Ukraine Situation Report: Zelensky Vows Revenge For Kharkiv Missile Strike

At least six people were killed and 16 wounded in an apparent Russian Kalibr cruise missile strike on a dormitory.

byHoward Altman| PUBLISHED Aug 17, 2022 10:12 PM
Ukraine Situation Report: Zelensky Vows Revenge For Kharkiv Missile Strike
Emergency crews respond after an apparent Russian Kalibr cruise missile strike on Kharkiv. via Twitter
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed revenge Wednesday after an apparent Russian cruise missile strike on a dormitory building in the Saltivka neighborhood in Kharkiv.

“When you hear about Kharkiv's Saltivka, it hurts again,” Zelensky said in a message posted on his Telegram channel. “Pain for all of Ukraine. Pain for Kharkiv.”

“Rocket attack... On the dormitory... The building was completely destroyed. We are establishing the exact number of dead and wounded. A vile and cynical attack on civilians that has no justification and demonstrates the powerlessness of the aggressor. We will not forgive, we will take revenge.”

A 35-second video accompanying his message shows emergency personnel walking through the remains of the building as red flames of the still-burning fire lit up the night sky.

In a Tweet posted shortly after 11 p.m. local time, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine Mykhailo Fedorov blamed the attack on a Russian cruise missile.

The dormitory building was hit by a Russian Kalibr cruise missile, Ukraine Now reported on its Telegram channel

“More than 30 people lived in the building, including children and pensioners." Nataliia Popova, an adviser to the head of the Kharkiv Regional Council, reported that people with hearing impairments were among the victims. "They might not have heard the air raid sirens.”

Ukraine's Ministry of Defense said at least six people were killed and 16 wounded in the attack.

This strike comes a day after the Ukrainian armed forces reportedly destroyed a Russian command post, which was situated in a building that previously housed a regional headquarters for the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, in the city of Lysychansk in the eastern Luhansk region. Yesterday, a series of blasts also caused serious damage to an ammunition storage facility on the occupied Crimean Peninsula and forced thousands of locals to evacuate the area. Russian authorities currently claim that was the work pro-Ukrainian saboteurs.

Before heading into the rest of the latest news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can get caught up on our previous rolling coverage of the war here.

The Latest

A day after explosions rocked Crimea, the Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, on Wednesday stopped what it says were the activities of an international terrorist organization called Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami there, the Russian news agency TASS reported on its Telegram channel.

Sergei Aksenov, the occupation governor of Crimea, blamed their actions on Ukraine.

Members of the Russian FSB security service roundup purported members of an Islamic terror organization in Crimea. (Screen shot of TASS video)

"All of them are detained. The activities of the terrorists were coordinated, as one would expect, from the territory of the terrorist state of Ukraine," Aksenov said on his Telegram channel.

A video said to show the FSB raiding the Islamist group's safe house, seen in the Tweet below, shows a questionable collection of pro-Ukrainian and Nazi-related paraphernalia. The Kremlin continues to justify its "special military operation" in part as a necessary action to combat unsubstantiated claims of 'Nazism' at the highest levels of the Ukrainian government.

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine, Reuters reported.

New satellite imagery obtained by The War Zone does not appear to show any apparent damage to aircraft or structures at Russia's Gvardeyskoe Air Base on the occupied Crimean Peninsula a day after reports that smoke was seen rising from the facility or in its immediate vicinity. This is despite a new report that indicates Ukrainian authorities have claimed responsibility for the purported incident at this base.

A view of an apron at Russia’s Gvardeyskoe Air Base on the occupied Crimean Peninsula from a satellite image taken on August 17, 2022. PHOTO © 2022 PLANET LABS INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRINTED BY PERMISSION

No major images of damage emerged after the reported incident. That was a stark contrast to the immense amount of on-the-ground visual evidence that appeared on social media - together with official Russian statements acknowledging that something happened - in the wake of a reported attack on an ammunition dump in Crimea's Dzhankoi region on Monday and another at Saki Air Base on the peninsula last week. This doesn't mean some sort of event didn't happen, but its scale was not anywhere near that of the previous airfield attack if it did.

A top Zelensky advisor hinted that there may be a lot more images of destroyed Russian military bases in Crimea coming.

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Mykhailo Podolyak said there could be more attacks on Crimea in the “next two or three months” similar to the recent mysterious strikes, which Ukraine has not officially admitted to.

