Russia put five aircraft out of action in an attack on a military target in western Ukraine and caused a fire at the Black Sea port of Odesa in heavy air strikes early on Monday, Ukrainian officials said.
Kyiv also came under intense attack for the second successive night, but reported no significant damage and said that most of the drones and missiles fired at the capital overnight had been shot down.
The attacks were part of a new wave of increasingly frequent and intense air strikes launched by Moscow this month as Kyiv prepares to launch a counteroffensive to try to take back territory occupied by Russian forces.
In a rare acknowledgement of damage suffered at a military “target,” Ukraine did not name the site or sites hit in the western region of Khmelnitskiy but said work was under way to restore a runway and five aircraft were taken out of service.
A large military airfield was located in the region before the war.
“At the moment, work is continuing to contain fires in storage facilities for fuel and lubricants and munitions,” the Khmelnitskiy region governor’s office said.
Ukraine’s military said the attack on Odesa port had caused a fire and damaged infrastructure but did not specify whether the damage threatened grain exports.
Ukraine is an important global grain supplier and the port is vital for shipping agricultural products abroad. It is also one of three included in a UN-brokered deal on the safe export of grain via the Black Sea.
“A fire broke out in the port infrastructure of Odesa as a result of the hit. It was quickly extinguished. Information on the extent of the damage is being updated,” the military’s southern command said on Facebook.
UKRAINIAN COUNTERATTACK EXPECTED
Russia, which began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine just over 15 months ago, did not immediately comment on the attacks. Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports on the scale of the attacks.
After months of attacks on energy facilities, Russia is now increasingly targeting military facilities and supplies to try to disrupt Ukraine’s preparations for its counterattack, Kyiv says.
Moscow says Ukraine has stepped up drone and sabotage attacks against targets inside Russia as Kyiv prepares for the counteroffensive.
Ukraine said it had shot down 29 of the 35 drones and 37 of 40 cruise missiles fired overnight by Russia.
The Kyiv military administration said its air defenses had shot down over 40 of the “targets” fired at it in what was Russia’s 15th air assault on the city this month.
“Another difficult night for the capital,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging channel.
The attack follows the largest drone barrage launched on Kyiv the previous night, which killed one person and injured several. In Sunday’s attack, 36 drones were downed over Kyiv.
“With these constant attacks, the enemy seeks to keep the civilian population in deep psychological tension,” Serhiy Popko, the head of the city’s military administration said.