Ukrainian military authorities said that partisans had bombed a Russian military headquarters in the occupied city of Melitopol, killing three officers, the latest in a series of attacks aimed at weakening Russia’s grip on the territory it controls even as Kyiv’s counter offensive has effectively stalled.
Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Unit described the attack, which took place Saturday, as an act of revenge, and said that at least three Russian national guard officers were killed in the explosion. Russia’s Ministry of Defense has not commented on the episode, and it was not possible to verify it independently because it took place behind Russian lines.
“The strike caused a panic in Melitopol, as many Russian proxy police officers rushed to the scene with their sirens on,” the intelligence unit said on the Telegram messaging app on Sunday. “A while later, they dragged a car that had been burned near the headquarters through the occupied city to their station.”
Melitopol, in southern Ukraine near the Sea of Azov, was captured by Russia early in the war, and remains a center for Russian forces and pro-Moscow authorities seeking to assert their control and promote Russian culture and identity. As such it is also a hotbed of attempted sabotage and assassinations by anti-Russian partisans hoping to disrupt the Kremlin’s control.
Since early in Russia’s invasion, partisan activity has been a feature of Ukraine’s military action in territory seized by Moscow, which represents around one-fifth of Ukrainian territory. That has included a series of attacks against Ukrainian politicians who have collaborated with the Russian authorities.
Those attacks appear to have gathered intensity in recent weeks, coupled with missile and drone strikes against Russian military infrastructure.
At the end of last month, Russian officials reported that Oleh Tsarov, a former member of Ukraine’s Parliament who had supported Moscow’s invasion last year, had been shot in Yalta, a city in the occupied region of Crimea. Ukraine’s security service said that it had tried to assassinate him. Mr. Tsarov later posted a video on social media showing that he had survived.
In addition, Mykhailo Filiponenko, the former head of a pro-Russian militia in Luhansk region, in eastern Ukraine, died last week in an assassination when his car was blown up, according to Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
“Ukraine appears to be intensifying attacks against Russian military, logistics and other high-profile assets in rear areas in occupied Ukraine and Russia,” the Institute for the Study of War, a research group based in Washington, reported on Sunday.
The assassinations come as the counteroffensive launched by the government in Kyiv in June has largely stalled, having failed to reach its core objectives. Ukraine has been unable to secure a decisive breach of Russian defenses in Zaporizhzhia region in the south of the country, or to retake substantial territory in the east.
Military analysts say that in the coming weeks progress will be harder because the rainy weather makes it more difficult to use mechanized military transport and because Ukraine’s army will need to rest and rotate its troops.