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Russia, Ukraine launch tit-for-tat attacks, five dead in Crimea and one killed in Kharkiv

Ukrainian drones and missiles killed five people in annexed Crimea and another in Belgorod, while Russian bombings have killed four people in two days so far. Russia blamed the United States for the attack on Crimea and threatened to respond accordingly.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Kyiv Published on: June 23, 2024 20:57 IST
Russia Ukraine war
Image Source : REUTERS The aftermath of a Russian strike in Ukraine's Kharkiv city on Saturday.

Kyiv: Russian authorities said six people, including two children, were killed and over 100 people were wounded after Ukraine launched several drones and missiles in retaliation for Moscow's bombing of the Kharkiv city on Saturday that resulted in three casualties while 52 others were injured. Moreover, a fresh bombing of Kharkiv on the second day of its assault killed one person and injured three persons on Sunday.

Five people, including the two children, were killed by falling debris when five Ukrainian missiles were shot down in Sevastopol, a port city in Russia-annexed Crimea, said Mikhail Razvozhayev, the city's Moscow-installed governor. One person was killed and three injured in Russia's Belgorod region, bordering Ukraine. 

The Health Ministry said 124 people were wounded in the attack, and a one-day mourning will be observed on Monday. Russia said the United States was responsible for a Ukrainian attack as Kyiv attacked Crimea with five US-supplied missiles. The Russian Defence Ministry said four of the US-delivered Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles, equipped with cluster warheads, were shot down by air defence systems and the ammunition of a fifth had detonated in mid-air.

"Responsibility for the deliberate missile attack on the civilians of Sevastopol is borne above all by Washington, which supplied these weapons to Ukraine, and by the Kyiv regime, from whose territory this strike was carried out," the ministry said. The United States began supplying Ukraine with longer-range ATACMS missiles, which have a 300-km range, earlier this year.

Russia will respond to Sunday's attack, the Defence Ministry said, without elaborating. The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin has been "in constant contact with the military" since the attack on Sevastopol. Neither Ukraine nor the United States has commented on the attack, coming one day after Russia's attack on Kharkiv.

Russian assault in Kharkiv

One person was killed and ten others wounded as Russian strikes on Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv resumed on Sunday, according to regional governor Oleh Synehubov. "The occupiers have conducted strikes on the civilian infrastructure of Kharkiv," the governor said. Russia has regularly bombed Kharkiv throughout Moscow's 28-month full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Sunday's attacks came after Russia struck Kharkiv on Saturday afternoon with four aerial bombs, hitting a five-story residential building and killing three people while 52 others were wounded. Syniehubov said that 41 people were still being treated for injuries on Sunday. In a video address following the attack, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Ukraine's partners to bolster its air defences.

"This Russian terror through guided bombs must be stopped and can be stopped," Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram. "We need strong decisions from our partners to enable us to stop the Russian terrorists and Russian military aviation right where they are." The Ukrainian President said Russian forces used more than 2,400 guided bombs on Ukrainian targets in June alone, with about 700 aimed at Kharkiv.

Kharkiv lies about 30 km (20 miles) from the border with Russia. The city of 1.3 million people has frequently been targeted in Russian attacks during nearly 28 months of war. Russian troops are currently about 20 km (12.43 miles) from the city's outskirts, having gained some ground in an offensive launched in May from the border.

A Russia-Ukraine ceasefire?

Earlier this month, prior to the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland, Putin said he would order an "immediate" ceasefire if Kyiv starts withdrawing from four regions occupied by Moscow's forces and renounces its plans to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). He said his proposal is aimed at a “final resolution” of the conflict in Ukraine rather than “freezing it", stressing that the Kremlin is “ready to start negotiations without delay.”

These conditions were rejected by Ukraine as "manipulative" and "absurd". Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who hosted the G7 Summit that reached a $50 billion loan deal for Ukraine, dismissed the offer as "propaganda". Over 90 countries took part in the talks, and the vast majority of them signed up to the final declaration, which called for respecting Ukraine's territorial integrity and demanded Russia to withdraw its troops. 

India, Saudi Arabia and other countries opted out of signing the declaration. "India’s participation in the Summit, as well as in the preceding NSA/Political Director-level meetings based on Ukraine’s Peace Formula, was in line with our consistent approach to facilitate a lasting and peaceful resolution to the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy. We continue to believe that such a resolution requires a sincere and practical engagement between the two parties to the conflict," said the Ministry of External Affairs.

The declaration also insisted that any threat or use of nuclear weapons in the context of the ongoing war against Ukraine is inadmissible and attacks on merchant ships in ports and along the entire route, as well as against civilian ports and civilian port infrastructure, are unacceptable. It also called for the release of all prisoners of war and the active involvement of all parties in dialogue.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | UK politician Nigel Farage sparks criticism for saying West 'provoked' Putin to attack Ukraine

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