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Ukraine war latest: Russian 'double-tap' strike north of Kharkiv kills 6, including pregnant woman

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 19, 2024 11:02 PM 7 min read
A woman visits the site of a Russian aerial bombing of the Shevchenkivskyi district in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 5, 2024. The Russian army carried out three airstrikes on the Shevchenkivskyi district of the city with UMPB D-30 glide bombs. (Ivan Samoilov/Gwara Media/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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Key developments on May 19:

  • Russian 'double-tap' strike north of Kharkiv kills 6, including pregnant woman
  • Ukraine’s Navy says it destroyed Russian sea minesweeper Kovrovets overnight
  • Media: SBU drones strike airbase, oil refinery in Russia
  • West's stance on Ukraine war 'completely nonsensical,' says UK defense secretary

Russian troops attacked a recreation center in a northern suburb of Kharkiv at around 11 a.m. local time, killing six civilians, including a pregnant woman, and wounding 27, the Kharkiv Oblast Prosecutor's Office said on May 19.

A man who was fishing near the site of the attack remains missing. The strike took place in Mala Danylivka, only 30 kilometers south of the now occupied Hlyboke village near the border.

“(Russian troops) attacked the area where local residents were resting,” Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov said in an earlier post on Telegram, condemning the attack. A paramedic was among the wounded, and an ambulance was damaged, he added.

In a later post on Telegram, Syniehubov said Russian forces had fired two Iskander ballistic missiles in a "double-tap" strike – a common Russian tactic in which a target is struck once and then again shortly after, the second strike deliberately targeting rescue workers.

‘Double-tap’ attack. Understanding one of Russia’s cruelest tactics in Ukraine
Hitting a building, waiting for first responders and the media to arrive, and hitting the same place again to target those who came to put out the fire, help the victims, or document a potential war crime is a well-honed tool of Russia in its wars. This ruthless and illegal

Later in the afternoon, Syniehubov said a pregnant woman was among those killed, and an eight-year-old girl among those injured. She was said to be in a "stable condition."

Two of the wounded are police officers, the Kharkiv Oblast Prosecutor's Office later reported.

Also on May 19, five people were killed and nine injured in a Russian strikes on villages in the Kupiansk district of Kharkiv Oblast.

In a post on X, President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned "Russian terror" and reiterated his calls for more air defense systems from Ukraine's allies.

"The world can put an end to Russian terror. To achieve this, the lack of political will among leaders must be overcome," he said.

"Two Patriots for Kharkiv will fundamentally change the situation. Air defense systems in our other cities, as well as sufficient support for our warriors on the front lines, will ensure the defeat of Russian terror."

Moscow has intensified its attacks on Kharkiv in recent months, forcing many local residents living in and around the city to flee their hometown. The attacks have further spiked after Russia launched its new offensive in Kharkiv Oblast’s border areas, killing civilians and targeting energy infrastructure.

In April, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said that Russian attacks destroyed "almost all" of the critical energy infrastructure in Kharkiv.

48 hours in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s most-bombed major city
The first signs that something ominous is happening in Kharkiv come as soon as the train from Kyiv reaches the suburbs of the city – as two pillars of smoke appear in the distance, every single phone in the carriage erupts with a piercing electronic squawking. “I guess we’ve arrived,

Ukraine’s Navy says it destroyed Russian sea minesweeper Kovrovets overnight

Ukraine’s Navy said on May 19 that it had “destroyed” Russian sea minesweeper Kovrovets overnight, refuting Moscow’s earlier claims of having repelled strikes on occupied Crimea.

The report comes amid Ukraine’s ongoing campaign targeting the Russian Black Sea Fleet, inflicting damage on warships one after another. In April, Ukraine’s Navy had said that it struck Kommuna, a salvage ship that was launched in 1915 and is the oldest ship still in service in the Russian Navy.

Russian official in occupied Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said that the air defense was working in the city. He said no damage to civilian infrastructure was recorded.

The sea minesweeper Kovrovets, with a crew of 68 people, belongs to the Project 266 Akvamarin class, known in NATO as the Yurka class. This Soviet-origin class detects mines up to 150 meters deep and has two 30mm AK-230M naval guns with a high-resolution Lynx radar installed.

