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Ukraine war latest: Ukrainian military says strike kills around 60 Russian soldiers in occupied Kherson Oblast

by The Kyiv Independent news desk February 22, 2024 11:59 PM 8 min read
The Ukrainian strike on a Russian military training ground in the occupied part of Kherson Oblast that reportedly killed around 60 Russian soldiers on Feb. 22, 2024. (Ukraine's Southern Defense Forces/Telegram)
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Key developments on Feb. 22:

  • Military: Ukrainian strike in occupied Kherson Oblast kills around 60 Russian soldiers
  • US State Department: 'We do not believe Putin has advantage in the war'
  • SBU: Russian strikes with North Korean missiles have killed 24 civilians in Ukraine
  • Denmark signs 10-year security agreement with Ukraine, announces new $247 million military aid package

Ukrainian forces struck a Russian military training ground in the occupied part of Kherson Oblast, killing around 60 Russian soldiers, Nataliia Humeniuk, a spokesperson of Ukraine's Southern Operational Command, said on Feb. 22.

The Southern Operational Command shared a video of the purported strike on Telegram.

The news came one day after the BBC reported that Ukrainian forces struck a Russian military training ground with HIMARS missiles in occupied areas of Donetsk Oblast's Volnovakha district where Russian troops were stationed, killing dozens of soldiers.

Fighting continues on the Russian-held east bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast, where Ukrainian forces have established limited footholds.

Russia recently claimed it had seized the Ukrainian bridgehead in the village of Krynky, one of the main flashpoints in this sector, which was later refuted by Ukraine.

According to Humeniuk, at the targeted training ground, Russian assault groups were possibly undergoing training for combat in the Krynky area, "but they (were) met with our counter-battery fire."

"They could not withstand this onslaught," she added.

Humeniuk didn’t specify where exactly the training ground was located and which weaponry the Ukrainian military used for the strike.

The Deep State outlet first reported on the attack overnight on Feb. 22, saying that it had happened near the village of Podo-Kalynivka, around 30 kilometers south of Krynky.

As of early February, over 70,000 Russian personnel were stationed on the east bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, Humeniuk said on national television.

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US State Department: 'We do not believe Putin has advantage in the war'

The U.S. does not believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin has gained the upper hand in the war against Ukraine amid the capture of Avdiivka and the failure of Congress to pass a large-scale aid package for Ukraine.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said during a press briefing on Feb. 21 that one needs to look "at the shape of this conflict over the past not just two years."

"Yes, you have seen Russia make gains on the battlefield," Miller said. "We saw gains just over this week – this last weekend because Ukraine was not able to properly resupply its troops, in large part because Congress has not taken the action that we think it should to continue to support Ukraine as it fights to defend its territory."

The future of U.S. military aid to Ukraine has become an especially significant issue over recent days with the Ukrainian withdrawal from the heavily-battered city of Avdiivka.

Two days before Ukraine's formal retreat from the city, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the city was at risk of falling to Russian hands, citing Ukraine's critical shortage of artillery shells as a significant contributing factor.

The Senate passed the $95 billion funding request, including assistance for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, earlier this month. Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has so far refused to put it to a vote in the House, instead declaring a recess until the end of February.

Miller noted that Ukraine has made remarkable advancements on the battlefield, particularly in the Black Sea region, where the troops successfully repelled the Russian fleet and established a new shipping route.

"(Ukraine) has opened up a new shipping corridor that has allowed them to export not just wheat and grain, but also other manufactured goods through the Black Sea, something that was not possible in the early days of the war when Russia had blockaded Ukrainian ports," Miller said, adding that "...we’ll continue to support them to the best of our ability, but we need a partner in Congress to help us."

Once Congress approves a foreign aid bill allocating $60 billion to Kyiv, the U.S. can promptly initiate the delivery of defense assistance to Ukraine, Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said on Feb. 20.

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SBU: Russian strikes with North Korean missiles have killed 24 civilians in Ukraine

Russian troops have so far launched over 20 North Korea-made missiles to attack Ukraine, killing at least 24 civilians and injuring over 100, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported on Feb. 22.

Since last autumn, North Korea has reportedly provided Russia with extensive weapons supplies, including artillery shells and ballistic missiles. Western and Ukrainian officials have confirmed their use in Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities identified the North Korean missiles Russia has used to attack Ukraine as the Hwasong-11Ga (KN-23/24).

These missiles contain high-explosive warheads with a capacity equivalent to 500-1,000 kilograms of TNT and have a maximum range of 650 kilometers, according to Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office.

One of the first cases of Russia using North Korean ballistic missiles was recorded on Dec. 30, 2023, during an attack on Zaporizhzhia, the SBU wrote.

The next time, Russia hit an apartment building in Kyiv with a North Korean missile in early January, killing four people and wounding over 50, according to the SBU.

Russian forces have also reportedly used North Korea-made missiles to strike five front-line settlements in Donetsk Oblast, killing 17 civilians, and to attack Kharkiv, where three civilians were killed and over 60 injured.

The SBU also said it is establishing routes used by North Korea to supply ballistic missiles to Russia.

Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin said earlier in February that Russian attacks against Ukraine with North Korean missiles had killed 14 civilians and injured 70 more.

A North Korean ballistic missile fired into Ukraine by the Russian military last month contained hundreds of components produced by companies in the U.S. and Europe, the Conflict Armament Research (CAR) organization said in its February report.

South Korea warned on Jan. 11 that its northern neighbor may also sell Russia new types of tactical guided missiles as military cooperation between the two countries strengthens.

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Denmark signs 10-year security agreement with Ukraine, announces new $247 million military aid package

Denmark has signed a 10-year agreement on security assistance for Ukraine, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a press conference on Feb. 22.

The security guarantees will be financed by Denmark's Ukraine Fund, which has so far earmarked more than 69 billion kroner ($10 billion) to the initiative, the Danish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The fund's financing runs until 2028.

The U.K., Germany, and France have earlier signed similar deals with Ukraine to help the country repel Russia’s aggression.

Norway, the Netherlands, and Italy have said they also hope to sign such agreements with Ukraine soon.

"If we don't stand together, Ukraine won't stand, and potentially Europe won't either," Frederiksen said.

"This is the most serious security policy situation since the end of the Cold War. And we, from the Danish government's side, cannot emphasize enough how important it is that Ukraine receives the military capabilities that they need."

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“If you ask Ukrainians, they are asking us for ammunition now, artillery now. From the Danish side, we decided to donate our entire artillery,” Frederiksen said.

As Russia increasingly puts it economy on a war footing, Ukraine's allies must continue the flow of military aid, said Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen.

"With Denmark's contribution to the international security commitments, we commit ourselves politically to securing our long-term support for Ukraine. We are sending the absolutely unequivocal signal that Ukraine can count on Denmark now and for as long as necessary," said Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.

The Danish Defense Ministry announced earlier on Feb. 22 that it would provide Ukraine with another defense aid package worth 1.7 billion Danish kroner (around $247 million) that includes ammunition and drone equipment, among other military material.

As part of the latest aid package, Denmark will reportedly finance the procurement of 15,000 out of 800,000 artillery shells the Czech Republic has found in third-party countries and proposed to send Ukraine.

The 155 mm artillery ammunition financed by Denmark is expected to be delivered to Ukraine within a few months, according to the defense ministry.

"The war in Ukraine is entering its third year, and here, the continued military support for Ukraine is completely decisive for the outcome of the war," said Poulsen.

It was Denmark’s 15th defense aid package committed to Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel), which tracks international aid for Ukraine, Denmark is the fourth largest provider of military aid to Ukraine, committing around 8.4 million euros ($9 billion) as of January 2024.

At 2.3% of GDP, Denmark is the second largest provider of military aid in terms of percentage of GDP.

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