The attack shattered the sense of normalcy that has returned to life in Kyiv since Russian forces abandoned attempts to capture the city in the first weeks of the war, in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance.

More than 10 Russian missiles also hit the Chernihiv region northeast of Kyiv, regional Governor Vyacheslav Chausov told Ukrainian TV. Like Kyiv, Chernihiv had not been targeted for weeks.

"This was Russia offering greetings on Ukraine’s Day of State Sovereignty," he said, adding there were concerns about a "second phase of ground operations by the enemy".

The North district command of the Ukrainian armed forces said more than 20 missiles had been fired at Chernihiv region bordering Russia from a base in Belarus - Russia's ally.

In the south, Ukraine said its planes struck five Russian strongholds around the city of Kherson and another nearby city, where it is focusing its biggest counter-offensive since Russia's invasion began on 24 February.

The Kherson region, which borders Russian-annexed Crimea, fell to Russian forces soon after they began what Moscow calls "a special military operation". Ukraine describes Russia's actions as an imperial-style war of conquest.

Ukraine has used Western-supplied long-range missile systems to badly damage three bridges across the River Dnipro in recent weeks, making it harder for Russia to supply its forces on the western bank.

British intelligence said the strategy was starting to isolate Russian forces in the Kherson region.

"Russia's 49th Army, stationed on the west bank of the Dnipro River, now looks highly vulnerable," it said in an intelligence bulletin.

Kherson city was now virtually cut off from the other territories occupied by Russia.

"Its loss would severely undermine Russia's attempts to paint the occupation as a success," British intelligence said.

Ukraine says it has retaken some small settlements on the region's northern edge in recent weeks as it tries to push Russian forces back.

The Russian defence ministry said its planes had attacked a Ukrainian infantry brigade in the far north of Kherson region and killed more than 130 of its soldiers in the last 24 hours.

Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the Russian-appointed military-civilian administration running the Kherson region, has also dismissed Western and Ukrainian assessments of the battlefield situation.

Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports.

RIA reported on Thursday that Russian security services had uncovered a group of Ukrainian agents in Kherson who had been paid to pass on the map coordinates of Russian forces there to Ukraine for targeting with artillery.

Two people in the southern seaside town of Koblevo were blown up by a sea mine while swimming despite a ban, Mykolaiv regional governor Vitaliy Kim said on Telegram.

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