Russian missile kills at least 23 people in Ukraine, more than 100 injured

VINNYTSIA, Ukraine – Ukrainian authorities said Russian missiles hit a city in central Ukraine on Thursday, killing at least 23 people and injuring more than 100 others far from the front lines. The president of Ukraine accused Russia of deliberately targeting civilians in places of no military value.

Officials said Kalibr cruise missiles fired from Russian submarines in the Black Sea damaged a medical clinic, offices, shops and residential buildings in Vinnytsia, a city 268 kilometers from the capital Kyiv. (167 miles) to the southwest. Vinnytsia regional governor Serhiy Borzov said Ukrainian air defenses shot down two of the four incoming Russian missiles.

National Police Chief Ihor Klymenko said that so far only six bodies have been identified, while 39 people are still missing. Three children under the age of 10 were among the dead. Of the 66 people hospitalized, five are still in critical condition while 34 are seriously injured, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said.

“It is a building of a medical institution. When the first missile hit it, glass fell from my window,” said Vinnytsia resident Svitlana Kubas, 74 years old. And when the second wave hit, it was so jarring that my head was still buzzing. It tore through the outermost door, tearing it apart. it goes through holes. “

Borzov said 36 apartment buildings were damaged and residents were evacuated. In addition to hitting buildings, the rockets also set fire to 50 cars in a parking lot, officials said.

“These are pretty high-precision missiles. … They know where they hit,” Borzov told AP.

Russia denies targeting civilians.

“Russia only attacks military targets in Ukraine. The attack on Vinnytsia targeted an officer’s residence, where the Ukrainian armed forces were conducting preparations,” Evgeny Varganov, a member of the United Nations’ permanent mission to Russia, said in a statement. a speech in front of the room.

Among the buildings damaged in the strike was the Officers’ House, a Soviet-era concert hall.

Margarita Simonyan, head of the Russian state-controlled television network, said on her messaging app channel that military officials told her a building in Vinnytsia had been targeted because it was contains the “Nazis” of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy repeated his call for Russia to be declared a state sponsor of terrorism. The strike comes as government officials from around 40 countries meet in The Hague, Netherlands, to discuss coordinating the investigation and prosecution of potential war crimes in Ukraine.

“There is no country in the world with a terrorist threat like Russia,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. “No country in the world allows itself to use cruise missiles and rocket artillery every day to destroy cities and ordinary people’s lives.”

Zelenskyy said that among the dead was a 4-year-old girl named Liza, whose mother was seriously injured. A video of a girl in a skirt twirling around in a lavender field has been widely shared on social media.

“Today, our hearts are bleeding, and our eyes are filled with tears as our family of thousands has lost one of ours,” the Down Syndrome charity wrote. It said: “They were just on their way from a speech therapy class, and they happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time.”

Zelenskyy’s wife later posted that she met this “wonderful girl” while filming a Christmas video with a group of children, who were given oversized decorations to paint.

“The mischievous little girl then managed for half an hour to draw not only herself, her holiday dress, but all the other kids, me, the cameramen and the director… Look at her. alive,” wrote Olena Zelenska in a note accompanying the video.

Zelenskyy called for the creation of a mechanism to seize Russian assets around the world and use them to compensate victims of “Russian terrorism”.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denys Moosystemrsky echoed Zelenskyy, calling the missile attack a “war crime” intended to intimidate Ukrainians while the country’s forces entrenched in the east.

He said dozens of people had been detained for questioning on suspicion that Russian forces had received targeted assistance from someone on the ground.

The US Embassy in Kyiv issued a security alert late Thursday urging all remaining US citizens in Ukraine to leave immediately. The warning, apparently in response to the Vinnytsia attack, asserted that large gatherings and organized events “could be Russian military targets anywhere in Ukraine, including its western region.”

Vinnytsia is one of Ukraine’s largest cities, with a pre-war population of 370,000. Thousands of people from eastern Ukraine, where Russia’s offensive is focused, have fled there since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Kateryna Popova said she saw many injured people lying on the street after the rocket hit. Popova fled Kharkiv in March seeking safety in “quiet” Vinnytsia. But the missile attack changed all that.

“We did not expect this. Now we feel like we don’t have a home again,” she said.

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said the attack reflected previous attacks on residential areas that Moscow had carried out “to try to pressure Kyiv into making concessions.”

“Russia used similar tactics when attacking the Odesa, Kremenchuk, Chasiv Yar and other areas,” Zhdanov said. “The Kremlin wants to show that it will continue to use unconventional methods of war and kill civilians to defy Kyiv and the entire international community.”

Before the missile hit Vinnytsia, the presidential office reported the deaths of five civilians and eight others injured in Russian attacks over the past day. One person was injured when a rocket damaged several buildings in the southern city of Mykolaiv early Thursday. A rocket attack Wednesday killed at least five people in the city.

Russian forces also continued artillery and missile attacks in eastern Ukraine, mainly in the Donetsk region, after crossing into the adjacent Luhansk region. The two regions make up the Donbas, a predominantly Russian-speaking region with steel mills, mines and other industries that support the Ukrainian economy.

Meanwhile, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko urged residents to evacuate “as quickly as possible”.

“We are calling on civilians to leave the area, where there is a shortage of electricity, water and gas after the Russian shelling,” Kyrylenko said in a televised address. “The hostilities are intensifying, and people should stop risking their lives and leave the area.”

On the front, the Russian and Ukrainian militaries are looking to replenish their depleted drones to pinpoint enemy positions and guide artillery strikes.

Both sides are looking to purchase advanced, anti-jamming drones that could give a decisive advantage in battle. Ukrainian officials say the need for such technology is “huge” with crowdfunding efforts underway to raise the necessary cash.

In other developments:

– Officials planted by Russia in the Zaporizhzhia region, southeastern Ukraine, announced that they plan to hold a referendum in early September on the annexation of this region to Russia. Much of Zaporizhzhia is now under Russian control, as is most of the vicinity of Kherson. Kremlin-backed administrations in both regions have announced their intention to become part of Russia. Separatist leaders in the self-proclaimed “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk have also announced similar plans.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed into law a bill banning the dissemination of information about Russian companies and individuals that could face international sanctions. The law prohibits publishing on the internet or in the media – without written permission – any information about transactions made or planned by Russian individuals or legal entities engaged in the activity. foreign economic activity. It also suspended for three years the mandatory disclosure of key financial and administrative information by large Russian state corporations.


Maria Grazia Murru reports from Kyiv.


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