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regular-article-logo Thursday, 23 May 2024

Blasts hit 'Gateway to Crimea'

Ukraine’s spring offensive ‘to begin in occupied city’

James Kilner London Published 07.04.23, 06:08 AM
Ukrainian service members on a tank during training near the frontline in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine. (Reuters file picture)

Ukrainian service members on a tank during training near the frontline in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine. (Reuters file picture) STRINGER

Several explosions shook an occupied Ukrainian city regarded as the “Gateway to Crimea” on Wednesday, as Russian collaborators warned that Ukraine’s spring offensive could begin imminently.

The ousted Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, in the country’s southern Zaporizhzhia region, reported blasts in the “northern and western sectors” of the city on Wednesday but didn’t give any more details.

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“Collaborators of the temporarily occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region have sounded the alarm,” said Ivan Fedorov. “It turns out that the orcs are abandoning their own.”

Independent Russian media also reported the explosions. The blasts came as Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of planning “terrorist” attacks in both Russia and the occupied territories. “And it is receiving help from a third country, from western special forces,” Putin said in a meeting with his security council. Russia has accused Royal Navy of helping Ukraine’s military to launch naval drone attacks on its Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol but it has not yet claimed that Western special forces are helping to plan an attack on the Russian mainland.

The Russian President provided no evidence for the claim.

Melitopol is one of the biggest cities to fall to the Kremlin’s army since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

It was captured undamaged and the Kremlin had wanted to showcase it as a model occupied city, but recent attacks have prompted the Russian-installed occupation officials to tell civilians to leave.

On Thursday’s explosions came a week after a Ukrainian artillery or missile strike destroyed a railway depot and power lines in Melitopol. On Monday, a car bomb badly injured Maxim Zubarev, the Russia-installed head of a nearby village.

“They have finished preparing for their so-called ‘counter-attack’, having brought considerable reserves of personnel, armoured vehicles and ammunition to the Zaporizhzhia region,” said Vladimir Rogov, a regional pro-Kremlin official. “They are ready and waiting for a go-ahead.”

The Daily Telegraph, London

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