KYIV: Ukraine said the “strongest” shelling by Moscow so far of the southern city Mykolaiv killed a grain tycoon on Sunday, as Russia claimed an attack from a drone wounded six personnel at the headquarters of its Black Sea fleet in annexed Crimea.
AFP journalists witnessed intense Russian bombardment of the eastern town of Bakhmut after President Volodymyr Zelensky called for civilians to leave the front line Donetsk region bearing the brunt of the Kremlin’s offensive.
Russian authorities in the Crimean Black Sea peninsula — seized by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014 — said a small explosive device from a commercial drone, likely launched nearby, hit the navy command in Sevastopol.
The local mayor blamed “Ukrainian nationalists” for the attack that forced the cancellation of festivities in the city marking Russia’s annual holiday celebrating the navy.
Russia says drone attack on navy command in Crimea leaves six personnel wounded
But a spokesman for Ukraine’s Odessa region military administration denied Kyiv — whose nearest positions are some 200 kilometres away — was responsible and called the incident “a sheer provocation”.
“Our liberation of Crimea from the occupiers will be carried out in another way and much more effectively,” spokesman Sergiy Bratchuk wrote on Telegram.
Authorities in Ukraine’s southern city of Mykolaiv said Sunday that widespread Russian bombardments overnight had left at least two civilians dead, as Moscow continued to pummel the sprawling front line. “Mykolaiv was subjected to mass shelling today. Probably the strongest so far,” the city’s mayor Oleksandr Senkevych wrote on Telegram.
The authorities said leading Ukrainian agricultural magnate Oleksiy Vadatursky, 74, and his wife Raisa were killed when a missile struck their house.
Vadatursky, who was ranked Ukraine’s 24th richest man with a fortune worth $430m by Forbes, owned major grain exporter Nibulon and was previously decorated with the prestigious “Hero of Ukraine” award.
First ship carrying grain to leave Ukraine today
The intense bombardments around Ukraine come as the authorities push to restart grain exports under a plan brokered by the UN and Turkey to lift a Russian naval blockade.
A spokesman for the Turkish presidency said there was a “high probability” that a first ship carrying Ukrainian grain could leave Ukraine on Monday.
Strikes also pounded the northeastern regions of Kharkiv and Sumy, near the front line with the Russian forces.
“Today a whole succession of explosions took place... a few buildings are reportedly damaged,” Igor Terekhov the mayor of Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv said.
Sumy regional chief Dmytro Zhyvytsky said that some 50 strikes on Saturday evening had left one person dead and two wounded.
The governor of the Donetsk region, where Moscow is focusing the brunt of its attacks, said three civilians were killed and eight wounded in shelling on Saturday.
Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2022