KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Russian authorities reported shooting down Ukrainian drones in Crimea on Saturday, as Ukrainian officials said Russian forces continued efforts to capture one of the few towns in eastern Ukraine not yet under their control. were control. The Russian army also continued its attacks in northern and southern Ukraine.
In Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, Russian authorities said local air defenses shot down a drone over the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. It was the second drone incident at headquarters in three weeks and followed explosions this month at a Russian airport and ammunition depot on the peninsula.
Oleg Kryuchkov, an aide to Crimea’s governor, also said on Saturday that “attacks by small drones” have activated air defense systems in western Crimea.
“Air defense systems successfully hit all targets over the territory above Crimea on Saturday morning. There are no casualties or property damage,” his boss, Sergei Aksyonov, told Telegram.
Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev said on Telegram that the city’s air defense systems were back in action late Saturday.
The incidents underlined the vulnerability of the Russian armed forces in Crimea. A drone strike on Russia’s naval headquarters in the Black Sea on July 31 injured five people and forced the celebration of Russia’s Naval Day. A Russian ammunition depot in Crimea was hit by an explosion this week. Last week, nine Russian warplanes were destroyed at an airbase in Crimea.
Ukrainian authorities have stopped publicly claiming responsibility. But President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alluded to Ukrainian attacks behind enemy lines after the explosion in Crimea.
Meanwhile, fighting in southern Ukrainian areas just north of Crimea has intensified in recent weeks as Ukrainian forces attempt to drive Russian troops out of towns they have occupied since the start of the six-month-old war.
A Russian rocket attack injured 12 people, including three children, and damaged houses and an apartment building in the town of Voznesensk in the Mykolaiv region on Saturday, Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office said. Two of the children were in serious condition and the governor said one had lost an eye.
A Ukrainian airstrike, meanwhile, struck targets in Melitopol, the largest Russian-controlled city in the Zaporizhzhya region, 100 kilometers (65 miles) north of Crimea, according to Ukrainian and Russian-installed local officials.
The Ukrainian army said on Saturday it had destroyed a prized Russian radar system and other equipment stationed in occupied territories in the southern Zaporizhzhya region. It was not clear whether this was the strike at Melitopol.
“Tonight there were powerful explosions in Melitopol, which the whole city heard,” said Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Ferodov. “According to preliminary data, it was (it was) a precise hit on one of the Russian military bases, which the Russian fascists are trying to re-establish in the airport area for the umpteenth time.”
In the east, Ukraine’s military general staff said on Saturday that intensified fighting was taking place around Bakhmut, a small city whose capture would allow Russia to threaten the two largest remaining Ukrainian cities in the eastern Donbas region.
For weeks, Bakhmut has been a prime target of Moscow’s eastern offensive as the Russian military tries to complete a months-long campaign to capture the entire Donbas, where pro-Moscow separatists have declared two republics that Russia recognized at the beginning of the year. as sovereign states. the war.
A local Ukrainian official on Saturday reported ongoing fighting near four settlements on the border of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, which make up the disputed Donbas region. Luhansk Governor Serhii Haidai did not mention the settlements. Russian forces overran almost all of Luhansk last month and have since focused on capturing Ukrainian-occupied areas of Donetsk.
Russian shelling killed seven civilians in Donetsk province on Friday, including four in Bakhmut, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram on Saturday. The capture of Bakhmut would allow the Russians to push through to the main Ukrainian-occupied cities, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.
Ukraine said Sloviansk and Kramatorsk were targeted on Friday, along with the Kharkiv region to the north, home to Ukraine’s second-largest city.
Local authorities reported renewed Russian shelling overnight along a broad front, including the northern regions of Kharkiv and Sumy, bordering Russia, as well as the eastern regions of Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiv.
In other developments Saturday:
__ Pedestrians in central Kiev took pictures of a large column of burnt-out and captured Russian tanks and infantry carriers on display on a central boulevard in the Ukrainian capital. The display comes just days before Ukraine’s Independence Day on August, which also coincides with six months since the Russian invasion.
__The Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul on Saturday authorized the movement of four outgoing ships carrying 33,300 tons of food from Ukraine under the Black Sea grain agreement. The ships will leave Ukrainian ports on Sunday. The agency will conduct 10 more ship inspections on Sunday. The deal aims to get tons of grain exports in Ukraine safely across the Black Sea through the war.
__ The Interior Ministry of the separatist People’s Republic of Donetsk said an improvised bomb exploded near the zoo in Mariupol, which the city’s mayor was supposed to visit, but the mayor was not injured. Mariupol came under rebel and Russian control after months of intense fighting that ravaged the city.
Kozlowska reported from London.
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