Russia rocked by third explosion near Ukraine border as conflagration sends cars haywire

Large explosion rocks Russian city of Kursk

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Cars on the street are seen going haywire after a loud explosion can be heard in Kursk, Russia, about 90km from the Ukrainian border. It is the third explosion in Russia recorded recently, after a second incident 60km from the Ukrainian border in a munitions recovery depot, and another warehouse was hit in the Russian-occupied city of Kherson. It comes as Ukraine appealed for more weapons from the West to fend off Russian offensives in the south and east of Ukraine. 

Ukraine said it urgently needed more arms supplies in an appeal aimed at the West as the leaders of Germany, France, and Italy headed to Kyiv by night train for a visit today. 

Ukrainian soldiers are fighting to retake ground in wheat fields and empty villages along a deserted motorway between the city of Mykolaiv and Russian-occupied Kherson.

Major-General Dmytro Marchenko, who leads Ukraine’s forces in Mykolaiv, said his troops could achieve victory over Russia if they are given the right weapons.

He said: “It is clear that this will not end soon. But then again, if we are given all the weapons that we need, the counter-offensive could well be over by the end of the summer.”

Russia has focused most of its firepower on the eastern city of Severodonetsk while also trying to consolidate control over southern territory encompassing the strategic city of Kherson, north of the Black Sea.

Ukrainian troops holed up alongside civilians in a Severodonetsk chemical plant ignored a Russian ultimatum to lay down their arms on Wednesday. 

The city’s mayor, Oleksandr Stryuk, says Ukrainian troops were still defending the city, even though all of its river bridges had been destroyed.

Ukraine says more than 500 civilians, including 40 children, remain alongside soldiers inside the Azot chemical factory, sheltering from weeks of Russian bombardment. Separatists in the area say up to 1,200 civilians may be inside.

Russia said it had opened a humanitarian corridor from Azot on Wednesday to allow civilians to escape territory it controls.

It accused Ukraine’s forces of disrupting that plan and using civilians as human shields, which Kyiv denies.

Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, said Ukraine’s army was defending Severodonetsk and trying to stop Russian forces from taking its twin city Lysychansk on the opposite bank of the Seversky Donets river.

British military intelligence said that with all main bridges destroyed, Russian forces would have to conduct a “contested” crossing of the river.


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Leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden have announced new arms packages for Ukraine in recent days, following appeals by Kyiv for help.

Biden pledged $1 billion worth of new aid on Wednesday, including anti-ship rocket systems, artillery rockets, and rounds for howitzers.

And NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was “extremely focused on stepping up support” for Ukraine.

But while Ukraine has welcomed the new pledges, it says deliveries are not coming fast enough.

Recent deliveries of M777 howitzers from the United States have been too few and Ukraine remains numerically outgunned, officials said.

Weapons provisions are likely to dominate discussions during Friday’s visit to Kyiv by leaders of the European Union’s three biggest countries.

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