Russia beats up Ukrainian Mykolayiv, kills top businessman

Russia beats up Ukrainian Mykolayiv, kills top businessman

Kyiv, Ukraine—Russia unleashed some of the war’s worst barrages on Ukraine’s southern port city of Mykolayiv on Sunday, killing among others the owner of one of the country’s leading agricultural companies, when Moscow reported a drone strike on the headquarters of its Black Sea Fleet.

Mykolaiv, a strategic city that Russia tried but failed to capture in the early weeks of the war, has come under repeated attacks by Russian Smerch and Uragan missiles and long-range artillery in recent weeks, with nine people killed in a cluster munitions attack on Friday were at a busy bus stop.

Hours of barrage at dawn on Sunday damaged a hotel, a sports complex, two schools, an auto repair shop and several blocks of flats and caused fires in the city, the regional government said. “Mykolaiv suffered a massive artillery attack – perhaps the largest ever,” Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich said on social media.

One of the shells hit a Mykolaiv mansion owned by Oleksiy Vadaturskyi, the majority shareholder and executive director of conglomerate Nibulon LLC, killing him and his wife, the regional administration said.

Nibulon, one of Ukraine’s largest companies, operates its own grain and oilseed export port in Mykolaiv, as well as grain storage facilities across Ukraine with a capacity of 2.25 million tons, according to the company’s website. Mr. Vadaturskyi, 74, received the country’s highest award, the title of Hero of Ukraine, in 2007 for his contribution to its development.

Russian artillery and rocket attacks also hit the northeastern city of Kharkiv and Ukrainian-held cities in Donbass.

On Saturday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on all people living in the Donbass to heed a government order for immediate evacuation. Ukraine controls about 40% of Donetsk region, one of the two that make up Donbass, and four weeks ago lost its remaining foothold in neighboring Luhansk region.

Russia beats up Ukrainian Mykolayiv kills top businessman

A Ukrainian man said goodbye to his wife as she left with their children during an evacuation from Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine on Saturday.

Photo: bulent kilić/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

“The more people are now leaving the Donbass, the fewer people the Russian army will be able to kill,” said Zelenskyy. “At this stage of the war, terror is Russia’s main weapon.” Hundreds of thousands of people, including tens of thousands of children, have remained in the Ukrainian-controlled areas of Donbass, including the major cities of Kramatorsk, Sloviansk and Bakhmut.

Ukraine’s government previously said it would not be able to provide heating due to the non-stop Russian attacks on those cities next winter, and warned that anyone who chooses to stay will have to sign a special waiver. Mr Zelensky pledged full logistical support and financial support from the government for those leaving.

Mr Zelensky’s appeal, made during a regular televised address, came as Kyiv called for Russia to be declared a state sponsor of terrorism and continued to push for an investigation into the killing of scores of Ukrainian prisoners of war in an explosion Thursday night at Olenivka detention center in the Russian-held part of the Donbass. Moscow has accused Ukraine of targeting the facility with Western-made weapons. Kyiv said the prisoners, most of them members of the Azov Battalion, captured in Mariupol in May, were deliberately executed in the blast after being tortured. It called for an international investigation.

1659271978 57 Russia beats up Ukrainian Mykolayiv kills top businessman

Satellite images show the Olenivka detention center in eastern Ukraine, where dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed.

Photo: Maxar Technologies/Associated Press

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which helped negotiate Azov’s surrender in besieged Mariupol, said Saturday night Russia had rejected its request to visit Ukrainian prisoners of war from the Olenivka facility. “Granting ICRC access to prisoners of war is an obligation of the parties to the conflict under the Geneva Conventions,” it said.

In Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula, which Russia wrested from Ukraine and annexed in 2014, a small drone attack on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet injured six officers and caused minor damage, according to the Russian state news agency Tass. Local governor Mikhail Razvozhaev blamed Ukraine for carrying out the attack and urged city residents to stay home. Sunday’s Russian Navy Day celebrations have been canceled in Sevastopol. The type of drone used in the attack could only be flown from the immediate vicinity of the city, which is about 150 miles from the nearest Ukrainian territory.

While Ukraine has repeatedly used drones to attack military and logistical infrastructure facilities in Russia since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, Ukrainian officials on Sunday denied involvement in the attack in Sevastopol. Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odessa military administration, said the strike in Sevastopol was a Russian provocation. “The liberation of our Crimea from the occupiers will not happen like this and much more efficiently,” he said. “All in good time.”

1659271978 799 Russia beats up Ukrainian Mykolayiv kills top businessman

A game of chess before curfew in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa.

Photo: NACHO DOCE/Portal

In the escalating energy dispute between Moscow and the European Union, Russian state-owned energy producer Gazprom PJSC halted gas supplies to Latvia on Saturday, saying without elaborating that Riga had breached contract terms. The announcement comes days after Gazprom said gas exports through the vital Nord Stream pipeline linking Russia with Germany would fall to about a fifth of the pipeline’s capacity, blaming sanctions-related problems with turbines that have already reduced flow .

Gazprom has already stopped supplies to other countries, including Poland, Finland and the Netherlands, because they refused to pay in rubles instead of euros. Latvia is already halting imports of Russian gas and will block all further imports on January 1, 2023, Latvian natural gas company AS Latvijas Gāze said ahead of Gazprom’s announcement.

Kiev’s call to brand Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism follows the US Senate’s approval two days earlier of a non-binding resolution urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to authorize such a measure. Some US officials say it could severely limit prospects for diplomatic engagement with Russia, but Ukraine says recent evidence of Russian atrocities – including footage allegedly showing the torture of Ukrainian prisoners of war – only underscores the urgency of such a move raise.

Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, described the killing of Ukrainian prisoners in Olenivka as “Ukraine’s Katyn,” a reference to the mass executions of some 22,000 Polish prisoners of war by Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union in 1940.

Hours after news of the attack broke, the Russian Embassy in the UK tweeted that “Azov militants deserve execution… They deserve a humiliating death.” The tweet prompted numerous calls for the account to be suspended and the post removed by Twitter, which was later updated to indicate that it violated the platform’s rules on hateful behavior.

write to Yaroslav Trofimov at [email protected] and Matthew Luxmoore at [email protected]

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8