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Battered by heavy shelling, peppered with gunfire and then…everything calms down.
Along Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea coast, Russian forces are playing a strange game, testing defenses, spilling blood and raising tensions, but failing to make any significant gains.
The small town of Mykolaiv, located on an inlet that would be a useful access point for the Russians to bring in troops and supplies, was picking up the pieces of a weekend of heavy fighting on Monday that saw Ukrainian equipment destroyed and targeted civilians.
Shattered glass and burned tanks littered the streets. The skyline was dominated by the unusual site of an elevated road bridge, the structure raised for the first time in years to impede any further ground incursions.
And in the air, along with the sound of intermittent air raid sirens, is the mystery of what the Russian attacks on Mykolaiv and other Black Sea cities are trying to accomplish.
They clearly managed to sow fear. Ukrainian troops were on edge following the fighting, wary of the threat from saboteurs. As CNN scoured the city, we saw people pulled from cars and thrown to the ground, suspected of being infiltrators.
The Ukrainian troops were trying to put on a good face. Guarding the wreckage of military vehicles, visibly hit by a ballistic missile with significant firepower, a soldier first claimed he was Russian before admitting he belonged to Ukrainian forces.
Fighting along this region of the Black Sea has been among the heaviest in Ukraine in recent days, with unconfirmed reports of Russian paratroopers on the ground, as well as highly visible explosions lighting up the horizon.
Yet in similar strikes in other cities, it’s almost the same picture. An intense Russian bombardment followed by a break that allowed the Ukrainian side to claim victory.
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