Kharkiv hit by renewed Russian shelling

STORY: Russian forces have pounded Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv and surrounding countryside with rockets, killing at least 15 people, with reports of more casualties.

The strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday (June 22) were the worst for weeks, after normal life had started to return.

Ukraine pushed Russian forces back in a counter-offensive last month.

Kyiv said the renewed attack aimed to force it to pull resources from the main battlefield so as to protect civilians from attack.

Charred ruins are what remains of cottages struck on Tuesday (June 21) in a rural area on the city’s outskirts.

Medical workers searched the debris for those who did not survive the attack.

Including Mykyta’s grandmother.

“85-years-old. A child of the war. She survived one war, but didn't make it through this one.”

He says she was in the garden when the missile struck.

“I realized that no one is safe from this, anything can happen, but there is nowhere to run away. Especially grandmother herself didn't want to go anywhere from here.”

The main battlefield is now to the south in the Donbas region - made up of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces.

Ukrainian forces in the Donbas have largely withstood the Russian assault so far.

But Moscow has made slow progress, deploying overwhelming artillery in some of the heaviest ground fighting in Europe since World War Two.

The city of Sievierodonetsk, located in Luhansk, has seen some of the heaviest fighting so far.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday night the military situation there remained very difficult.

Kyiv has said Russian forces could cut off Sievierodonetsk from Ukrainian-held territory.

But Ukraine’s forces aren’t ready to give up.

Reuters filmed Ukrainian soldiers firing at back Russian forces in the industrial city.

And Ukrainian troops are reportedly still holding out at a chemical plant in the city’s east bank.

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