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Russian forces struck the Kharkiv region for a third time late on July 16, the governor said, as Russia reported an apparent retaliatory strike on towns in the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine.

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Oleh Synehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, told people to stay inside as an air alert was sounded after dark.

Synehubov said earlier on Telegram that one civilian was killed in the second attack, which Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said took place around 7 p.m. Synehubov said three men had been hospitalized with shrapnel wounds and one person was treated at the scene.

According to the Ukrainian military, the Russian military launched four S-300 missiles from the Belgorod region in Russia. Two of the missiles exploded in the air, while the other two struck a stadium and a road in the city.

The governor of the Belgorod region said that Ukrainian forces had shelled the town of Shebekino, about 5 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, with Grad missiles, killing a woman riding her bike.

Vyacheslav Gladkov said the Grad missiles had struck a market area, damaging a building and two cars. The woman died of injuries she received from shrapnel, Gladkov said on Telegram.

He said Ukrainian shelling of two other Belgorod settlements on July 16 caused no casualties but damaged three homes in Gorkovsky, and warehouses, a water tower, and other infrastructure in Ilek-Penkovka.

There was no comment on the attack from Ukraine.

Valeriy Shershen, spokesman for the Tavria defense forces, said earlier on July 16 that Ukrainian troops had advanced more than 1 kilometer along the front line in the Berdyansk direction. The spokesman emphasized that intensive fighting is ongoing there.

“Ukrainian units are entrenched at the borders, conduct aerial reconnaissance, demine the territories, and continue to perform fire missions,” he said on Ukrainian television.

Shershen added that Russian troops continue to storm the positions of Ukrainian forces near Avdiyivka and Maryinka. The Russian Army carried out 22 attacks during the day, most of them in the Maryinka area.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said Kyiv’s troops were fending off Russian attacks near the two cities in the Donetsk region. She also commented on fighting in the direction of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region, saying Russian forces have been attacking the two cities for two days in a row.

“We are on the defensive,” Malyar said. “There are fierce battles. The positions of both sides change dynamically several times a day.”

Malyar also said the two armies were pummeling one another around the city of Bakhmut.

Serhiy Cherevatiy, spokesman for the Ukrainian military in the eastern region, said Ukrainian forces “have firmly held the initiative” in the Bakhmut direction for several weeks.

“We move somewhat measuredly. We clear hundreds of meters every day, and kilometers every week,” Cherevatiy said on Ukrainian television.

The battles are a continuation of the counteroffensive Kyiv launched last month to retake Russian-occupied territory. The military’s claims of success could not be independently verified.

Russian troops again shelled the Kherson region, wounding two people who were in their yard, the regional military administration reported.

“In the village of Rozlyv, the Russian Army targeted private houses. A 54-year-old woman and a 49-year-old man were injured,” the report said, adding that they were treated at the scene.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with state television that Ukraine’s counteroffensive was “not succeeding” and that attempts to break through Russian defenses had failed.

Putin also criticized the U.S. provision of cluster munitions to Ukraine, saying “we reserve the right to take reciprocal action” if such weapons are used against Russian forces.

“The Russian Federation has a sufficient stock of various types of cluster munitions. So far this has not been done,” Putin said in the interview, claiming this was the case despite “the known shortage of ammunition in a certain period of time.”

Ukraine did not respond to Putin’s comments.

Kyiv and Western intelligence agencies have determined Moscow has used them since shortly after it launched its massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Cluster munitions have been banned by more than 100 nations globally.

The New York Times reported the previous day that Kyiv has changed its tactics in the counteroffensive to reduce the loss of advance Western-provided weaponry and is now focused on attacking with artillery and long-range missiles.

The Russian Defense Ministry on July 16 reported that it had “repelled” an attack using aerial and sea-based drones that apparently targeted the Russian Black Sea Fleet at the port of Sevastopol, in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian region of Crimea.

WATCH: Ukrainian soldiers never stop eyeing the sky in the battle to retake territory held by Russian forces. Ukrainian antiaircraft rockets can stop the incoming kamikaze drones but these often put the defending soldiers at risk.

RFE/RL cannot independently verify reports from regions of heavy fighting or that are under Russian occupation.

As the fighting intensified, a UN-brokered deal to export Ukrainian grain through Black Sea ports neared expiration.

The last ship approved to travel under the grain-exporting deal left dock on July 16. Since June 27, Russia has refused to register any new shipments under the agreement, which is set to expire on July 17.

On July 14, a UN spokesman said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was awaiting a response from Putin on a proposal to extend the deal. The proposal reportedly included an offer to reconnect a subsidiary of Russia’s Rosselkhozbank to the SWIFT international payments system.

Putin said on July 15 that he had not seen the proposal.

Russia has repeatedly threatened to cancel the agreement, which was last extended for two months on May 17, while pushing for an array of concessions.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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