Russia steps up strikes on Ukraine amid counterattacks

A soldier stands next to an armored vehicle.
Ukrainian soldiers prepare to fire at Russian forces at a front line in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday.
(Evgeniy Maloletka / Associated Press)

Russian forces on Thursday launched massive missile strikes on Ukraine’s Kyiv and Chernihiv regions, areas that haven’t been targeted in weeks, while Ukrainian officials announced an operation to liberate an occupied region in the country’s south.

Kyiv regional Gov. Oleksiy Kuleba said on the messaging app Telegram that a settlement in the Vyshgorod district of the region was targeted early Thursday morning; an “infrastructure object” was hit. It wasn’t immediately clear whether there were any casualties.

Vyshgorod is about 10 miles north of downtown Kyiv. Kuleba linked the strikes with the Day of Statehood, which Ukraine was marking for the first time on Thursday.


“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 Gov. Viacheslav Chaus reported that multiple missiles were fired from Belarusian territory at the village of Honcharivska.

Russian troops withdrew from the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions months ago, failing to capture either. The renewed strikes on the areas come a day after the leader of pro-Kremlin separatists in the east, Denis Pushilin, publicly called on the Russian forces to “liberate Russian cities founded by the Russian people — Kyiv, Chernihiv, Poltava, Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Lutsk.”

In Ukraine, rooting out those who aid Russia is a tangled, painful process. Hundreds of collaboration cases are being scrutinized.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, also came under a barrage of shelling overnight, Mayor Igor Terekhov said. The southern city of Mykolaiv was fired at as well, with one person sustaining injuries.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military continued to counterattack in the occupied southern region of Kherson, striking a key bridge over the Dnieper River on Wednesday.

Ukrainian media on Thursday quoted Ukraine’s presidential advisor, Oleksiy Arestovych, as saying that the operation to liberate Kherson “has already begun.” Arestovych said Kyiv’s forces were planning to isolate Russian troops there and leave them with three options — to “retreat, if possible, surrender or be destroyed.”


Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, in televised remarks on Wednesday said he was “cautious” in assessing the timeline of the possible counteroffensive.

“I would really like it to be much faster,” he said, adding that “the enemy is now concentrating the maximum number [of forces] precisely in the Kherson direction.”

“A very large-scale movement of their troops has begun; they are gathering additional forces,” Danilov warned.

The British military on Thursday estimated that Ukraine’s counteroffensive in Kherson is “gathering momentum.”

“Their forces have highly likely established a bridgehead south of the [Inhulets] River, which forms the northern boundary of Russian-occupied Kherson,” the British Defense Ministry said Thursday.

The Ukrainians are the ones fighting and dying. It must be up to them to decide when and how to settle with Russia.

It added that Ukraine has used its new long-range artillery to damage at least three of the bridges across the Dnieper River, “which Russia relies upon to supply the areas under its control.” The 0.9-mile-long Antonivskyi Bridge, which Ukrainian forces struck on Wednesday, is likely to be “unusable,” the British ministry concluded.

Ukraine’s presidential office said Thursday morning that Russian shelling of cities and villages over the last 24 hours killed at least five civilians, all of them in the eastern Donetsk region, and wounded nine more.

Fighting in recent weeks has focused on the Donetsk region. It has intensified in recent days as Russian forces appeared to emerge from a reported “operational pause” after cap-
turing the neighboring Luhansk region.

A missile struck a residential building in Toretsk early Thursday morning, destroying two floors. “Missile terror again. We will not give up ... We will not be intimidated,” Donetsk regional Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.

Analysts with the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, believe that Russian forces are focusing on capturing the cities of Bakhmut and Siversk in Donetsk.

“Russian forces have committed enough resources to conduct near-daily ground assaults and to seize territory on these two axes but have been unable to sustain a similar offensive operational tempo or to make similar territorial gains elsewhere in Ukraine,” the institute said.