Ukrainian rocket strike targets Russian ammunition depot in occupied territory

Ukrainian soldiers run across a street as smoke rises nearby
Ukrainian soldiers run after a Russian missile strike hit a residential area in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine.
(Nariman El-Mofty / Associated Press)

The Ukrainian military on Tuesday reported destroying a Russian ammunition depot in southern Ukraine, resulting in a massive explosion captured on social media, while authorities said the death toll from a weekend Russian strike in the country’s east had grown to 45.

An overnight rocket strike targeted the depot in Russian-held Nova Kakhovka, the Ukrainian military’s southern command said. Nova Kakhovka is about 35 miles east of the Black Sea port city of Kherson, which is also occupied by Russian forces.

The precision of the strike suggested Ukrainian forces used U.S-supplied multiple-launch high-mobility artillery rocket systems to hit the area. Ukraine indicated in recent days that it might launch a counteroffensive to reclaim territory in the country’s south as Russia bombards the eastern Donbas region.

Russia’s Tass news agency offered a different account of the blast in Nova Kakhovka, saying that a mineral fertilizer storage facility exploded, and that a market, hospital and houses were damaged. Some of the ingredients in fertilizer can be used to formulate explosives.

A satellite photo taken Tuesday and analyzed by the Associated Press showed significant damage. A massive crater remained precisely where a large warehouse-like structure once stood in the city.


Ukraine now has eight of the artillery rocket systems — truck-mounted missile launchers with high accuracy — and Washington has promised to send four more.

Russian assaults on Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, kill at least three people and injure scores more, including children, official says.

Explosions were reported late Tuesday in Luhansk, a city in the Donbas that has been under the control of Russia-backed separatists since 2014, with videos posted on social media. A spokesman for the separatist forces, Andrei Marochko, said the Ukrainian army had dealt a “massive blow” to the air defense system in Luhansk, the Russian news agency Interfax reported. He said there was no word yet on any casualties. There was no immediate information from the Ukrainian government or military.

“The occupiers have already felt what modern artillery is like, and their rear will not be safe anywhere on our land that they have occupied,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address. “They have felt that the operations of our intelligence officers for defending their homeland are of a magnitude stronger than any of their special operations.”

Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russian shelling over the last 24 hours killed at least 16 civilians and wounded 48 more, Ukraine’s presidential office said in its Tuesday morning update. Cities and towns in five southeast regions came under Russian fire, the office said.

Nine civilians were killed and two more wounded in Donetsk province, which makes up half of the Donbas region. Russian rocket attacks targeted the cities of Slovyansk and Toretsk, where a kindergarten was hit, the presidential office said.

The British military said Tuesday that Russia is continuing to make “small, incremental gains” in Donetsk, where heavy fighting led the province’s governor last week to urge its 350,000 remaining residents to move to safer places in western Ukraine.

The death toll from a Russian rocket attack that struck a Donetsk apartment building Saturday rose to 45, the emergency services agency said late Tuesday. It said workers found more bodies and rescued nine people as they dug through the rubble of the five-story building in Chasiv Yar throughout the day.

Yet many in the Donbas, a fertile industrial region made up of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, refuse — or are unable — to flee, despite scores of civilians being killed and wounded each week.

A Ukrainian filmmaker records the voices of war. She listens to Ukrainians and Russians in collecting a haunting oral history of the conflict.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and its surrounding region, Russian strikes hit residential buildings, killing four civilians and wounding nine, Ukrainian officials said.

“The Russians continue their tactics of intimidating the peaceful population of the Kharkiv region,” Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Sinegubov wrote Tuesday on Telegram.

Ukrainian authorities also said that Russian fire struck the southern city of Mykolaiv on Tuesday morning, hitting residential buildings. Twelve people were wounded as a result of the shelling, with some of the rockets hitting two medical facilities, regional Gov. Vitaliy Kim said on Telegram.

Air-raid sirens sounded early Tuesday morning in the western city of Lviv — the first daytime sirens there in over a week — and other areas of Ukraine as Russian forces continued to make advances.

In Luhansk, “fighting continues near the villages” on the administrative border with neighboring Donetsk, Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said Tuesday.

“The Russian army burns down everything in its way. The artillery barrage doesn’t stop and sometimes continues for four to six hours on end,” Haidai said.

The British Defense Ministry’s intelligence briefing said Russia had seized the Ukrainian town of Hryhorivka and continued to push toward the Donetsk cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk.

A senior defense official says the U.S. will send another $400 million in military equipment to Ukraine, including four advanced rocket systems.

“Russian forces are likely maintaining military pressure on Ukrainian forces whilst regrouping and reconstituting for further offensives in the near future,” the intelligence briefing said.

However, Russia may be relying more heavily on private forces, such as the Wagner mercenary group, to avoid a general mobilization, the British said. Western officials have accused Wagner of using mercenaries to fight in Africa and elsewhere.

The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin would visit Iran next Tuesday to attend a meeting with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, a format for Syria-related talks. U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters Monday that Russia was seeking hundreds of surveillance drones from Iran, including weapons-capable ones, for use in Ukraine.

Russian and Turkish military representatives also plan to meet in Istanbul on Wednesday to discuss the transportation of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said.

A wife and mother is killed in her courtyard during Russian shelling. Her husband won’t let go of the body.

Pyotr Ilyichyov, head of the ministry’s department for international organizations, told Russian news agency Interfax that “representatives of Ukraine, as well as U.N. [officials] in the role of observers,” are expected to take part in the talks. Ilyichyov reiterated that Moscow was ready “to assist in ensuring the navigation of foreign commercial ships for the export of Ukrainian grain.”

At a meeting with his European Union counterparts in Prague, German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said that investigating war crimes in Ukraine would likely take “many years” but he was confident the effort would ultimately be successful. He said there will probably be “hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of pieces of evidence that have to be sifted through, documented and evaluated.” The German federal prosecutor’s office said in early March that it had started looking into possible war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.