Ukraine announced on Tuesday that it had conducted a successful long-range rocket assault against Russian forces in southern Ukraine, a territory it plans to recover with hundreds of thousands of troops in a counter-offensive.
According to Ukraine, 52 Russians were killed after a strike attacked a munitions depot in the town of Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson area. It occurred after the United States supplied Ukraine with HIMARS mobile artillery systems, which Kyiv claims its soldiers are beginning to employ with increasing effectiveness.
A Russian-installed official in Kherson provided an alternative explanation. According to him, at least seven individuals were killed, and civilians and civilian infrastructure were damaged in the Ukrainian attack.
Reuters was unable to confirm the battlefield reports independently.
The territory that Ukraine attacked is one that Russian forces seized after launching what Moscow termed "a special military operation" on February 24. It is strategically significant due to its access to the Black Sea, once-thriving agricultural industry, and location just north of Russian-annexed Crimea.
Officials from the Ukrainian administration have discussed their efforts to amass up to one million troops and their intention to retake economically and politically significant regions of the country's south that are under Russian control.
According to the results of our rocket and artillery units, the enemy in Nova Kakhovka lost 52, a Msta-B howitzer, a mortar, seven armored and other vehicles, and a munitions depot.
Unverified social media videos depicted smoke and sparkles, followed by an enormous fireball exploding in the night sky. Images showed streets littered with debris and burnt houses.
Images published by Russian official media depicted a wasteland strewn with debris and the remnants of buildings.
A spokesperson from the Russian-installed local authority stated that Ukraine fired HIMARS missiles in the attack and destroyed saltpeter-containing warehouses, causing a massive explosion.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense did not immediately react to a request for comment regarding the type of weapon employed.
Vladimir Leontyev, the head of the Russia-installed military-civilian administration of the Kakhovka District, was quoted by the Russian news agency TASS as claiming that at least seven persons were killed and about sixty were injured in the attack.
"Many victims are still buried beneath the rubble. The injured are being sent to the hospital, while many residents are trapped in their homes and apartments "TASS reported Leontyev.
In addition, he was quoted as claiming that warehouses, stores, a pharmacy, gas stations, and a church had been damaged.
According to unverified social media accounts, the strike killed multiple senior Russian military commanders.
Russia has accused Ukraine of shelling its citizens on territory it no longer controls. Ukraine claims it is evacuating as many people as possible from areas captured by Russian soldiers in what it and the West view as an unreconstructed attempt by Moscow to seize territory in an imperialistic fashion.
According to Kyiv and the West, Russia's attacks have been indiscriminate, killing civilians and leveling entire city districts.
Moscow denies targeting people, but numerous Ukrainian cities, towns, and villages are in ruins as Europe's largest battle since World War II approaches its fifth month.
Russia has attempted to implement the rouble in Kherson and is providing Russian passports to residents who accept them.
Officials placed by Russia say they intend to organize a vote on the region's incorporation into Russia but have not yet chosen a date.
Sunday, the deputy prime minister of Ukraine encouraged citizens in Kherson to evacuate as the Ukrainian military prepared a counterattack.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk stated on national television, "It's clear there will be fighting, there will be artillery shelling... and we therefore urge (people) to evacuate urgently,"
She stated that she could not predict the counter-offensive's exact timing.
"I know for sure that there should not be women and children there, and that they should not become human shields," she stated.
Ukraine is preparing for what it anticipates would be a significant new Russian attack in the industrial Donbas area in the country's east. Moscow claims it is determined to seize total control.
The eastern city of Sloviansk is anticipated to be attacked by Russian forces, who have been bombarding areas of the Donetsk region, which is part of Donbas, for weeks.
After failing to seize Kyiv rapidly, Russia's soldiers shifted to the Donbas, whose two provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, have been partially controlled by separatists backed by Russia since 2014.
Russia currently controls the entirety of Luhansk and a portion of Donetsk. Putin intends to pass over control of the Donbas to the separatists, which Kyiv claims are puppets under Russian rule, a claim they dispute.