Ukrainian officials said Russia struck Ukrainian port infrastructure and grain storage facilities on Tuesday, but also reported some progress on the front lines in the three-month-old counteroffensive by its forces.
President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke of “good details” from the front without further explanation and said Ukraine clearly understood where to apply pressure to make it felt in Moscow.
“Sanctions are not enough. There will also be more of our own Ukrainian actions against the terrorist state,” Mr. Zelensky said in his nightly video address. “As long as Russia’s aggression continues, Russia must feel its losses.”
Ilia Yevlash, spokesperson for forces in the east, told national television that Ukrainian troops had “enjoyed success” in villages near Bakhmut, a key town seized by Russian forces in May after some of the heaviest fighting in the 19-month-old war.
A spokesman for troops in the south, Oleksandr Shtupun, told the news site Espreso TV that Ukrainian troops were digging in and poised to move on the village of Verbove as part of their advance to the Sea of Azov. Russian troops were bringing in reserves.
“I believe we will soon have good news,” Mr. Shtupun said.
Two hours of overnight Russian strikes focused on the grain-exporting district of Izmail, Ukrainian officials said.
Oleh Kiper, Governor of the Southern Odesa region, which includes the Danube River ports of Izmail and Reni, said a border checkpoint building, storage facilities and more than 30 trucks and cars were damaged, and that two people had been hurt.
Ukraine’s military said operations at an international checkpoint were suspended. Vehicles were temporarily rerouted.
The attack was the latest on grain and port facilities since July, when Russia quit a deal that had ensured safe Black Sea Ukrainian grain shipments to combat a global food crisis.
Ukraine, a major global grain producer and exporter, has since stepped up exports via the Danube.
“The enemy targeted the port and border infrastructure of the Danube,” the general prosecutor’s office said, publishing photos of wrecked grain silos and burning trucks. “Two truck drivers were injured as a result of the attack. Granaries, administrative buildings and freight vehicles were damaged.”
The military said 26 of the 38 Iranian-made attack drones launched by Russia at Ukraine overnight had been shot down.
It said that in addition to the Odesa region, the Mykolaiv region, Kherson and Kirovohrad regions had also come under fire.
According to local prosecutors, 12 people were injured in Kherson region as a result of several Russian attacks.
A Russian missile strike also damaged a local enterprise in the southern city of Kryvyi Rih, its mayor said, and the governor of the central Cherkasy region said an unspecified infrastructure facility had been hit.
There were no reports of deaths in the attacks.
Kyiv has hit back with a growing number of attacks inside Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea. In June, it launched a counteroffensive it says is gradually making gains in areas occupied by Russia in Southern and Eastern Ukraine.
The governor of Russia’s Kursk region said power had been cut off to about seven settlements in the latest reported attack. Russia’s Defence Ministry said a drone had been destroyed over Kursk region at around 5:30 a.m. (0230 GMT).
Reuters could not verify reports by either side.
Meanwhile, Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, was shown on Russian state television on Tuesday attending a defence leaders’ meeting remotely, a day after Ukrainian special forces said they had killed him.
In video and photographs released by the Defence Ministry, Admiral Sokolov was shown as one of several fleet commanders on video apparently joining an in-person meeting of Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and other army chiefs, although not speaking. It was not clear when the video was filmed.
Ukraine’s special forces said on Monday that Admiral Sokolov had been killed along with 33 other officers in a missile attack last week on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the port of Sevastopol in Crimea, seized from Ukraine in 2014.
In response to the Russian video, Ukraine special forces said on Telegram: “Since the Russians were urgently forced to publish a response with Sokolov allegedly alive, our units are clarifying the information.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had declined to comment on the Ukrainian claim, referring reporters to the ministry.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, interviewed by CNN, neither confirmed nor denied Admiral Sokolov’s death, but said his demise could only be a good thing for all concerned.
“He is in our temporary occupied territories … he should not be there at all,” CNN quoted Mr. Umerov as saying on its website.
“So, if he’s dead, it’s good news for everybody that we are continuing to de-occupy our territory.”
In the video, Mr. Shoigu said more than 17,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in September and that more than 2,700 weapons, including seven American Bradley fighting vehicles, had been destroyed.
Reuters could not independently verify battlefield claims.
“The Ukrainian armed forces are suffering serious losses along the entire front line,” Mr. Shoigu said, adding that the Ukrainian counteroffensive had so far produced no results.
“The United States and its allies continue to arm the armed forces of Ukraine, and the Kyiv regime throws untrained soldiers to the slaughter in senseless assaults,” Mr. Shoigu said.
Kyiv’s counteroffensive has yet to seize much territory from Russian forces, which control about 17.5 per cent of Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory.
According to a Sept. 19 scorecard by the Belfer Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Russia has gained 91 square kilometres from Ukraine in the past month while Ukrainian forces have taken 41 square kilometres from Russian forces.