Thursday, May 23, 2024
News/WorldWorld News

Russian strike on Kharkiv TV tower ‘obvious attempt at intimidation,’ Zelenskyy says

A Russian missile strike that broke in half a 240-metre television tower in Kharkiv on Monday is part of a deliberate effort by Moscow to make Ukraine’s second-largest city uninhabitable, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Dramatic footage obtained by Reuters showed the main mast of the television tower breaking off and falling to the ground in the city that has been pounded by missile and drone strikes for weeks.

The Ukrainian leader said he told U.S. President Joe Biden about the airstrike that was carried out several minutes before they spoke by telephone.

“It is Russia’s clear intention to make the city uninhabitable,” he said in a readout of the call published on the Telegram messaging app.

Later, in his nightly video address, the Ukrainian president said the attack was “an obvious attempt at intimidation so that the terror was visible to the whole city and an attempt to limit Kharkiv’s access to communication and information.”

Close proximity to border

The northeastern city of Kharkiv with a population of 1.3 million lies just 30 kilometres from the Russian border, making it an easy target for ballistic missiles and other weapons as Ukraine’s air defences have dwindled.

Its power facilities have been damaged particularly badly since Russia began targeting the energy system last month with massive strikes.

A view of a partially destroyed TV tower in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in the aftermath of a Russian missile strike.
A view of the partially destroyed TV tower in Kharkiv, Ukraine, that was hit by a Russian missile strike on Monday. (Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Reuters)

“At the moment, there are interruptions to the digital television signal,” regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said, noting there had been no casualties because workers had taken shelter. 

Synehubov later reported a missile attack had triggered a fire at a poultry farm outside Kharkiv, but without casualties. And prosecutors said one person was killed in the shelling of a village southeast of the city.

Reuters footage filmed at the scene in the aftermath showed the collapsed section of the tower lying in a forested strip nearby. Buildings next to the tower had been badly damaged by falling debris.

The Service for State Special Communications said the structure of the tower had been “partially damaged” in what prosecutors said appeared to have been a strike with a Kh-59 cruise missile.

It said there was “temporarily” no television signal and that they were working to restore it, urging residents of the city and region without a digital television signal to use cable or online television, or the radio.

The footage obtained by Reuters did not capture the impact of a missile, but showed a cloud of smoke rise into the sky as the mast fell.

The video was verified by corroborating video from another angle showing the same moment the top of the tower collapsed.

Ukrainian forces operate a self-propelled howitzer, firing toward Russian positions, in the Kharkiv region.
Ukrainian forces operate a self-propelled howitzer, firing toward Russian positions, in the Kharkiv region on Sunday. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia first attacked Kharkiv’s television tower several times in early March 2022, soon after it launched its full-scale invasion the previous month. The signal was disrupted at the time.

Moscow has recently stepped up its attacks, while Ukraine is suffering a shortage of air defence capabilities. Kharkiv and the surrounding region have experienced the most intense strikes.

Pressure on Chasiv Yar

Also Monday, Ukraine’s military said it faced a difficult situation in the vicinity of the eastern Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar, where it said Russia has a force of 20,000 to 25,000 troops trying to storm the town of and surrounding villages.

Ukraine has full control of Chasiv Yar, which lies on strategic high ground in the partially occupied Donetsk region, but Kyiv’s top commander has said Russia wants to capture the town by May 9, when it marks Soviet Victory Day in the Second World War.

“The situation around the town is difficult, however the situation is controllable,” said Nazar Voloshyn, a spokesperson for the eastern military command. “Our defenders are both receiving reinforcement and stabilizing the line.” 

“It’s somewhere around 20,000 to 25,000 Russian servicemen trying to storm Chasiv Yar and the outskirts of settlements near it,” he said in televised comments on public broadcaster Suspilne.

A Ukrainian soldier prepares a night drone for operation near a front-line position near Chasiv Yar, Ukraine.
A Ukrainian soldier prepares a drone for operation near a front-line position near Chasiv Yar, Ukraine, on Monday. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)

The capture of Chasiv Yar would bring Russia closer to Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, two strategically important cities under Ukrainian control.

Russia has already been inching forward, but long-delayed U.S. military assistance is expected to reach Ukraine, relieving critical ammunition shortages in a matter of days following its expected final approval this week.

“It is difficult for our soldiers, but receiving the necessary assistance will even out the situation,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram.

The expected incoming aid from the U.S. will include long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) Ukraine has long sought, according to Zelenskyy. 

ATACMS are long-range guided missiles. The White House last October confirmed that it had provided Kyiv with a type of ATACMS capable of hitting targets up to 165 kilometres away.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *