Locals stand in front of a damaged residential building after shelling hit a residential area in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on Tuesday. Photo by George Ivanchenko/EPA-EFE
July 19 (BP) — Russian forces launched an attack on two key cities in Donetsk oblast Tuesday, injuring multiple people and trapping others under rubble, Ukrainian officials said.
The strikes hit the cities of Kramatorsk and nearby Sloviansk, both located in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.
The Donbas comprises the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, which are partially separatist-held and partly under control of the Ukrainian government. Russia has focused the efforts of its invasion on the region after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the two oblasts as independent republics.
Kramatorsk Mayor Oleksandr Vasylovych said officials have been unable to determine the number of victims from Tuesday’s attack.
“Specialists of explosive engineering services and rescuers are working on the spot,” he said in a Facebook post, according to CNBC.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk, said the missiles launched by plane hit the central park of Kramatorsk. The attack caused a fire at a five-story residential building.
Ukraine’s emergency services said at least 10 people sustained injuries.
The New York Times reported that Russian fighter jets struck the neighboring city of Sloviansk, the first attack on the city by plane. The strikes were believed to have hit both military and civilian targets, trapping people in the rubble, Sloviansk Mayor Vadym Lyakh said.
Farther west, officials in the city of Vinnytsia said the death toll from an attack on a public area last week has risen to 25. Russian forces struck the city with three Kalibr missiles Tuesday, Ukrainian military officials said.
The attack also injured 54 people, including a 20-year-old woman who sustained burns to 98% of her body, CNBC reported.
Military officials said Tuesday that long-range multiple launch rocket systems have helped Ukraine bolster its defense. Ukraine has received 12 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems — or HIMARS — from Western allies in recent weeks.
Gen. Valery Zaluzhny said Tuesday that the weapons have helped Ukraine “stabilize the situation.”
“It is complex, intense, but completely controlled,” he said in a post on Telegram. “An important factor contributing to our retention of defensive lines and positions is the timely arrival of M142 HIMARS, which deliver targeted strikes on enemy control points, ammunition and fuel storage depots.”