Ukraine Russia: Ukrainian forces strike key bridge in Russia-occupied south

Ukrainian forces have struck and seriously damaged a bridge that is key for supplying Russian troops in southern Ukraine, a regional official said.

It comes as Russian shelling killed civilians, including a 13-year-old boy, in the embattled country’s north-east.

Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Moscow-backed temporary administration for the Russia-controlled southern Kherson region, said the Ukrainian military struck the Antonivskyi Bridge, which crosses the Dnieper River, with missiles on Wednesday, scoring 11 hits.

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He said in remarks carried by the Interfax news agency the almost mile-long bridge sustained serious damage, but was not closed for traffic.

Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska delivers an address to members of the United States Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Picture: Jabin Botsford/AFP via Getty Images

Mr Stremousov said the Ukrainian forces used US-supplied Himars multiple rocket launchers, saying some were intercepted by Russian air defences.

The bridge is the main crossing across the Dnieper River in the Kherson region.

Knocking it out would make it hard for the Russian military to keep supplying its forces in the region amid repeated Ukrainian attacks.

The head of the Moscow-appointed Kherson administration, Vladimir Saldo, said in a video message that passenger vehicles were allowed to continue driving across the bridge, but truck traffic was halted to allow for quick repairs.

He said trucks could cross the river using a dam about 50 miles away.

Wednesday’s shelling of the bridge was the second in as many days.

It was lightly damaged by Ukrainian shelling a day earlier, according to the Moscow-backed authorities in Kherson.

Early in the war, Russian troops quickly overran the Kherson region just north of the Crimean Peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014.

They have faced Ukrainian counterattacks but have largely held their ground.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the state-controlled RT television and RIA Novosti news agency that Russia had expanded the scope of its “special military operation” in Ukraine from the Moscow-backed Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions and other territories.

He said when Russia and Ukraine discussed a possible deal to end the hostilities in March, “our readiness to accept the Ukrainian proposal was based on the geography of March 2022″.

“Now it’s a different geography,” he said, as he repeated earlier claims by Moscow the US and Britain are interested in expanding hostilities.

Mr Lavrov said “they want to turn it into a real war and provoke a clash between Russia and European countries”.

He claimed the US was preventing Ukraine from engaging in talks on a possible settlement with Russia.

“They are keeping them from any constructive steps and not only pumping in weapons but forcing them to use those weapons in an increasingly risky way,” Mr Lavrov said.

Meanwhile, in a sign of the crippling economic impact of the war on Ukraine, a resolution by its government said the country would ask investors to allow it to postpone foreign debt payments for two years.

The Ukrainian attacks on the bridge in Kherson come as the bulk of the Russian forces are stuck in the fighting in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of Donbas, where they have made slow gains facing fierce Ukrainian resistance.

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