Russian Rocket Attack Turns Ukrainian Marine Base to Rubble, Killing Dozens

MYKOLAIV, Ukraine — The headquarters of the thirty sixth Ukrainian Naval Infantry Brigade based mostly within the southern metropolis of Mykolaiv isn’t any extra. It’s now a pile of rubble, the place on Saturday rescuers continued to seek for our bodies of lacking marines.

An early morning rocket assault a day earlier destroyed the bottom’s barracks the place an unknown variety of marines had been sleeping. It killed as many as 40 marines, in keeping with a senior Ukrainian navy official, who spoke on situation of anonymity to disclose delicate navy data.

That quantity would make it one of many single deadliest assaults on Ukrainian forces because the begin of the struggle three weeks in the past. However there are indications that the dying toll may very well be a lot larger.

All day on Saturday, vans and vehicles with selfmade indicators saying “Load 200,” the code for navy deaths, got here out and in of the bottom’s entrance gates. Inside, exhausted wanting fireplace fighters scrambled over a pile of damaged concrete and rebar in quest of survivors.

On the Mykolaiv metropolis morgue, dozens of our bodies, some in uniform, had been laid out facet by facet in a storage space. A morgue worker wouldn’t say what number of had been newly introduced from website of the destroyed barracks.

“Many,” he stated. “I gained’t say what number of, however many.”

The Russian assault was a blow to this metropolis, which had been having fun with a interval of relative quiet after weeks of heavy shelling. Ukrainian forces had pushed again Russian troops past the vary of their artillery.

The senior Ukrainian official stated it was seemingly that the barracks had been hit by a longer-range weapon, like an Iskander-M ballistic missile, although Ukrainian authorities have launched few different particulars.

The governor of the Mykolaiv Area, Vitaliy Kim, who has develop into identified for his upbeat every day video messages, appeared somber on Saturday.

Russian forces, he stated, “dishonorably fired rockets at our sleeping troopers yesterday.”

“The rescue operation remains to be ongoing,” he stated. “I don’t wish to speak about it as a result of I’m awaiting official conclusions of the Ukrainian armed forces.”

In a Fb publish on Friday, the thirty sixth Brigade didn’t point out the assault, however revealed a video montage of the marines in motion, accompanied by a patriotic music. The publish stated that a number of of these within the video had “died an excellent dying within the subject of battle, by no means having heard the phrases sung of their honor.”

For weeks, Russian forces have been massed on the outskirts of Mykolaiv, making an attempt to encompass and seize town and seize management of the one bridge throughout the Southern Buh River, which might enable them to maneuver towards Odessa and the headquarters of the Ukrainian Navy.

The Ukrainian navy’s defenses in Mykolaiv have thus far held, although not with out losses. Dozens of civilians have been killed in shelling, usually with cluster munitions. A cruise missile assault on the barracks of the 79th Ukrainian Air Assault Brigade this month killed about 10 troopers, Ukrainian officers stated.

Regardless of the assault Friday, Ukrainian navy officers had been upbeat about their efforts to push the Russian traces farther east, away from town.

At a fortified Ukrainian place outdoors Mykolaiv on Saturday, troopers appeared relaxed, smoking and chatting in small teams outdoors their trenches. Volunteers introduced them jars of selfmade borscht for lunch.

“They don’t have the forces to assault Mykolaiv now,” stated Lt. Col. Yaroslav Chepurnoi, of the 79th Ukrainian Air Assault Brigade, which was deployed to that place. “However they appear to be getting ready one thing. They’ve began to dig in round totally different inhabitants facilities, and with fast raids we’ve steadily began to push them out of those locations. That’s how the struggle goes proper now.”

The spoils of struggle had been seen on the street. A big navy transport truck emblazoned with the white Z that Russian forces use to establish themselves was being towed into city. A half-destroyed armored Tigr combating automobile, Russia’s reply to the Humvee, was sitting on a flatbed truck.

Due to the lull in taking pictures, employees from native development corporations had been out on Saturday serving to to construct new trenches and an underground shelter compete with a wood-burning range.

One sergeant, who would give solely his first identify, Andrei, stated he left work as a safety guard and went to the native draft workplace the day Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, ordered his forces to invade Ukraine. He has been dwelling in a trench ever since.

He stated the assault on the marine base confirmed the necessity for western nations to supply Ukraine with extra missile protection methods. Regardless of the big lack of life in that assault, he stated he thought Russian forces had been now on their again foot.

“We’re holding the protection and ready for them to weaken,” he stated. “For my part we must always get an order to cleanse them to zero. However that’s simply my opinion. I’m a soldier.”

A part of the Ukrainian navy’s success, the sergeant stated, was the help it has obtained from native residents. Along with the borscht, he stated, locals introduced him a brand new cellphone in order that they might extra simply present him with details about Russian troop actions of their villages.

“They thought that the locals would meet them with flowers,” he stated, throwing in a number of unprintable phrases. “And the locals advised them, we don’t want your Russian world, so return to the place you come from.”

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