Ukraine has blitzed a Russian ammunition depot using US-donated HIMARS missiles, sending the warehouse into a huge fireball in the latest hammer blow to Putin’s war campaign.
At least seven people were killed in the deadly strikes, including Chief of Staff for the 22nd Army Corps of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Major General Artem Nasbulin, another high-profile Kremlin casualty.
Dramatic footage shows a fireball eruption and mushroom cloud in Novaya Kakhovka in the occupied Kherson region after the rockets blasted into the depot where saltpeter is stored for fertiliser and explosives.
Russia has acknowledged the strikes, with Vladimir Leontyev, an appointee of the military-civilian administration of the occupying forces, saying it was carried out was by HIMARS missiles, with dozens injured.
The hits are on a region where Russia is handing out its passports to locals and seeks to incorporate the region under permanent Kremlin control, but which Ukraine is vowing to take back.
In footage released by Ukraine, the US-donated High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems – which can hit targets up to 50 miles away – can be seen striking near Nova Kakhovka power plant.
Before the light multiple rocket launcher arrived, the Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson was out of range for Ukrainian forces.
It was also used in an earlier attack near Kherson in which a total of 12 Russian officers, including a colonel, were also said to have been killed when the US-supplied missiles hit their command post.
Ukraine has blitzed a Russian ammunition depot using US-donated HIMARS missiles, sending the warehouse into a huge fireball
Dramatic footage shows a fireball eruption and mushroom cloud in Novaya Kakhovka in the occupied Kherson region
Huge explosion in Russia-occupied Novaya Kakhovka in Kherson region, Ukraine, on July 11
An adviser to the head of the Kherson regional state administration, Serhiy Hlan, told the press that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had hit an ammunition depot in Novaya Kakhovk
‘A strike by the Ukrainian army at Novaya Kakhovka was followed by explosions at storage facilities holding mineral fertilisers and saltpeter,’ claimed Leontyev.
‘Blasts continue. Several people were hurt.
‘A hospital, a marketplace and residential houses within a two-kilometre radius were damaged.’
Leontyev compared the blasts to the explosion in Beirut in 2020 when hundreds were killed when ammonium nitrate exploded.
A Russian report by Readovka stated: ‘An allegedly powerful explosion in Novaya Kakhovka was the result of a hit by artillery of the armed forces of Ukraine on an ammunition depot.
‘The nature of the explosion in Nova Kakhovka and its intensity point to the explosion of an ammunition depot, detonated as a result of a Ukrainian rocket.’
The strike brought a furious reaction from Igor ‘Strelkov’ Girkin, an intelligence and army veteran, formerly a staunchly pro-Putin commander.
He is seen as speaking for hardliners including field commanders who are furious about Russian tactics, want to decimate Ukraine to win the war.
The hits are on a region where Russia is handing out its passports to locals and seeks to incorporate the region under permanent Kremlin control
Chief of Staff for the 22nd Army Corps of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Major General Artem Nasbulin, was killed in the strikes
The blasts at Novaya Kakhovka show how Ukrainian forces ‘are busily destroying everything they manage to reach with the help of HIMARS, ‘Three Axes [Howitzer M777s] and [French] Caesars [self-propelled howitzers]’.
He complained: ‘The Ukrainians are strictly consistent in their primary interests.
‘Their priority is ammunition depots and air defence positions.
‘Tonight, another ammunition depot in Novaya Kakhovka was raised into the air.’
Girkin was central to Putin’s annexation of Crimea and establishing the puppet Donetsk People’s Republic eight years ago, but has become an arch-critic of Putin’s campaign in Ukraine.
He said on a video: ‘Our Supreme Commander does not have full information from the fronts, and is clueless on what is really happening there.
‘Otherwise, I struggle to imagine what I would do to my Defence Minister [Sergei Shoigu] if I knew the true situation.
‘Or what I would do to the chief of the army general staff.
‘Most likely, execution by shooting would not be enough…
‘Putin, after learning what’s happening at the front, could not sit next to his plywood marshal [Shoigu].’
He criticised Putin for saying recently that Russia had not yet properly begun its war.
Girkin said this was aimed at domestic propaganda in Russia because the West ‘knows perfectly well we have already used the greater part of the currently available [military] resources’.
Serhiy Bratchuk, the spokesman for the head of the Odesa regional military administration, told his followers on Telegram that a HIMARS missile hit and the general Nasbulin was killed.
‘There is information about the liquidation of another Russian general after HIMARS missiles hit the headquarters in the Kherson region. The chief of staff of the 22nd Army Corps of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (military unit 73954, Simferopol) Major General Nasbulin has gone to war,’ he wrote.
Sergey Khlan, adviser to the head of the Kherson regional military administration, said: ‘According to preliminary information, the sounds that were heard at night in Kakhovka and nearby are a clear hit of our armed forces in Tavriis’k.
‘We destroyed a moving enemy command point, military equipment, radars and antennas, air defense that set there orcs. There are 200 Russians.’
Earlier Monday, twelve Russian officers are also thought to have been killed in a single rocket strike as Ukraine’s armed forces inflict punishing losses with American-supplied weapons.
The attack targeted a command post in at Chornobaivka Airport, near Kherson, and is rumoured to have killed at least one general and one colonel. It is thought to have also been carried out using US HIMARS rockets.
Video shows what appears to be an ammunition dump at the base exploding, as Russian Telegram channels report Putin is infuriated at the inability of Russia’s S-400 anti-air systems to protect his armed forces.
Experts also cast doubt on Ukraine’s ability to launch a successful counter-attack with current resources, but the defence minister suggested it will happen soon.
Chief of Staff for the 22nd Army Corps of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Major General Artem Nasbulin, is said to have died in the attack on a mobile command post in Tavriis’k, Kherson Oblast
In footage, released by Ukraine, the US-donated High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems – which hit targets up to 50 miles away – can be seen striking near Nova Kakhovka power plant
Defence minister Oleksii Reznikov said yesterday: ‘This is very necessary for our country. The president has given the order.
‘We have approximately 700,000 in the armed forces and when you add the national guard, police and border guards, we are around a million strong.’
Most of these forces are already involved in Ukraine’s bid to defend its small remaining territory in the eastern Donbas region, so could not be used in any counter-offensive there and elsewhere.
The country’s international allies and Nato military advisers have recommended that it bides its time and builds up its arsenal of Western-donated weapons.
But expectations of a Ukrainian recovery were heightened further when deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk urged citizens to evacuate ahead of offensives by the country’s troops.
Reports claim it also struck and took out the Kremlin’s munitions and 200 Russian soldiers
She said: ‘There should not be women and children there and they should not become human shields. There will be a massive fight. Our forces are coming to de-occupy.’
Amassing more rocket systems, drones and missiles will be crucial. In recent days long-range rockets have proved highly effective, destroying multiple enemy ammunition stores and command and control centres.
Even Russian state TV news broadcasts were forced to acknowledge the recent successes, with one saying Ukraine had ‘struck several times at our decision-making centres with results’.
Plans for the counter-attack emerged as the number of Ukrainians entering European Union countries was reported to have passed six million – although three million have returned home.