Ukraine Counteroffensive: Kyiv attacks Crimea ammunition depot

Russian war reporter’s death prompts Moscow’s outrage over alleged use of cluster bombs

A drone attack on an ammunition depot in Crimea prompted authorities to evacuate a five km radius and briefly suspend road traffic on the bridge linking the peninsula to Russia, the region’s Moscow-installed governor said yesterday.

Ukraine said its army had destroyed an oil depot and Russian army warehouses in what it called the “temporarily occupied” district of Oktiabrske in central Crimea.

The attack caused an ammunition depot to explode, said Russian-installed governor Sergei Aksyonov, adding there was no reported damage or casualties. Footage shared by state media showed a thick cloud of grey smoke at the site.

Meanwhile, A Russian war reporter was killed and three were wounded in Ukraine yesterday in what the defence ministry said was a Ukrainian attack using cluster munitions, prompting outrage from Moscow.

In a separate incident, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle said one of its journalists, Yevgeny Shilko, had been wounded elsewhere in Ukraine in a Russian attack with cluster munitions that killed a Ukrainian soldier. It said his life was not in danger.

Reuters could not independently verify the use of such weapons in either incident yesterday. Both sides have used them in the course of Russia’s 17-month invasion of Ukraine.

The dead Russian journalist was named as Rostislav Zhuravlev, a war correspondent for state news agency RIA. His three colleagues were evacuated from the battlefield after coming under fire in Ukraine’s southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, the defence ministry said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced what she called “criminal terror” by Ukraine and said, without providing evidence, that the attack appeared deliberate.

“Those responsible for the brutal reprisal against a Russian journalist will inevitably suffer well-deserved punishment. The entire measure of responsibility will be shared by those who supplied cluster munitions to their Kyiv protégés,” she said.

No comment was immediately available from Ukraine on the incident.

Ukraine has pledged to use cluster munitions only to dislodge concentrations of enemy soldiers. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said this week that Ukrainian forces were using them appropriately and effectively against Russian formations.

Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy speaker of the Russian upper house of parliament, said the use of the weapons was “inhuman” and the responsibility lay both with Ukraine and the United States. Leonid Slutsky, a party leader in the lower house, called it a “monstrous crime”.

Their reactions ignored the fact that Russia’s own use of cluster bombs in the war has been documented by human rights groups and by the UN.

US-based Human Rights Watch said in May that Russian forces had used the weapons in attacks that had caused hundreds of civilian casualties and damaged homes, hospitals and schools.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday that Crimea bridge was a legitimate target because it was a military supply route for Russia.

“This is the route used to feed the war with ammunition and this is being done on a daily basis,” he said.

Russia is on high alert for incidents at the bridge, and an official Telegram channel tells people not to panic in the event of an alarm.

In a further sign of security concerns in Crimea, Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to Aksyonov, warned people not to post images of critical infrastructure on the internet.

He urged people who knew the authors of such posts to report them to the interior ministry or the FSB security service.

“Remember that a video posted on the web of military or other critical facilities is work for the enemy,” he said.

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