Smoke rises after explosions were heard from the direction of a Russian military airbase.
The latest incidents followed huge blasts last week at an air base in Russian-annexed Crimea. In a new assessment, a Western official said that incident had rendered half of Russia's Black Sea naval aviation force useless in a stroke.
Russia's RIA and Tass news agencies, citing a local official in Crimea, said it appeared Russian anti-aircraft forces had been in action near the western Crimean port of Yevpatoriya on Friday night. Video posted by a Russian website showed what appeared to be a ground-to-air missile hitting a target. Reuters was unable immediately to confirm the video's veracity.
Tass cited a local official as saying Russian anti-aircraft forces knocked down six Ukrainian drones sent to attack the town of Nova Kakhovka, east of the city of Kherson. Ukraine says retaking Kherson is one of its main priorities. Separately, an official in Crimea said defences there had downed an unspecified number of drones over the city of Sevastopol.
Volunteers help residents evacuate the village of Mayskoye, Crimea, following the explosion. AFP
"The Ukrainian armed forces treated the Russians to a magical evening," said Seriy Khlan, a member of Kherson's regional council disbanded by Russian occupation forces.
The night before, multiple explosions had been reported in Crimea - which Moscow seized in 2014 - including near Sevastopol, headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, as well as at Kerch near a huge bridge to Russia.
Inside Russia, two villages had been evacuated after explosions at an ammunition dump in Belgorod province, more than 100 km (60 miles) from territory controlled by Ukrainian forces.
Kyiv has been withholding official comment on incidents in Crimea or inside Russia while hinting that it is behind them using long-range weapons or sabotage.
A Western official indicated on Friday that at least some of the incidents were Ukrainian attacks, saying Kyiv was consistently achieving "kinetic effects" deep behind Russia's lines.
This photo shows tank munition shells at the front line in the Donetsk region. AFP
Huge explosions on Aug. 9 at Russia's Saky air base on the Crimean coast had put more than half of the Black Sea Fleet's combat jets out of use, the official said, in what would be one of the costliest attacks of the war.
Russia has denied aircraft were damaged in what it called an accident, although satellite pictures showed at least eight burnt-out warplanes and several huge craters.
Moscow dismissed the head of the Black Sea Fleet this week.
Ukraine hopes its apparent new-found ability to hit Russian targets behind the front line can turn the tide in the conflict, disrupting supply lines Moscow needs to support its occupation.
Volunteers clear the rubble of a house destroyed as a result of the shelling in the city of Chernihiv. AFP
A senior US defense official said on Friday that US President Joe Biden's administration was preparing another security assistance package for Ukraine valued at $775 million and containing surveillance drones and for the first time mine-resistant vehicles.
Since last month, Ukraine has been fielding Western-supplied rockets to strike behind Russian lines. Some explosions reported in Crimea and Belgorod were beyond the range of ammunition Western countries have acknowledged sending so far.
A senior Ukrainian official said around half of incidents in Crimea were Ukrainian attacks of some kind, and half accidents caused by Russia's poor operations. He emphasised that attacks were carried out by saboteurs rather than long-range weapons, though he would not say whether Kyiv now had ATACMS, a longer range version of the US HIMARS rockets it began using in June.
The official, who declined to be named, said Ukraine had hoped its strikes would have a bigger impact in reducing Russian artillery power but Moscow was adapting.
Indignant over what it called Ukrainian strikes in Russian territory and following the stunning loss of its Black Sea flagship, where authorities said the bodies of more than 900 civilians were found outside the capital.
Zelensky has called for vigilance, saying Moscow could try "something particularly ugly" ahead of Wednesday, which marks Ukraine's Independence Day and also half a year since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Ukraine said Russia had killed civilians deliberately when it pounded the mall in Kremenchuk. Moscow said the mall was empty and it had struck a nearby arms depot.
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The US package would include High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers used in Ukraine's successful counter-offensive where it has recently forced Russian troops into retreat.
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