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Ukrainian military officials and regional authorities said on July 27 that Russian forces launched fresh indiscriminate missile barrages and drone strikes that killed and wounded several civilians as Ukraine’s military reportedly steps up its counteroffensive in the south.

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Meanwhile, Ukrainian soldiers recaptured a village in the Donetsk region, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on July 27, declaring “Our south! Our guys! Glory to Ukraine” as he celebrated his troops’ success.

In the central region of Vinnytsya, at least five people were wounded by debris falling from downed Russian Kalibr cruise missiles, regional Governor Serhiy Borzov said on July 27. He added that the strikes caused damage to economic and civilian infrastructure.

Odesa regional Governor Oleh Kiper said earlier on July 27 that Kalibr missiles launched from a Russian submarine in the Black Sea killed a security guard and damaged a cargo terminal. Odesa, Ukraine’s main Black Sea port, has been repeatedly targeted by Russian attacks since Moscow’s exiting a UN-brokered grain export deal earlier this month.

Zelensky visited a historic cathedral in Odesa late on July 27, his office said. The Transfiguration Cathedral had been damaged in a Russian strike on July 23.

Zelenskiy also visited hospitals in Odesa, Dnipro, and the Mykolayiv region, shaking hands with Ukrainian military personnel being treated at the facilities.

Separately, the General Staff of the Armed Forces said in its morning report that Russia once again used Iranian-made Shahed drones, adding that information about the consequences of the drone strikes is currently being clarified.

“Unfortunately, there are victims among the civilian population, and residential buildings were destroyed,” the military said.

Regional authorities reported early on July 27 that two civilians had been killed by Russian shelling in the previous 24 hours in the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions.

“The 35th brigade and the ‘Ariy’ territorial defense unit have fulfilled their task and liberated the village of Staromayorske. Glory to Ukraine!” said a soldier in a video Zelenskiy posted on social media.

The video could not immediately be verified.

The village lies to the south of a cluster of small settlements that Ukraine recaptured during a counteroffensive it began early in June.

Andriy Kovalev, a spokesman for the General Staff, confirmed that Ukrainian troops achieved success in the Staromayorske area of the Donetsk region on the southern front, and Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar also reported that Staromayorske had been liberated.

“Our defenders are currently carrying out clearing operations” of Russian troops, she said on Telegram.

The General Staff announced late on July 27 that Ukrainian forces continued to conduct an offensive operation in the areas of Melitopol and Berdyansk and were entrenched at the achieved boundaries.

The Ukrainian military has given limited information about the state of its counteroffensive in the Russia-occupied south, with Malyar only saying troops are advancing toward the city of Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhya region.

But an unnamed Western official told the Associated Press on July 26 that a Ukrainian surge in troops and firepower has been centered on Zaporizhzhya.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 27 admitted that the fighting in the Zaporizhzhya region of southeastern Ukraine has “intensified significantly,” but claimed that Ukraine’s thrust had been unsuccessful.

Putin, speaking in St. Petersburg on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit, lauded what he said was the “heroism” of Russian troops and claimed that Ukrainian forces suffered heavy material and human losses.

His claims could not be independently verified.

Earlier on July 27, Zelenskiy traveled to the city of Dnipro, which has been repeatedly subjected to air attacks.

“We began the working day in Dnipro,” Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram messaging app. “Close attention to providing troops with ammunition…. The effectiveness of using existing air-defense systems and strengthening the air shield,” Zelenskiy wrote, referring to the topics of discussion with the military and regional officials.

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said Russia has damaged or destroyed 26 port installations and grain storage facilities since refusing to extend the deal that would have allowed the continued export of Ukrainian food to the world.

Kubrakov, speaking late on July 26, said the goal of the Russian attacks “to deprive the world of Ukrainian food, thus creating a global food crisis.”

NATO allies and Ukraine on July 26 condemned Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Black Sea grain deal and what they said were Russia’s deliberate attempts to stop Ukraine’s agricultural exports.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on July 27 that a “handful of donations to some countries” won’t correct the dramatic impact of the end of a deal. Putin promised during a Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg this week to free Russian grain “to replace Ukrainian grain.”

In a statement issued after a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council in Brussels, NATO said the allies also condemned Russia’s recent missile attacks on Odesa, Mykolayiv, and other port cities, including Moscow’s “cynical” drone attack on the Ukrainian grain storage facility in the Danube port city of Reni, which is close to Ukraine’s border with NATO-member Romania.

“Russia continues to show utter disrespect for international law and for the people worldwide who depend on Ukrainian grain,” NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana said in the statement. “We stand in solidarity with our Black Sea Allies, we will continue to protect one another, and we will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

In addition, NATO allies said they would step up surveillance in the Black Sea region, including with maritime patrol aircraft and drones.

Zelenskiy welcomed the council’s “сlear and unequivocal condemnation” of Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal.

The NATO-Ukraine Council serves as a platform for exchanges during crisis situations and aims to foster closer cooperation until Ukraine can fulfil conditions for NATO membership.

The deal expired on July 17 after Russia quit in a move the United Nations said would “strike a blow to people in need everywhere.”

Moscow said its reason for quitting the deal was that its demands to improve exports of its grain and fertilizer were not met.

Russia also said ships traveling to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports would be seen as possibly carrying military cargoes.

Russia fired a barrage of missiles at Ukraine during the NATO-Ukraine council meeting. Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said the Ukrainian military shot down Russian missiles in the Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Dnipropetrovsk regions late on July 26.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

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