Grain magnate Oleksiy Vadaturskyy and his wife Raisa were killed in the attack, according to a statement by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Vadaturskyy was the founder of Mykolaiv-based Nibulon, one of the largest grain producing and exporting companies in Ukraine.
The businessman’s death was a “great loss to Mykolaiv… and all of Ukraine,” Zelensky said. “Over 50 years of his career, Oleksiy Vadaturskyy has made an invaluable contribution to the development of the region and the development of our country’s agricultural and shipbuilding industries.”
The mayor of Mykolaiv, Oleksandr Senkevych, said cluster munitions blew out windows and destroyed balconies. “Mykolaiv was shelled massively today. Probably the strongest of all time,” he said in a statement.
A CNN team on the ground heard the explosions caused by the strikes and saw fires breaking out during the shelling. Residents interviewed by CNN also said it was the heaviest shelling in the city since the start of the war.
In a speech commemorating Russia’s Naval Day in St. Petersburg, Putin made no mention of Russia’s war in Ukraine, but said the “current situation of his country requires very decisive actions”.
“We will provide firm protection by all means. The key here is the capabilities of the navy, which can respond at lightning speed to anyone who decides to infringe on our sovereignty and freedom,” Putin said.
Vadaturskyy and his wife were hiding in the basement of their home when they were killed in a direct hit that reduced parts of their mansion to rubble. It remains unclear whether he was deliberately attacked by the Russians.
A statement from Vadaturskyy’s company, Nibulon, said he was a “true hero and patriot” who had stayed in Mykolaiv to help the strategically important port during the Russian invasion.
“He has always believed in Ukraine and focused his efforts on the development and prosperity of Ukraine,” the statement said.
Neighbors expressed shock and anger at the attack.
“We don’t know what to do. We hate Russia,” said Maxim, who has lived in the area for nearly 20 years. “It’s unbelievable that it can destroy everything in one moment.”
Allegations of war crimes
Separately, at least three people have been killed and eight injured in fighting in eastern Ukraine, according to the Donetsk military-civilian government, which said villages in the region had been targeted by artillery, Russian Grad missiles and Uragan missiles.
“11 private residential buildings and a high-rise, a police station, a market, a canteen were damaged and three fields were burned,” the administration said.
The Ukrainian General Staff said Russian troops attacked the front lines in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
“Everything is being organised. Full support, full assistance – both logistics and payments,” he said in his overnight speech. “We just need a decision from the people themselves, who haven’t made it for themselves yet.”
British Ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons said the strike is part of a pattern of “the worst kind of human rights abuses” in her Twitter on Saturday. “Olenivka needs to be investigated. It appears to be part of an increasingly worrying pattern of the worst kind of human rights violations and potential war crimes committed with impunity in occupied eastern Ukraine,” the ambassador tweeted.
Zelensky said the attack was “a deliberate war crime by the Russians”.
Ukrainian intelligence said the attacks were carried out by the Russian mercenary group Wagner and were not coordinated with the Russian defense ministry. CNN cannot independently verify the allegations made by Ukrainian military intelligence.
Russia blames Ukraine for the attack.