A Russian attack on Ukrainian military barracks in the southern city of Mykolaiv may have left scores of troops dead on Friday.
The airstrike hit the 36th Ukrainian Naval Infantry Brigade in the Black Sea town early on Friday, as 200 soldiers slept inside the military base, according to the BBC.
A Ukrainian military official announced that at least 40 soldiers were killed, but there may be many more bodies under the rubble. This figure indicates that the airstrike may be the most deadly attack on Ukrainian forces since the war began in late February.
Around 50 people have been taken from the barracks to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.
Ukrainian military barracks targeted in bombing of Mykolaiv
A soldier speaking to the AFP on Saturday stated that “at least 50 bodies have been recovered, but we do not know how many others are in the rubble.”
Currently, search and rescue forces are searching for survivors in the rubble of the military base in Mykolaiv. They are trying to work quickly due to the threat of another attack.
The city is a strategic location during the war, as strong Ukrainian resistance in the area has prevented Russian forces from moving westward along the coast of the Black Sea.
If Russian troops were to take control of the city and a nearby bridge, which is the only bridge that crosses the Southern Buh River, they could advance toward the Ukrainian Navy headquarters.
Soldiers from the Russian army have been camped out on the city’s outskirts for weeks in an effort to gain control of Mykolaiv, but Ukrainian forces stationed nearby are not concerned, according to a soldier who spoke to The New York Times.
“They don’t have the forces to attack Mykolaiv now, but they seem to be preparing something. They’ve started to dig in around different population centers, and with quick raids we have gradually started to push them out of these places. That’s how the war is going right now,” Lt. Col. Yaroslav Chepurnoi stated to the newspaper.
Vitaly Kim, the leader of the Mykolaiv Region, stated in a video on Saturday that Russia “dishonorably fired rockets at our sleeping soldiers yesterday.”
In a second attack near the base, nine civilians waiting in line to enter a store were killed, the BBC reports.
“This isn’t a war between armies…The Russians are trying to destroy us all,” Ukrainian civilian Andre Ansimov told the BBC.
Russian and Ukrainian troops fighting in center of Mariupol
According to the city’s mayor, Russian and Ukrainian troops are now fighting in the center of the southeastern city of Mariupol.
The vibrant port city has been heavily targeted by Russian shelling in the past two weeks and more than 30,000 people are estimated to have fled already. At least 2,500 civilians have been killed so far in the city, Ukraine officials say.
According to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, hundreds of thousands of people in Mariupol are stuck in the city without basic necessities such as heat, electricity, or water.
Greece’s Consul General Manolis Androulakis, who was the last Western diplomat to remain in the city, described the horrific state of the once vibrant urban center: “Every day the situation [in Mariupol] was becoming worse. The city was encircled and the battles were closing in. Civilians were hit. The civilian infrastructure was hit. A hospital was hit, a library, a university. When I say they were hit, I mean nothing was left standing.”
On Wednesday, Russian forces struck a theater where over one thousand people, including children, had sought shelter, according to Ukrainian officials.
Since the bombing, 130 people have been rescued, but countless more are thought to be trapped under the rubble, but Russian attacks have impeded search and rescue efforts.
According to The New York Times, Ukrainian military forces claim to have regained control of towns surrounding the southern city of Kherson from Russian troops.