The mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv claimed Monday that Russian forces are retreating following what he says was an attempted attack on the city’s airport.
Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the Russian military attempted “to attack the airport, and our troops fought with them and they fell back to the border… for 20-25 km.”
Earlier Monday in a video posted to Telegram, the regional administrator for the Mykolaiv area, Vitali Kim, also claimed the Russians were retreating after they lost two tanks in a "tank battle" at the airport.
Intense fighting has broken out in Mykolaiv and video which has been authenticated by CNN shows explosions from military strikes and large plumes of smoke around the Ukrainian city located about 250 miles south of Kyiv.
Senkevych said that the city had faced a “rocket attack… about 60 rockets fell on our city, and 61 buildings were… destroyed, and about 40 rockets fell down unexploded. So starting from the morning, we also got an attack by heavy weapons like tanks and heavy weapon machines around the city.”
The mayor went on to claim that the Russian forces were relying heavily on cluster bombs, which are banned under the Geneva convention. “90% of the rockets sent to our city, that launched to our city, were cluster bombs,” he said.
“They are illegal, but we have plenty of photos and evidence that they are using illegal weapons now, in the 21st century.”
Despite the assaults, Senkevych said that Ukrainian forces are “motivated, they want to defend our motherland, our city, and they are really motivated and want to fight to the death.” He said that the city had “a good amount of people and heavy machines.”
“We're ready to defend our city, and also still we have a corridor to get the support, food etc from Odessa region. This is the only way left for us and we are getting help from our different partners, sister cities and cities from western Ukraine. We’re in need right now of helmets and vests for our territorial defense troops and we are collecting food for long term storage,” the mayor said.
He told Amanpour that Russian soldiers were lying when captured by Ukrainian forces. “Every time we catch them alive, they say that they didn't know where they go, they were on training, they crossed the border, and then they found out in Mykolaiv that they were far from Russia. But it's a lie. Because from Mykolaiv to Crimea is about 500km.”
“They should know where they are, they are gathering near Kherson, and they spread around our city and they are trying to attack our city,” he said.