Thursday, May 19

After short respite, CNN teams across Ukraine hearing renewed strikes, though less severe than overnight blasts

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Smoke rises from a Ukrainian air defense base in the aftermath of an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, on February 24.

After a few hours of calm in the morning hours local time, CNN teams in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa and Mariupol have reported once again hearing sounds of strikes on Thursday, although these so far appear to be less severe than the explosions reported overnight.

An eyewitness who saw and heard the latest strike in the town of Brovary on the outskirts of Kyiv described the situation as “terrifying.”

The CNN team in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, has heard around five blasts that are some distance away.

In the southern city of Odessa, our team heard a strike that was close enough to the city center that it set off car alarms. Another blast was heard along the coast of Odessa after five to six distant explosions at dawn.

In Mariupol, in the southeast of the country, the CNN team heard a barrage of artillery that lasted nearly 20 seconds.

Firefighters work on a fire on a building after bombings on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv, Ukraine, on February 24.
Firefighters work on a fire on a building after bombings on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv, Ukraine, on February 24. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred to Russia’s military attack on Ukraine as a “special operation” Thursday, but dodged most questions on its nature or objectives in a call with foreign journalists. 

“I cannot give you information on the military, technological and other components of this operation,” Peskov said. “The only primary source here should be our military and defense departments.”

The spokesman added that occupation was not the objective, echoing President Vladimir Putin’s claims in a televised address earlier on Thursday.

“No one is talking about occupation, in this scenario that word is not applicable,” Peskov said. “This is a special operation. I do not think it’s necessary for me to explain anything here, because the president himself gave exhaustive explanations.”

In his speech, Putin said he had decided “to conduct a special military operation … to protect people who have been subjected to abuse and genocide by the Kyiv regime for eight years,” repeating a baseless claim about Ukraine’s Russian-separatist-backed Donbas region.

The invasion began soon afterwards with a series of missile attacks against locations near Kyiv, as well as the use of long-range artillery against the northeastern city of Kharkiv, near the Russian border.

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