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Russia mounts a massive missile and drone attack against Ukraine following its retaliation promise

Workers install the Ukrainian coat of arms on the shield in the hand of the country's tallest stature, the Motherland Monument, after the Soviet coat of arms was removed, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023. Ukraine is accelerating efforts to erase the vestiges of centuries of Soviet and Russian influence from the public space amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine by pulling down monuments and renaming hundreds of streets to honor home-grown artists, poets, military chiefs, and independence leaders. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Moscow unleashed a massive missile and drone barrage on western Ukraine Sunday, following through on its promise to retaliate for a Ukrainian attack on a Russian tanker.

Russian and Ukrainian shelling across the country overnight killed in at least six people, officials said.

Separately, Moscow’s second-largest airport briefly suspended flights early Sunday following a foiled drone attack near the Russian capital.

Ukraine’s air force said Russia launched 70 attack drones and missiles, including cruise missiles from aircraft over the Caspian Sea and Iranian-made, Shahed-136/131 strike UAVs.

Serhiy Tyurin, deputy head of Ukraine’s Khmelnytsky region military administration, said three waves of missiles hit the Starokostiantyniv area, damaging several buildings and igniting a fire at a warehouse. The strike may have been intended for the city’s airfield, officials said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the facilities of aircraft engine manufacturer Motor Sich in the Zaporizhzhia region had also come under attack.

The Russian barrage came after a Ukrainian drone attack on a Russian tanker in the Black Sea near Crimea late Friday. Ukraine also struck a major Russian port with drones earlier the same day.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned what she called a Ukrainian “terrorist attack” on a civilian vessel in the Kerch Strait.

“There can be no justification for such barbaric actions, they will not go unanswered and their authors and perpetrators will inevitably be punished,” Zakharova posted on the Telegram messaging app.

An official with Ukraine’s Security Service confirmed to The Associated Press that a Ukrainian drone packed with 450 kilograms (992 pounds) of explosive the service struck the tanker that as transporting fuel for Russian forces. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Russia’s Federal Agency for Marine and River Transport posted on Telegram that although the drone blasted a hole in the tanker’s engine room, there were no casualties among the 11 crew members. On Sunday, a Ukrainian missile hit the Chonhar bridge that connects the Russian-occupied Kherson region and northern Crimea.

The strike caused minor damage to the bridge’s roadway, said Vladimir Saldo, the Moscow-installed leader of the Kherson region. He also said that several more rockets had been shot down by air defense forces at the time of the attack.

The bridge, which is one of three key road bridges connecting the Crimean peninsula to the mainland, was previously attacked on July 22 and 29.

Two of the six fatalities overnight Sunday occurred during a Russian air strike in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, according to the head of the local regional military administration, Oleh Syniehubov. Another four people were injured.

Zelenskyy said that a guided bomb had hit a blood transfusion center in the area’s Kupyan district late on August 5.

“This war crime alone says everything about Russian aggression,” Zelenskyy wrote on social media. “Defeating terrorists is a matter of honor for everyone who values life.”

Heavy shelling continued along the frontline in Eastern Ukraine as Kyiv continues to push forward with its ongoing counteroffensive. Elsewhere in the Kharkiv region, a 58-year-old woman was killed and a 66-year-old man was hospitalized after Russian shelling of the village of Podoly, an official said. In Ukraine’s eastern Kupyan region, Russian missiles injured a 55-year-old man and ignited a forest fire, officials said on social media. Russian attacks in the Donetsk region villages of Torske and Niu-York killed two people, local governor Pavlo Kyrylenko posted on social media.

Ukrainian shelling in Russian-held Donetsk killed a woman in her eighties, the city’s Moscow-appointed mayor Alexei Kulemzin said Sunday. The shelling also set the main building of a university on fire, according to the Moscow-installed head of the illegally annexed region, Denis Pushilin.

Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry said that the blaze caused the building’s roof to collapse, but that there were no casualties.

Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, located 15 kilometers (9 miles) southwest of the Russian capital, briefly suspended flights Sunday morning after a drone was shot down in the airspace around the city. The attack was one of four strikes on the Russian capital in the space of a month, spotlighting Moscow’s vulnerability as Russia’s war in Ukraine drags into its second year.

The drone was destroyed by air defense systems in the Podolsk region of the Moscow suburbs, the Russian defense ministry said.

The Russian defense ministry said no one was injured from the abortive drone attack, although Russian media outlet Baza later reported that a 77-year-old man suffered a shrapnel wound to his hand. The reports could not be independently verified.

Ukrainian authorities, which generally avoid commenting on attacks on Russian soil, didn’t say whether it launched the raid.

Flights were last halted at the airport on July 30, when two drones crashed into the Moscow City business district after being jammed by Russian air defenses.