The Directorate for Strategic Communications of the Ukrainian army confirmed Ukraine hit two ammunition depots in Ilovaisk (Donetsk Oblast) and Brylivka belonging to Russia in the early hours of Friday morning. A huge blaze was reported in Ilovaisk – a major regional railway hub – at around 2am local time, with explosions audible for some time afterwards. Footage shared on social media show massive flames erupting and thick, dark plumes of smoke filling the Ukrainian night sky.
Twitter user “Chuck Pfarrer” (@ChuckPfarrer), whose profile describes him as a “former SEAL Team Six Squadron Leader”, retweeted a video of the blaze at the Russian ammunition depot.
He wrote alongside this: “NO WHERE TO HIDE – Ukrainian precision strike artillery has targeted a RU ammo depot in Ilovaisk, 40km behind the Forward Edge of the Battle Area in Donetsk Oblast.
“UKR Partisans likely designated this target, and HIMARS took it out. Note the secondary explosions.”
Ukrainian journalist Denis Kazansky said the resulting explosions were so powerful “that windows were shattered in nearby buildings”.
He added: “Eyewitnesses report that scattered shell bits were lying on the streets. The fire continues. The route from the city is closed.”
Ilovaisk city in the Khartsyzk municipality, Donetsk Oblast where Russians are based.
It was also the site of a battle in the conflict of 2014.
Before hitting the Ilovaisk facility, the Ukrainian Armed Forces struck another Russian ammunition depot in Brylivka – home to another key railway hub under Russian occupation.
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Brylivka is located around 50 kilometres to the south-east of the city of Kherson and 30 kilometres north of the Black Sea coast.
The latest strikes come with the UK’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace claiming Russian forces are “effectively crippled” as Putin insists on a “meat grinder” war strategy.
He told BBC’s Today programme: “Putin hasn’t changed from his desire to occupy the whole of Ukraine, take Kyiv and Odesa, but his army has been effectively crippled by huge amounts of losses. Over 25,000 dead. Maybe twice as many injured.
“When I talk about meat grinder, which is what they’re doing, is that they are resorting to a sort of Soviet tactic… moving very slowly – metres, not miles, a day, in some parts.
“And on the top of the meat grinder, they are recruiting from the poorest districts in Russia, and the ethnic minorities, and they are using mercenaries, shoving these people in with very little regard to the outcome, grinding forward.”
The Defence Secretary added longer-range Western weapons are “now having a material effect”, and that the Russians “are operating their army at roughly about 40 to 50 percent combat effective”.