A picture taken during a visit to Melitopol organized by the Russian military shows a woman walking past a Russian military truck in downtown Melitopol, Zaporizhia region, southeastern Ukraine, on July 14. The letter Z, painted on Russian military vehicles in Ukraine, has become a symbol of support for the Russian army. File Photo by Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA-EFE
Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Ukraine launched missiles at barracks in the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine with some Russian deaths reported.
Moscow-installed administrators said four missiles hit Melitopol on Saturday, killing two and injuring 10, The Guardian reported.
CNN also reported multiple explosions in Russian-annexed Crimea and self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. Russia took over Crimea, a peninsula south of Ukraine, in 2014, and Donetsk had been held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014 and annexed this year. Melitopol, which was once known as the gateway to the Crimea in the southeast, has been occupied since March by Russia.
Russian state media said 20 missiles hit the Donetsk People's Republic on Sunday morning, including some near the Opera and Ballet Theater and the Kalinin Hospital. Alexei Kulemzin, head of the Russian-backed city administration, said Ukraine launched 20 Grad missiles at 5:54 a.m. Sunday in the Voroshilovsky and Kalininsky districts.
Explosions were seen in military barracks in Sovietske, Crimea. Also, there were blasts reported in Crimean city of Simferopol on Saturday night.
And an explosion rocked the Wagner mercenary group's headquarters in the eastern Luhansk region of Ukraine on Saturday, according to a regional official. Plus, the Russian state news agency TASS reported an explosion took place Saturday in a "private hotel" building in Kadiivka.
Melitopol's mayor reported several explosions, including at a church occupied by Russian forces and used as a gathering place. The mayor said the attack "completely destroyed" a recreation center where "people, civilians, and [military] base personnel were having dinner on Saturday night."
Ivan Fedorov, Ukraine's former administrator of the city, said they had targeted Russian military bases. He is no longer in the city.
"The Russian military is settling in local houses they seized, schools and kindergartens. Military equipment is stationed in residential areas," Fedorov said in November.
Ukrainian officials have not commented on the explosions in Crimea or in the Donetsk People's Republic.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Melitopol, a major industrial and transport center, is key to the Russian takeover.
"All logistics linking the Russian forces on the eastern part of the Kherson region and all the way to the Russian border near Mariupol is carried out through it," Arestovych said in a video interview on social media.
"If Melitopol falls, the entire [Russian] defence line all the way to Kherson collapses. Ukrainian forces gain a direct route to Crimea."
Russia shelled Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region and surrounding territories overnight, a local Ukrainian official said.
Meanwhile, 1.5 million people in the Odessa region of Ukraine have been left without power after strikes by Iranian-made drones. That includes non-critical infrastructure in port, forcing its closure Sunday though grain traders will continue to ship the crops via two other ports.
"In total, Russian terrorists used 15 Shahed drones against Odesa," Zelensky said during his daily address Saturday. "This is the true attitude of Russia towards Odessa, towards Odessa residents -- deliberate bullying, deliberate attempt to bring disaster to the city. Our sky defenders managed to shoot down 10 drones out of 15. Well done!"
In return, he said "Ukrainian sky defenders" shot down 10 of the 15 drones. He said it will "take a few days to restore electricity supply in the region."
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Facebook all thermal and hydroelectric power stations have been damaged to some degree, including said 40% of all high-voltage network facilities.
Also, Viktor Bout, the arms dealer who was returned to Russia in a prisoner swap for U.S. citizen Brittney Griner on Thursday, told RT he "fully support[s]" the Russian operation.
"If I had the chance and required skills, I would have definitely volunteered."