said, as Ukraine pushed ahead with its drive to retake the southern Kherson region.
The Russian strikes hit the city of Kropyvnytskiy, some 300 kilometers south of Kyiv. Andriy Raykovich, the regional governor, said in a video on social media that two hangars were hit. He said 25 people had been taken to hospital and five died.
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Interfax-Ukraine quoted city officials as saying the attack damaged aircraft, aviation equipment, and nearby buildings. The news agency quoted Raykovich as saying there were 12 soldiers among the wounded.
Russian missile strikes also hit the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Mykolayiv, and Kharkiv. The attack on the Kyiv region — the first in weeks — hit a military unit in a village on the outskirts of the capital, according to Oleksii Hromov, a senior official with Ukraine’s General Staff.
The attack ruined one building and damaged two others, he said, adding that Ukrainian forces shot down one of the missiles.
Fifteen people were wounded in the strikes, five of them civilians, Kyiv regional Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said.
Kuleba linked the assaults to the Day of Statehood, a commemoration that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy instituted last year and Ukraine marked for the first time on July 28.
“Russia, with the help of missiles, is mounting revenge for the widespread popular resistance, which the Ukrainians were able to organize precisely because of their statehood,” Kuleba told Ukrainian television. “Ukraine has already broken Russia’s plans and will continue to defend itself.”
Chernihiv regional Governor Vyacheslav Chaus reported that the Russians fired missiles from Belarus at the village of Honcharivska. The Chernihiv region had not been targeted in weeks.
There also also has been heavy shelling along the entire front line in the eastern Donetsk region as Russian forces targeted Bakhmut and other cities.
Four people were killed in Bakhmut in an attack on a hotel, the State Emergency Service in Donetsk region reported on Facebook. The two-story hotel was partially destroyed due to shelling.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south is aimed at taking back the city of Kherson. Regaining control would give Ukrainian forces a foothold to reclaim parts of the Black Sea coast.
The city, which had a population of 290,000 before the war, is currently under a Moscow-appointed administration after falling early on in the war.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin early on July 28 that Ukraine’s counteroffensive in Kherson was gathering momentum and has “highly likely established a bridgehead south of the Ingulets River, which forms the northern boundary of Russian-occupied Kherson.”
Ukraine says it has retaken some small settlements on the region’s northern edge in recent weeks as it tries to push Russian forces back.
U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith told RFE/RL in an interview that the Ukrainian military commanders can determine themselves the next steps in the counteroffensive, but NATO wants to hear which systems would be most useful.
“We will continue to do everything we can to support Ukrainian military on the ground and make sure that they have what they need so that they can prevail in this conflict and stop Russian aggression,” she said.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its planes had attacked a Ukrainian infantry brigade in the far north of the Kherson region and killed more than 130 of its soldiers in the last 24 hours.
Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-appointed military-civilian administration running the Kherson region, has dismissed Western and Ukrainian assessments of the battlefield situation in the region.
“All these counteroffensives that result in a large number of Ukrainian casualties are coming to nothing,” Stremousov told Russia’s RIA news agency on July 27.
A U.S. lawmaker said earlier that more than 75,000 Russian soldiers — about half the force sent by Moscow to invade Ukraine in February — are believed to have been killed or wounded.
Representative Elissa Slotkin (Democrat-Michigan) who spoke to CNN after attending a classified briefing with officials from President Joe Biden’s administration, said the figure was “huge.”
Military casualties are a state secret in Russia even in peace time, and there are no updated official figures available on Moscow’s military’s death toll. The most recent CIA estimate was that 15,000 Russian forces had been killed in fighting and three times that number wounded.
Slotkin, who recently returned from a trip to Ukraine, said the next three to six weeks could be crucial for the direction the conflict would take.
“I think that what we heard very firmly from President Zelenskiy and reinforced today is that the Ukrainians really want to hit Russia in the teeth a few times before the winter comes, put them in the best position possible, particularly hitting them down south,” Slotkin said.