Russian ammo depot reportedly on fire in Kherson region

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Thick clouds of smoke have been filmed emerging from the site of an equipment and ammunition depot of Russia’s military in the occupied Ukrainian town of Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region. The city of Kherson and the surrounding region were seized by Russia in the early stages of the February 24 invasion of Ukraine and have been the focus of Ukrainian counter-offensives. 

Footage from the area shows smoke pouring out from the area of the Russian supply warehouse.

The cause of the fire is not immediately known, however, numerous Russian ammunition storage sites have come under attack from the Armed Forces of Ukraine in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has shown no signs of obeying a Russian ultimatum to surrender the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk on Wednesday as NATO defence ministers gathered in Brussels to discuss sending more heavy weapons to replenish Kyiv’s dwindling stocks.

Russia had told Ukrainian forces holed up in a chemical plant in the shattered city to stop “senseless resistance and lay down arms” from Wednesday morning, pressing its advantage in the battle for control of eastern Ukraine.

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Plans announced by Moscow to open a humanitarian corridor for civilians holed up in the plant were disrupted, Russian-backed separatists said, blaming shelling by Ukraine.

Ukraine says more than 500 civilians are trapped alongside soldiers inside the Azot chemical factory where its forces have resisted weeks of Russian bombardment and assaults that have reduced much of Sievierodonetsk to ruins.

The mayor of Sievierodonetsk, Oleksandr Stryuk, said after the early morning deadline passed that Russian forces were trying to storm the city from several directions but Ukrainian forces continued to defend it and were not completely cut off.

“We are trying to push the enemy towards the city centre,” he said on television, without referring to the ultimatum. “This is an ongoing situation with partial successes and tactical retreats.”

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“The escape routes are dangerous, but there are some,” he said.

His comments echoed those by Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region containing Sievierodonetsk, posted online just before Russia’s 8 a.m. Moscow time (0500 GMT) deadline.

He said the army was defending Sievierodonetsk and keeping it from Lysychansk, the twin city held by Ukraine on the opposite bank of the Siverskyi Donets river.

“Nevertheless, the Russians are close and the population is suffering, and homes are being destroyed.”

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Luhansk is one of two eastern provinces Moscow claims on behalf of separatist proxies. Together they make up the Donbas, an industrial Ukrainian region where Russia has focused its assault after failing to take Ukraine’s capital Kyiv in March.

British intelligence said the fighters in the chemical plant could survive underground and Russian forces would likely remain focused on them, keeping them from attacking elsewhere.

The Azot bombardment echoes the earlier siege of the Azovstal steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, where hundreds of fighters and civilians took shelter from Russian shelling.

Those inside surrendered in mid-May and were taken into Russian custody.

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