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Russia strikes Kyiv, Zelenskiy says Moscow’s forces being “destroyed”

Kyiv, Ukraine

Russia on Tuesday struck military and infrastructure targets in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and across other parts of the country, including western areas far from the front lines, Ukrainian officials said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised Ukraine’s air defences for downing more than 30 drones and defiantly said that Ukraine’s forces were destroying Russian forces in the two main theatres of the conflict, the east and south.

An agricultural worker operates a tractor as smoke rises in the distance after a military strike, in Kherson region, Ukraine, on 20th June, 2023.

An agricultural worker operates a tractor as smoke rises in the distance after a military strike, in Kherson region, Ukraine, on 20th June, 2023. PICTURE: Reuters/Andrii Dubchak

His commander of land forces and the deputy defence minister reported successes with a counter-offensive in both areas.


The destruction of the vast Kakhovka hydro-electric dam has caused €1.2 billion of damage, Ukraine’s environment minister said on Tuesday, warning that mines unearthed by flooding could wash onto other European countries’ shores.

The collapse of the Russian-held dam on 6th June unleashed floodwaters across southern Ukraine and Russian-occupied areas of the Kherson region, killing more than 50 people and destroying homes and farmland.

Speaking by video-link to a meeting of European Union countries’ environment ministers, Ukrainian Environment Minister Ruslan Strilets said assessments of the damage was ongoing but the dam collapse was already the largest environmental disaster since Russia’s February, 2022, invasion.

“There are things that we can never restore. These are the ecosystems that were washed away into the Black Sea. This includes 20,000 animals that probably died, including endemic species that were only found in southern Ukraine,” he said.

Strilets did not specify what comprised the estimated €1.2 billion in damage, but said the dam collapse had left around a million people without drinking water after the Kakhovka reservoir’s volume plunged by three quarters, and debris would be washed into other countries.

“Europe will find Russian mines on its beaches,” he said.

Ukraine accuses Russia of blowing up the Soviet-era dam, under Russian control since the early days of its invasion. The Kremlin accused Kyiv of sabotaging the hydroelectric facility.

A team of international legal experts assisting Ukraine’s prosecutors in their investigation said it was “highly likely” the dam’s collapse was caused by explosives planted by Russians.

European Union environment policy chief Virginijus Sinkevicius said EU countries were coordinating emergency supplies of boats, shelters, water dams, medical materials and water purifiers.

In response to the dam breach, Poland said Russia should be suspended from the Intergovernmental International Renewable Energy Agency, and it asked the EU to coordinate a bloc-wide call for this – a call that Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia endorsed during the environment ministers’ meeting.

– KATE ABNETT, Brussels, Belgium; additional reporting by TOM BALMFORTH/Reuters

Russia’s Defence Ministry said that Russian forces hit and destroyed eight ammunition warehouses across Ukraine in the prior 24 hours and repelled Ukrainian attacks in three areas. 

It said Ukrainian forces had tried to attack the Russian-held eastern city of Donetsk and the southern Zaporizhzhia region, but had been repelled. 

Zelenskiy’s office said drones attacked the Kyiv region in several waves over more than four hours.

Also on Tuesday, Ukrainian forces struck the Russian-controlled town of Nova Kakhovka in the southern Kherson region with drones, killing a women and wounding four civilians, local Russian-appointed authorities said.

Focus on counter-offensive
The Russian attacks took place as attention has been focused on Ukrainian actions against Russia’s defensive positions in the south and east – the initial stages of a counter offensive seeking to push President Vladimir Putin’s troops back from territory seized since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Kyiv says it has recaptured 113 square kilometres of land and eight settlements from Russian forces. But the latest strikes showed that Russia was capable of waging war beyond the front lines.

In his nightly video address, Zelenskiy said Ukrainian forces “in the south and east are actively destroying the enemy, physically cleansing Ukraine.

“A defence against terror means destroying terrorists. And it is a guarantee that the state of evil will never have the opportunity to bring evil to Ukraine.”

General Oleksander Syrskyi, Ukraine’s commander of land forces, said on Telegram that his troops were making progress on the flanks of the shattered eastern city of Bakhmut, which fell to Russian mercenaries last month after months of fighting.

Ukrainian troops, he said, were repelling increasingly intense Russian attacks near Kupiansk in the north-east.

Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said Ukrainian forces in the south were “gradually, in small steps, but very confidently, making advances. We could even use the allegory that we are carving up every metre of land from the enemy.”

Maliar said Russian forces had mined vast areas, including towns. Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, accused Russia of “mining” the pond used to cool reactors at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Zelenskiy’s office said several commercial and administrative buildings and some private houses were damaged in the Russian drone attacks on the Kyiv area. There was no mention of any casualties in the overnight air strikes.

A “critically important facility” was struck in Lviv, far from the front lines and around 70 kilometres from the border with Poland, regional Governor Maksym Kozytskiy said, without giving details.

The air force said Ukrainian air defences had been in action, mostly in the Kyiv region, where more than two dozen Iranian-made Shahed drones were destroyed.

The Energy Ministry said debris from falling drones damaged power lines in the Kyiv region and also in the Mykolaiv region in the south, cutting electricity for hundreds of residents.

The air force said Russia had also targeted infrastructure in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia with Iskander and S-300 missiles. Ukraine’s military said Russia had fired seven missiles at Zaporizhzhia.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

A view shows a crater at a site of an industrial area destroyed by a Russian missile strike in the village of Rozumivka, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on 20th June, 2023.

A view shows a crater at a site of an industrial area destroyed by a Russian missile strike in the village of Rozumivka, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on 20th June, 2023. PICTURE: Reuters/Stringer

Russian minister: Ukraine wants to hit Crimea
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow had information that Ukraine was planning to strike Russian-controlled Crimea with longer-range US and British missiles and warned Russia would retaliate if that happened.

Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea from Ukraine in 2014, but considers it to be outside the scope of its “special military operation” in eastern and southern Ukraine.

“The use of these missiles outside the zone of our special military operation would mean that the United States and Britain would be fully dragged into the conflict and would entail immediate strikes on decision-making centres in Ukraine,” Shoigu told a meeting of military officials.

Shoigu also said Ukrainian armed forces had carried out 263 attacks on Russian forces’ positions since 4th June, referring to what Moscow regards as the start of Ukraine’s counter-offensive. But it had “not accomplished its goals”, he said.

Ukraine says it has recaptured eight villages.



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