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Drone footage shows Ukrainian village battered to ruins as residents flee Russian advance

This drone footage obtained by The Associated Press shows the village of Ocheretyne, a target for Russian forces in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. (Kherson/Green via AP) This drone footage obtained by The Associated Press shows the village of Ocheretyne, a target for Russian forces in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. (Kherson/Green via AP)
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KYIV, Ukraine -

The Ukrainian village of Ocheretyne has been battered by fighting, drone footage obtained overnight by The Associated Press shows. The village has been a target for Russian forces in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

Russian troops have been advancing in the area, pounding Kyiv’s depleted, ammunition-deprived forces with artillery, drones and bombs. Ukraine’s military has acknowledged the Russians have gained a “foothold” in Ocheretyne, which had a population of about 3,000 before the war, but says that fighting continues.

Residents have scrambled to flee the village, among them a 98-year-old woman who walked almost 10 kilometres (six miles) alone last week, wearing a pair of slippers and supported by a cane, until she reached Ukrainian front lines.

Not a single person is seen in the footage obtained late Friday, and no building in Ocheretyne appears to have been left untouched by the fighting. Most houses, apartment blocks and other buildings look damaged beyond repair, and many houses have been pummeled into piles of wood and bricks. A factory on the outskirts has also been badly damaged.

The footage also shows smoke billowing from several houses, and fires burning in at least two buildings.

Elsewhere, Russia has in recent weeks stepped up attacks on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, in an attempt to pummel the region’s energy infrastructure and terrorize its 1.3 million residents.

Four people were wounded and a two-story civilian building was damaged and set ablaze overnight after Russian forces struck Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, with exploding drones, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said Saturday.

The four, including a 13-year-old, were hurt by falling debris, he said on the Telegram messaging app.

Russian state agency RIA reported Saturday that Moscow’s forces struck a drone warehouse in Kharkiv that had been used by Ukrainian troops overnight, citing Sergei Lebedev, described as a coordinator of local pro-Moscow guerrillas. His comments could not be independently verified.

Russian forces continued hitting Kharkiv and its surroundings on Saturday, according to updates posted by Syniehubov and other Ukrainian officials on the Telegram messenger app. One strike hit a civilian business in an industrial district of the city, wounding at least six people, Syniehubov said. A further attack killed a 49-year-old civilian outside his house in Slobozhanske, a village northeast of the city, the governor reported.

In the Black Sea port of Odesa, which has been repeatedly targeted in recent days, three people were hurt in a rocket attack on “civil infrastructure,” regional Gov. Oleh Kiper said.

Ukraine’s military said Russia launched a total of 13 Shahed drones at the Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions of eastern Ukraine overnight, all of which were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.

Ukraine’s energy ministry on Saturday said the overnight strikes damaged an electrical substation in the Dnipropetrovsk region, briefly depriving households and businesses of power.

According to Serhii Lysak, the province's governor, falling drone debris damaged critical infrastructure and three private houses, one of which caught fire. Two residents were hospitalized.

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed early on Saturday that its forces overnight shot down four U.S.-provided long-range ATACMS missiles over the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014. The ministry did not provide further details.

Ukraine has recently begun using the missiles, provided secretly by the United States, to hit Russian-held areas, including a military airfield in Crimea and in another area east of the occupied city of Berdyansk, U.S. officials said last week.

Long sought by the leadership in Kyiv, the new missiles give Ukraine nearly double the striking distance — up to 300 kilometres (190 miles) — than it had with the mid-range version of the weapons it received from the U.S. last October.

Later that day, Russia’s Emergencies Ministry reported that a major fire had engulfed a warehouse on the outskirts of the Crimean city of Simferopol. Dozens of emergency workers were dispatched to the site, and had extinguished the fire by early evening, according to the ministry.

The ministry did not say what had caused the blaze, or what was stored at the warehouse. There were no immediate reports of casualties or comment from Ukraine.

Also on Saturday, a Ukrainian drone damaged telecommunications infrastructure on the outskirts of Belgorod, a Russian city some 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the Ukrainian border, according to the local governor. Vyacheslav Gladkov did not say what the site was used for.

Hours later, Gladkov reported that five people in Belgorod were hospitalized, with shrapnel wounds and other injuries, following a strong blast on Saturday that also damaged around 30 private homes and sparked two fires. He did not immediately clarify what caused the explosions.

One Telegram news channel focusing on Belgorod posted claims Saturday that a Russian aerial bomb meant for Ukraine's Kharkiv region across the border might have been dropped on the city by mistake.

According to an update by Pepel ("Ashes" in English), a channel run by Belgorod journalists now based outside Russia, local authorities had not issued any warnings prior to the blast. The destruction also appeared inconsistent with a Ukrainian drone strike, the post alleged.

Russian officials did not immediately respond to these claims, which could not be independently verified.

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