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Russia launches Patriot missiles at Ukraine after Zelenskyy visits recently retaken city

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked soldiers for their efforts in recapturing the area, much of which was left devastated by Russian forces.

Russian cruise missiles struck central Ukraine Wednesday hours after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the recently retaken city of Izyum.

Ukrainian officials said the eight missiles had struck the central city of Kryvyi Rih which lies to the south of Kharkiv.

The strikes were “aimed at buildings that are critically important for people’s livelihood,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office said in a statement on his Telegram channel.

In a separate posts to his own Telegram channel, Valentyn Reznichenko, the regional governor of Dnipropetrovsk, said the strikes had “targeted critical transport infrastructure facilities,” including a dam.

Preliminary reports suggested there were no casualties but “several districts of Kryvyi Rih remain without running water,” he said.

Earlier, Zelenskyy greeted soldiers and thanked them for their efforts in retaking Izyum, as the Ukrainian flag was raised in front of the burned-out city hall building.

Russian forces left the war-scarred city last week as Ukraine pressed forward in a sweeping counteroffensive that has reclaimed vast swaths of territory in the country’s northeastern Kharkiv region in a matter of days.

Much of Izyum has been devastated. Apartment buildings are blackened by fire and pockmarked by artillery strikes. The entire center of one residential building had collapsed, a gaping hole and piles of rubble where homes used to be.

“The view is very shocking, but it is not shocking for me,” Zelenskyy said in brief comments to the news media, “because we began to see the same pictures from Bucha, from the first de-occupied territories … so the same destroyed buildings, killed people.”

Bucha is a neighborhood near Kyiv where the bodies of civilians, many of them bearing signs of torture, were found dumped in the streets, in mass graves and in yards after Russian forces withdrew hastily in March.

On the northern outskirts of Izyum, the remains of Russian tanks and vehicles lie shattered along the road.

Image:
Zelenskyy visited the recently liberated city on Wednesday, greeting soldiers and thanking them for their efforts in retaking the area.Leo Correa / AP

“Our soldiers are here. That’s a very important thing. It supports people,” Zelenskyy said. “I see how people meet them, in what a sensitive moment. It means that with our army, the life comes back.”

Ukrainian troops have recently carried out a dramatic counteroffensive that has allowed them to recapture large swaths of territory around Kharkiv and inflict a stunning blow on Moscow’s military prestige.

Ukraine's counteroffensive has left more weapons in the hands of its forces as Russian troops most likely left behind dozens of tanks, armored personnel carriers and other heavy weaponry as they fled Ukraine’s advance in the east of the country, a Ukrainian think tank said Wednesday.

The Center for Defense Strategies said one single Russian unit that was around Izyum left behind 39 T-80 tanks and 35 infantry fighting vehicles, known by the acronym BMP. Another unit left behind 47 tanks and 27 armored vehicles.

The center said Russian forces tried to destroy some of the abandoned vehicles through artillery strikes as they fell back. Typically, armed forces destroy equipment left behind so their opponent can’t use it.

However, the chaos of the Russian withdrawal apparently saw them leave untouched ammunition and weapons behind.

Image:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy poses for a selfie with a police officer in Izyum on Wednesday. Leo Correa / AP

In other areas, Russia has continued its attacks over the past day, causing the death toll to keep rising in the war that has now dragged on for more than seven months.

Two people were killed and three injured after Russia attacked Mykolaiv with S-300 missiles overnight, said regional Gov. Vitaliy Kim. An educational institution, infrastructure objects and residential buildings were damaged. Settlements near the front line in Mykolaiv region remain under constant fire.

The Nikopol area, which is across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, was shelled three times during the night, but no injuries were immediately reported, said regional Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko. Nikopol city itself was shelled two times and left almost 3,000 families without electricity. Reznichenko said the electricity has been partially restored.

In the Kharkiv region, where Ukrainian forces have retaken more than 300 cities and villages, the process of demining is underway; three people have been injured over the past 24 hours.

In the neighboring Luhansk region, where some of the Russian troops retreated from the Kharkiv region, mobile internet has been shut down, according to the region’s governor, Serhiy Haidai, and intense shelling of Ukrainian forces continues.

The fighting continued in the Donetsk region as well. Avdiivka, Bakhmut and Kramatorsk have come under a barrage of shelling, which killed five civilians and wounded 16 more.

“Every night in Donbas is restless. The civilians should leave the region. It’s a matter of life and death,” Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.