At least 25 killed in Ukrainian strikes on Russian-controlled Donetsk, officials say

People remove debris at a food market following, what local Russian-installed authorities say, was a Ukrainian military strike in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, January 21, 2024.

People remove debris at a food market on Sunday following what local Russian-installed authorities say was a Ukrainian military strike on Russian-controlled Donetsk in Ukraine.Alexander Ermochenko/ReutersCNN — 

At least 25 people were killed and 20 were injured, including two children, in Ukrainian shelling near a market in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, officials say.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement published that a market and shops in the city’s Kirovsky district were targeted with multiple launch rocket systems, with the shelling reportedly coming from the direction of Avdiivka.

CNN is not able to independently verify this claim.

Kyiv “once again committed a barbaric terrorist act against the civilian population of Russia,” the ministry said. “There are a large number of victims.”

Russia has responded with outrage to previous Ukrainian attacks but has been responsible for thousands of civilians deaths following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched an investigation and “all those involved and responsible for this and other terrorist attacks on our soil will suffer inevitable punishment,” the ministry said.

Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said that the attack came on the busiest day of the week for the area and that search teams were looking for fragments of weapons.

Donetsk is one of four Ukrainian regions that Moscow said in 2022 it would recognize as Russian territory – an annexation process which is illegal under international law.

The region, which is partially but not fully controlled by Russian forces, is on the frontline of fighting in the east.

The Donetsk attack comes with the frontlines of the war largely static.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive failed to deliver major gains and its troops are now under pressure from Russia at several points along the 1,000 kilometer-long frontline.

Kyiv’s troops have withdrawn from the village of Krokhmalne in the northeast of the country, close to the border between Kharkiv and Luhansk regions – with an army spokesman saying on Ukrainian TV that its troops’ position have been moved to “where it is more advantageous for them to destroy the enemy.”

Russia’s First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyansky said the Donetsk attack will be one of the topics discussed during a UN Security Council meeting on Monday, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

Earlier this month, 11 people including five children were killed in Russian S-300 missile strikes in the region, according to the local military administration; after which, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “Russia must feel – and always feel – that none of these strikes will be without consequences for the terrorist state.”

Firefighters work to extinguish fire at the Novatek terminal in the port of Ust-Luga, Russia, January 21, 2024.

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a terminal belonging to Novatek, Russia’s largest liquefied natural gas producer, in the port of Ust-Luga, Russia, on Sunday.Alexander Drozdenko/Leningrad Region Governor/Telegram/Reuters

Ukraine strikes oil terminal in Russia

In a separate development, a Ukrainian defense source told CNN that Ukraine carried out a drone attack on a Russian oil terminal about 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Saint Petersburg, the latest example of Ukraine’s capacity to strike deep inside Russia.

A night-time video posted by Leningrad regional boss Alexander Drozdenko showed what appeared to be a significant fire at the Novatek facility in Ust-Luga, which sits on the Gulf of Finland. Later videos showed fire-fighters tackling the blaze. Authorities said there were no injuries.

According to Novatek’s website, the Ust-Luga complex sees the processing of liquified natural gas products into various types of fuel, including naptha, jet fuel, fuel oil and gasoil.

The Ukrainian defense source said the products are used to supply, among others, the Russian military, adding: “The successful attack on this facility will complicate the enemy’s logistics.” .

Firefighters work to extinguish fire at a terminal belonging to Novatek, Russia's largest liquefied natural gas producer, in the port of Ust-Luga, Russia, January 21, 2024.

A Ukrainian defense source said Ukraine carried out a drone strike on the oil terminal.Yuri Zapalatsky/Kingiseppsky District Administration Head/Telegram/Reuters

The attack comes three days after a Ukrainian intelligence source claimed another drone operation targeting the St. Petersburg region. “This is a new stage,” the source told CNN. “Our targets are military facilities and oil depots.”

Elsewhere, Ukraine also carried out drone strikes in the Tula, Smolensk and Belgorod regions.

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