According to the Black Sea Fleet website, 40 ships that belong to this class were constructed between 1963 and 1971.

Russia's Defense Ministry had not reacted to Kyiv's report.

Following Ukraine's successful attacks from afar, the Russian military has withdrawn nearly all its major ships from ports in occupied Crimea, Ukrainian Navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk said in March.

Russia began redeploying the Black Sea Fleet to Novorossiysk last year after a series of devastating Ukrainian strikes including a missile attack on its headquarters in Sevastopol on Sept. 22.

Now, "the most valuable assets are all withdrawn," according to Pletenchuk.

The Strategic Communications Center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (StratCom) recently reported that as of early February 2024, 33% of the Black Sea Fleet’s warships had been disabled, including 24 ships and one submarine.

Russia has taken a number of steps to address the continuing threat, including replacing the commander of the Russian Navy in March.

Media: SBU drones strike airbase, oil refinery in Russia

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), in conjunction with the country's new Unmanned Systems Forces, launched a drone attack on Russia's Kushchevskaya military airbase and Sloviansk oil refinery plant overnight, Ukrainska Pravda reported on May 19.

There is currently no information on damage or casualties though the source said the Slaviansk oil refinery had paused operations.

In recent months, Ukrainian forces have launched a series of drone strikes aimed at damaging Russia's oil industry, which is crucial to sustain Moscow's war efforts.

It's the second time this particular airbase and refinery have been targeted by SBU drones in recent weeks – an attack on April 27 reportedly hit "key technological objects" and damaged several aircraft.

"The SBU continues to effectively target military infrastructure facilities behind enemy lines, reducing Russia's potential for waging war," it said at the time.

West's stance on Ukraine war 'completely nonsensical,' says UK defense secretary

The West's current stance on the war in Ukraine and delays in military aid are "completely nonsensical," the U.K's defense secretary said on May 19.

In an interview with Sky News, Grant Shapps was asked about comments made earlier this week by Zelensky, who said Ukraine's international partners "are afraid of Russia losing the war" and would like Kyiv "to win in such a way that Russia does not lose."

Sky News presenter Trevor Phillips asked if the West was "creating a stalemate in the war with Russia in which tens of thousands of people are dying needlessly."

In reply, Shapps said he visited Kyiv in March and made a "very similar point."

"It was a wake-up moment for the West and that by delaying what we should be doing… we were running the risk of doing exactly what President Zelensky is concerned about," he said, referencing delays in U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

"I think this is completely nonsensical for the West. We have to understand we are in an existential battle about the way we run the world order and about democracy itself."

Shapps added that delays in Western military aid, particularly from the U.S., were having very visible effects on the battlefield, and Russia's advances into Ukraine's Kharkiv Oblast in recent days were a direct consequence.

"Now I'm confident that Ukraine will be able to repel that but there's a few difficult weeks ahead," he said, adding that the current situation around Kharkiv "didn't need to happen."

In a meeting with journalists on May 16 attended by the Kyiv Independent, Zelensky said  Kyiv's allies "fear" Russia will lose the war against Ukraine because it would involve "unpredictable geopolitics."

"I don't think it works that way. For Ukraine to win, we need to be given everything with which one can win," he said.

His statement came on May 16 amid Russia's large-scale offensive in Kharkiv Oblast and ongoing heavy battles further east.

In a week, Russian troops managed to advance as far as 10 kilometers in the northern part of Kharkiv Oblast, according to Zelensky.

Washington has not changed its stance on potential Ukrainian strikes with U.S.-supplied weapons on Russian territory even after Russia had launched its offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, the Pentagon said on May 16.

Zelensky commented on this statement during the meeting, saying that "there should be no bans because this is not about a Ukrainian offensive using Western weapons on Russian territory. This is about defense."

In an interview with AFP on May 17, Zelensky said that the Kharkiv Oblast offensive could be the first of several waves, and Russian forces may try to go for the regional capital of Kharkiv.

Zelensky: Russia’s Kharkiv Oblast offensive could be first of several waves
Russia’s offensive in Kharkiv Oblast this month could be the first of several waves, and Russian forces may try for the regional capital of Kharkiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with AFP on May 17.
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