“Our strategy is to destroy the logistics, the supply lines and the ammunition depots and other objects of military infrastructure. It’s creating a chaos within their own forces,” Podolyak said. He added that Kyiv’s approach ran counter to Moscow’s use of blunt artillery power to gain territory in the Donbas region to the east, which has seen Russian troops destroy cities such as Mariupol and Sievierodonetsk in order to gain territory.

And Zelensky himself urged Ukrainians to stay away from Russian ammo dumps and military equipment.

"Every day and every night we see new reports of explosions in the territory temporarily occupied by the occupiers. I ask now all our people in Crimea, in other regions in the south of the country, in the occupied areas of the Donbas and Kharkiv region to be very careful. Please do not approach the military facilities of the Russian army and all the places where they store ammunition and equipment, where they have their command centers," the Ukrainian President said in a video address.

In its latest battlefield assessment, the U.K. Ministry of Defense (MOD) showed that, yet again, despite ongoing death and destruction, there have been few territorial gains or losses by either side.

In its daily map, the MOD once again showed that the fiercest fighting was largely contained to pockets along a long but narrow front.

In the south, the fighting is mostly south and east of Mykolaiv and along a narrow strip running south of Zaporizhzhya and east into the Donbas region toward Donetsk. Elsewhere in the Donbas and surrounding areas, there are clashes running from northwest of Sloviansk to the west and through the southeast of Izyium and northeast of Horlivka. There was also fighting reported north of Kharkiv.

In an open letter published in The Hill on Wednesday, a group of former U.S. military and diplomatic leaders urged the Biden administration to provide Ukraine with more powerful weapons, including  Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) short-range ballistic missiles that can hit targets about 190 miles away. The ATACMS can be used with a range of multiple launch rocket systems provided to Ukraine, including 16 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, provided by the U.S. as well as three M270 systems provided by the United Kingdom.

“Ukraine needs long-range fires to disrupt the Russian offensive, including Russian resupply, fuel, and ammunition stocks. That means the U.S. should send ATACMS munitions, fired by HIMARS with the 300km range necessary to strike Russian military targets anywhere in Ukraine, including occupied Crimea.”

Speaking of hitting targets in Crimea, Zelensky advisor Podolyak suggested that the prized $3.5B Kerch Strait Bridge be taken out.

The bridge, he said, "is an illegal object, permission for the construction of which was not given by Ukraine. It harms the peninsula's ecology and therefore must be dismantled. Not important how - voluntary or not."

Days after Russian forces were spotted preparing the bridge — which connects mainland Russia to Crimea — for missile attacks, a U.S. official told The War Zone that “Russian forces’ capabilities and logistics nodes within Ukraine are absolutely fair targets.” The War Zone followed up, asking if there were any hesitations about using the HIMARs against the Kerch Bridge. The official responded as follows.

“As I said, there aren't any preclusions that I'm aware of on Ukrainians fighting on their sovereign territory against Russia.”

The Georgian Legion, which fights Russians on behalf of Ukraine, issued a snarky warning to those who have been using the bridge to flee Crimea recently.

That warning came amid reports, unconfirmed, that Moscow ordered the bridge shut overnight out of fears that Ukraine would hit it, the Express newspaper reported, citing several Ukrainian media accounts, including one from the Kyiv Post saying Russian officials were expected to flee the peninsula on Tuesday night. There are conflicting claims regarding traffic on the bridge over the last 24 hours though.

The Ukraine Weapons Tracker site reported that modern Nashshab RPG-32 rocket launchers have started to show up in Ukraine. The launchers are a joint Russian-Jordanian weapons system.

The leader of one of the pro-Russian breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine has reportedly pledged to increase cooperation with North Korea, echoing a similar sentiment from Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week.

The Hermit Kingdom's state news agency KCNA reported Wednesday that Kim Jong Un received a congratulatory message from Denis Pushilin, head of the so-called “People’s Republic of Donetsk” on Aug. 15, in which Pushilin congratulated Kim on the country’s national “Liberation Day” and expressed a hope to extend cooperation between North Korea and the separatist region.

This follows growing chatter that North Korea could deploy large numbers of its people to Russian-occupied territory as laborers. The regime exports its labor for hard currency, which it is in bad need of. There are concerns that some form of fighting force could also be part of such a deal.

With Ukrainian troops beseiged by continued Russian aerial bombardment and long-range fires, tubular metal shelters are being delivered where they can take cover.

We will continue to update this post until we state otherwise.

Contact the author: howard@thewarzone.com

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