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Russia hits Ukraine with deadly hypersonic missile strike as Kyiv claims local women spying for Moscow

Ukraine says 7 killed in Russian strikes
Ukraine says 7 killed in Russian strikes as “local women” spy network busted 02:14

Odesa, Ukraine — About 30 miles from the front line in eastern Ukraine, two Russian hypersonic missiles damaged an apartment building and a hotel popular with international journalists covering the war. Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the regional military administration in the Donetsk region, said seven people were killed in the Monday evening strike with 81 more wounded, including two children.

Almost half of those wounded in the attack were Ukrainian fire and rescue workers, as the second missile struck about 40 minutes after the first. Emergency services rushed to the site of the first explosion, not knowing that a second missile was about to hit. 

Aftermath of a Russian missile attack in Pokrovsk
Rescuers work at the site of a building destroyed during in a Russian missile strike in Pokrovsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, August 8, 2023. VIACHESLAV RATYNSKYI/REUTERS

Russia claimed it had struck a Ukrainian army command post in Pokrovsk, but Ukrainian officials accused Vladimir Putin's forces of deliberately targeting first responders.

"All of (the police) were there because they were needed, putting their efforts into rescuing people after the first strike," Ivan Vyhivskyi, Ukraine's National Police chief, said according to The Associated Press. "They knew that under the rubble were the injured — they needed to react, to dig, to retrieve, to save, and the enemy deliberately struck the second time."

Stunned and staring at an apartment building with its walls crumbling right after the strike, residents of the town of Pokrovsk quickly turned into rescuers, scrambling to help the wounded who lay sprawled out on the ground.

"The flames filled my eyes," said Kateryna, a 58-year-old local woman who was wounded in the attack. "I fell on the floor… there's shrapnel in my neck."

Lydia, her 75-year-old neighbor, said a window fell onto her, leaving her back, knee and legs cut up.

Aftermath of a Russian missile attack in Pokrovsk
Lydia, 75, a local resident, sits in her destroyed flat, at an apartment building destroyed during a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Pokrovsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, August 8, 2023. VIACHESLAV RATYNSKYI/REUTERS

Part of the local hotel Druzhba — which means "friendship" — was also smashed. It has been used by many journalists covering this war, including our own CBS News team who were there in June. They had to take shelter in the hotel basement when a missile exploded outside.

"Russia is trying to leave only broken and scorched stones," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. "We have to stop Russian terror."

Local woman allegedly spying for Russia

That terror, according to Ukraine's counterintelligence services, included a sleeper cell of Russian agents within the local population.

Ukraine's SBU Counterintelligence agency said Tuesday that it had arrested three more Ukrainian women from the Pokrovsk district who were allegedly part of a covert network of Russian agents transmitting the movements of Ukrainian combat aircraft, personnel and military vehicles to the enemy.

An agent of Ukraine's SBU Counterintelligence agency is seen with a Ukrainian woman from the eastern Pokrovsk district who was arrested as part of an alleged network of Russian informants, according to a statement by the SBU published on August 8, 2023. Handout/SBU Counterintelligence

The women "walked around the area and secretly took photographs of Ukrainian objects," the SBU alleged.

The claims came just a day after the spy agency said another Ukrainian woman had been detained and accused of gathering intelligence about a July visit by Zelenskyy to Mykolaiv, a city near the southeast front line, for an alleged assassination attempt on the president and a "massive airstrike" on the region.

The SBU's Tuesday claims, at least geographically, make sense: The eastern Donetsk region borders Russia, and the further east you go, the more of a historical affinity there is among the local population for Moscow.

Ukraine says woman held in plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelenskyy 02:17

"The peculiarity of the enemy group was that it consisted exclusively of local women who supported the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine," the SBU said in a statement revealing the arrests, alleging that the women worked "simultaneously" for Russia's FSB spy agency and the Wagner Group mercenary army.

Ukraine's SBU claimed the women arrested this week were in "standby mode," waiting since before the full-scale invasion was even launched in February 2022, for orders from Moscow.

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