Russian soldiers killed in Himars strike on holiday resort turned barracks

A rocket fires into the air from a Himars system - HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
A rocket fires into the air from a Himars system - HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Ukraine attacked the occupied south-eastern city of Melitopol on Saturday evening, reportedly levelling a Russian base with Himars missiles.

Reports suggest the evening attack hit a hotel and resort complex and nearby church that were being used as barracks. Russian soldiers may have been eating in the mess hall when it was hit.

Ivan Fedorov, the exiled Ukrainian mayor, said that scores of "invaders" were killed, while pro-Moscow authorities said two people were killed and 10 injured.

Yevgeny Balitsky, the Moscow-appointed governor in the region, said air defence systems had shot down two missiles, while another four hit their target.

He described the site as a "recreation centre" where people were dining and said it had been destroyed.

Videos showed a huge blaze at the site and emergency workers clambering over the debris. Another Moscow-installed official said flames had engulfed the centre.

Himars multiple rocket launchers have been among Ukraine's most effective weapons in the war, delivering precision fire on hundreds of targets, including Russian command posts.

Melitopol is a major industrial and transport centre that has been occupied by Russia since March.

Oleksy Arestovych, an adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said the city is key to Moscow's defence of the southern territory under its control.

"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," Mr Arestovych said.

"If Melitopol falls, the entire defence line all the way to Kherson collapses. Ukrainian forces gain a direct route to Crimea."