Ukraine attacks occupied Melitopol, Russian side says two killed

Multiple fatalities and injuries have been reported as Ukraine hopes to knock down Russia's line of defense.

 A firefighter sits on the roof of a vehicle as a Russian flag flies outside the burning shopping mall Galaktika following recent shelling in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in Donetsk, Ukraine, August 24, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO)
A firefighter sits on the roof of a vehicle as a Russian flag flies outside the burning shopping mall Galaktika following recent shelling in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in Donetsk, Ukraine, August 24, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO)

Ukraine attacked occupied Melitopol in the country's southeast on Saturday evening, the Russian-installed and exiled Ukrainian authorities of the strategically located city said.

The pro-Moscow authorities said a missile attack killed two people and injured 10, while the exiled mayor said scores of "invaders" were killed.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports of the attacks or deaths.

"Air defense systems destroyed two missiles, four reached their targets," Yevgeny Balitsky, the Moscow-appointed governor of the occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region, said on the Telegram messaging app.

He said a "recreation center" where people were dining was destroyed in the Ukrainian attack with HIMARS missiles.

 People protest the abduction of Mayor Ivan Fedorov, outside the Melitopol regional administration building, after he was reportedly taken away by Russian forces, during their ongoing invasion, in Melitopol, Ukraine in this still image obtained from handout video released March 12, 2022. (credit: Courtesy of Deputy Head for President's Office, Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS) People protest the abduction of Mayor Ivan Fedorov, outside the Melitopol regional administration building, after he was reportedly taken away by Russian forces, during their ongoing invasion, in Melitopol, Ukraine in this still image obtained from handout video released March 12, 2022. (credit: Courtesy of Deputy Head for President's Office, Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS)

The exiled mayor, Ivan Fedorov, said on his Telegram channel that the attack hit a church that Russians had turned into a gathering place.

Vladimir Rogov, another Moscow-installed official in the Russian-controlled part of Zaporizhzhia, said a big fire caused by the strike engulfed the recreation center. He posted a video of a structure in flames.

HIMARS

Multiple rocket launchers have been among Ukraine's most effective weapons in the war, delivering precision fire on hundreds of targets, including Russian command posts. On Friday, the United States said it was sending more aid to Kyiv to strengthen its air defenses and defeat drones.

"If Melitopol falls, the entire defense line all the way to Kherson collapses. Ukrainian forces gain a direct route to Crimea."

Oleksiy Arestovych, advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy

An advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Oleksiy Arestovych, said Melitopol, a major industrial and transport center occupied by Russia since March, is key to the defense of the south.

"All logistics linking the Russian forces on the eastern part of the Kherson region and all the way to the Russian border near Mariupol is carried out through it," Arestovych said in a video interview on social media.

"If Melitopol falls, the entire defense line all the way to Kherson collapses. Ukrainian forces gain a direct route to Crimea."

There was no immediate comment from the Ukrainian army about the attacks. Earlier in the day, the central command of the Ukraine's Armed Forces said it had been conducting strikes on Melitopol.