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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Ukraine strikes Russian-occupied Makiivka

Ukrainian soldiers of the 53rd Separate Mechanized Brigade unload water from a truck at a front line position near Avdiivka, in eastern Ukraine, July 5, 2023.

By Cassandra Vinograd

Ukraine’s military launched an overnight strike on the Russian-occupied city of Makiivka, setting off a huge blast and conflicting claims over what had been hit.

Both Ukrainian and Russian officials indicated that the attack in Makiivka was significant, but they differed on descriptions of the target. The attack came months after an assault by Ukraine’s forces on the city caused one of the largest losses of life for Russia’s troops in a single incident since the full-scale invasion.

Video of a massive fireball lighting up the night sky in Makiivka, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, started circulating on social media late Tuesday. Ukraine’s military shared the video in a post on the Telegram messaging app, saying that a “Russian base” in Makiivka had “ceased to exist,” thanks to Ukraine’s forces.

The claim could not be independently verified, and there was no immediate response from Russia’s Ministry of Defense. Videos geolocated by The New York Times confirmed that an explosion occurred on the outskirts of Makiivka. The initial explosion ignited multiple secondary explosions and flares before setting off a massive blast, suggesting the site may have been an arms depot.

Pro-Russian officials in Makiivka accused Ukraine on Wednesday morning of using Western-supplied long-range rockets and artillery to attack civilians. One man was killed and 68 civilians were wounded, the state-owned Russian news agency Tass reported, citing the local pro-Kremlin administration. It also quoted a local official, Igor Kimakovsky, as saying that HIMARS rockets and artillery had hit “peaceful” districts of the city. Those claims could also not be independently verified.

Makiivka has symbolic resonance in the 17-month-long war: A Ukrainian strike on a barracks there killed dozens of Russian soldiers on New Year’s Day, in an attack that prompted criticism of the Russian military among some prominent supporters of Moscow’s war effort and subsequent claims of retaliatory strikes from Russia’s Ministry of Defense.

At the time, Russian authorities blamed troops in Makiivka for exposing their location by using cellphones, enabling a strike by Ukrainian forces equipped with long-range weaponry from Western allies.

Adjacent to the city of Donetsk, Makiivka lies only about 10 miles from Ukrainian-held Avdiivka to the northwest — well within the roughly 50-mile range of the HIMARS rockets the United States has sent to Ukraine.

The HIMARS system is most effective against stationary targets that can be identified in advance and pinpointed, such as ammunition dumps, infrastructure or troop concentrations.

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