By SUSIE BLANN
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia hit Ukraine’s Black Sea regions of Odessa and Mykolaiv with airstrikes Tuesday, targeting private buildings and port infrastructure along the country’s southern coast, the Ukrainian military said. said
Ukraine’s Operational Command South said in a Facebook post that Kremlin forces used air-to-air missiles in the attack.
In the Odesa region, several private buildings in coastal villages were targeted and set on fire, the report said. In the Mykolaiv region, port infrastructure was hit despite agreements reached last week between Moscow and Kyiv to allow the resumption of grain shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
Hours after the attacks, an official stationed in southern Ukraine by Moscow said that the Odesa and Mykolaiv regions would soon be “liberated” from Russian forces, just as they had already captured the Kherson region in the east. has been taken.
“The region of Kherson and the city of Kherson have been liberated forever,” Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Kirill Stremusov, Russia’s appointed official in the region, as saying.
Meanwhile, Russia’s top diplomat reiterated his insistence that Moscow is open to talks with Ukraine to end the war, although he again claimed that Kyiv’s Western allies oppose a deal.
“We have never refused dialogue, because everyone knows that any hostilities end at the negotiating table,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a visit to Uganda on Tuesday.
He said that since the meeting between the two sides in Istanbul at the end of March, the talks have not progressed.
While Ukrainian officials have spoken of possible retaliation in the south, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that there was no indication that a stockpile of Ukrainian warships and anti-ship missiles was in the port of Odessa, as claimed by Moscow. That was when he attacked the place over the weekend. .
The British ministry said Russia views Ukraine’s use of anti-ship missiles as “a significant threat” limiting its Black Sea fleet.
“This significantly undermines the overall attack plan, as Russia cannot actually attempt a surprise attack to capture Odessa,” the military said. “Russia will continue to prioritize efforts to reduce and destroy Ukraine’s anti-ship capability.”
It added that “Russia’s targeting process is likely to be routinely undermined by dated intelligence, poor planning, and a top-down approach to operations.”
In other military developments, at least three civilians were killed and eight wounded in Ukraine by Russian shelling over the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian president’s office said on Tuesday.
In the eastern Donetsk region, where fighting has focused in recent weeks, shelling continued across the front line, with Russian forces taking the region’s largest cities, including Bakhmut, Ivodiuka and Turitsk, the presidential office said. Targeted.
Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko accused Russian troops of using cluster munitions and repeated his call for civilians to evacuate.
“There is not a single safe place left, everything is being shelled,” Kirilenko said in televised remarks. “But there are still evacuation routes for the civilian population.”
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, has reported that Moscow is using mercenaries from the shadowy Wagner Group to seize the Vohledar power plant on the northern outskirts of the village of Novolohansk.
But Russian forces have made “limited gains” there, according to Ukraine’s General Staff.
Right now, Russia’s main focus is on capturing Bakhmut, which the Russian army needs to attack the key Ukrainian strongholds of Donetsk, Slavyansk and Kramatorsk.
The Institute for the Study of War said that “Russian forces have made minor gains south of Bakhmut but are unlikely to effectively exploit these developments to take full control of Bakhmut.”
Russian forces continued to attack civilian infrastructure in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and the surrounding region in the country’s northeast.
Kharkiv Governor Oleh Senyhobov said attacks on the city resumed around Tuesday morning, damaging a car dealership.
“Russian civilians deliberately target infrastructure objects – hospitals, schools, movie theaters,” Senyhobov told Ukrainian television. “Everything is being fired upon, even humanitarian aid lines, so we are urging people to avoid mass gatherings.”
German Foreign Minister Annalina Berbock said Moscow “wants complete domination of Ukraine and its people.”
“We must be prepared for this war – which Russia is waging with absolute brutality, and in a way that no one else will – for months,” Bierbock said during a visit to Prague.
Follow AP’s coverage of the battle.