Kyiv said Tuesday it had launched artillery barrages that destroyed a Russian arms depot and carried out a "special operation" to free military captives in the Moscow-controlled Kherson region.
The bombardments in the south came as Washington and the EU announced nearly USD3 billion combined for Ukraine, and Turkey said delegations from Moscow and Kyiv would meet in Istanbul Wednesday to discuss restarting stalled grain deliveries across the Black Sea.
Ukrainian military officials said the strikes had destroyed artillery, armoured vehicles "and a warehouse with ammunition" in the town of Nova Kakhovka.
Russian-backed authorities accused Ukraine, however, of damaging civilian infrastructure and killing at least seven people, a toll that could not be independently verified.
"Warehouses were hit, as were shops, a pharmacy, petrol stations and even a church," the head of the city's Moscow-backed administration, Vladimir Leontiev, said on social media.
Freed five captives
Ukrainian military intelligence said separately its forces had freed five captives in a "special operation" in Kherson, including a military serviceman and former police officer, without specifying when.
The Ukrainian army has for several weeks been waging a counter-offensive to recapture Kherson, which was taken by Russian troops early in the invasion of Ukraine.
The deputy head of the pro-Russian authorities in Kherson, Ekaterina Gubareva, said Ukraine had used long-range, precision artillery systems supplied by the United States in the strikes in Nova Kakhovka.
Western financial aid
Military analysts are crediting newly arrived systems from the West — including HIMARS from the United States — with attacks deeper into Russian-controlled territory across the front line.
EU member states, which have been supplying Ukraine with military support, on Tuesday approved one billion euros (USD1 billion) in financial help for Kyiv, billing it as the first instalment of a promised nine-billion-euro rescue package agreed in May.
The United States separately announced USD1.7 billion for Ukraine to help fund recovery.
"This aid will help Ukraine's democratic government provide essential services for the people of Ukraine," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said of the funds that are part of a USD7.5 billion aid package signed by President Joe Biden in May.
Bombed medical facilities
Moscow was striking back across Ukraine, with officials in the southern city of Mykolaiv saying Russian forces had bombed two medical facilities and homes, injuring 12 people.
Five people were injured in Russian shelling on Ukraine's second city Kharkiv, said regional governor Oleg Synegubov, after strikes the previous day left seven dead across that region.
But the heaviest fighting in recent weeks has centred on the Donbas where Moscow's forces have slowly advanced under fierce resistance since failing to capture Kyiv after the February 24 invasion.
Ukrainian emergency services said the death toll had risen to 45, two days after Russian bombardment flattened a residential building in the eastern town of Chasiv Yar, in the Donetsk region of the Donbas.
In Bakhmut — one of the few remaining cities under Ukrainian control in Donbas — AFP journalists could hear nearby artillery fire.
Upcoming grain talks
"The front is getting closer," said municipal official, Dmytro Podkuyidko, estimating that more than one-third of the town's population of 73,000 have fled.
"If it gets worse, I'll end up leaving too," Podkuyidko said.
Turkey announced meanwhile that Russian and Ukrainian delegations had agreed to meet in Istanbul Wednesday for talks to break an impasse on allowing Ukrainian grain to leave its southern ports which are mined and blocked by Russian warships.
The four-way meeting with Turkish officials and the United Nations comes as food prices soar globally due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"Unblocking Ukrainian ports is one of the key components of global food security," Ukrainian presidential aide Andryi Yermak said on Telegram.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin for the first time since the invasion at talks hosted by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran next Tuesday.
The talks are due to focus on the situation in war-ravaged Syria, but the Kremlin said Putin and Erdogan will hold a separate meeting that is almost certain to focus heavily on Ukraine.
The Kremlin has been working to consolidate its hold over territories it controls like Kherson, both militarily and bureaucratically since the beginning of the conflict.
After Putin on Monday passed a decree fast-tracking Russian passports for all Ukrainians, Ukraine's breakaway Donetsk People's Republic on Tuesday unveiled its "embassy" in central Moscow.
Top Russian officials did not attend the ceremony amid a beefed-up police presence.