Russian missiles kill at least 22 people in Ukraine and injure more than 100
VINNYTSIA, Ukraine (AP) — Russian missiles that struck a town in central Ukraine killed at least 22 people and injured more than 100 on Thursday, Ukrainian authorities said. Ukraine’s president alleged that the attack deliberately targeted civilians in places of no military value.
Officials said Kalibr cruise missiles fired from a Russian submarine in the Black Sea hit civilian buildings in Vinnytsia, 268 kilometers (167 miles) southwest of the capital, Kyiv. Vinnytsia region governor Serhiy Borzov said Ukrainian air defenses shot down two of the four missiles launched.
National Police Chief Ihor Klymenko said only six of the dead had been identified so far, while 39 people remained missing. Of the 52 people hospitalized, five remain in critical condition while 34 suffered serious injuries, regional health care department head Olha Zadarozhnia told The Associated Press. Three children are among the injured.
“There was a medical organization building. When the first rocket hit it, glass fell from my windows, said Svitlana Kubas, 74, a resident of Vinnytsia. “And when the second wave came, it was so deafening my head is still buzzing. He ripped the outermost door off, ripped it through the holes.
Russia has not officially confirmed the strike. But Margarita Simonyan, head of Russian state-controlled TV channel RT, said on her messaging app channel that military officials told her a building in Vinnytsia was being targeted because it housed “ Nazis » Ukrainians.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of intentionally launching missiles at civilians. The strike came as government officials from around 40 countries were meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, to discuss coordinating investigations and prosecutions of potential war crimes. committed in Ukraine.
“Every day Russia destroys the civilian population, kills Ukrainian children, directs missiles at civilian objects. Where there are no military (targets). What is it if not an open act of terrorism? Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky echoed Zelenskyy, calling the missile attack a “war crime” designed to intimidate Ukrainians as the country’s forces continue to hold out in the east.
Vinnytsia is one of the largest cities in Ukraine, with a pre-war population of 370,000. Thousands of people from eastern Ukraine, where Russia has concentrated its offensive, have fled there since the war began on February 24.
Kateryna Popova said she saw many wounded lying in the street after the missiles were fired. Popova said she fled Kharkiv in March in search of safety in the “quiet” Vinnytsia. But the missile attack changed all that.
“We did not expect this. Now we feel like we don’t have a home anymore,” she said.
In addition to hitting buildings, the missiles ignited a fire that spread to 50 cars in a parking lot, officials said.
“These are very high precision missiles… They knew where they were hitting,” Borzov told the AP.
Borzov said 36 homes were damaged and residents were evacuated while a 24-hour hotline was set up for information on injured or missing people. July 14 will be declared a day of mourning for the region, he said.
Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said he believed the attack mirrored previous attacks on residential areas Moscow had launched “to try to pressure Kyiv into making concessions”.
“Russia used the same tactic when it hit the Odessa region, Kremenchuk, Chasiv Yar and other areas,” Zhdanov said. “The Kremlin wants to show that it will continue to use unconventional methods of warfare and kill civilians in defiance of Kyiv and the entire international community.”
Before the missiles reached Vinnytsia, the president’s office reported the deaths of five civilians and the wounding of eight others in Russian attacks over the past day.
One person was injured when a missile damaged several buildings in the southern city of Mykolaiv early Thursday, Ukrainian authorities said. A missile attack on Wednesday killed at least five people in the city.
Russian forces also continued their artillery and missile attacks in eastern Ukraine, mainly in Donetsk province after overtaking neighboring Luhansk. The town of Lysychansk, the last major Ukrainian resistance stronghold in Lugansk, fell to Russian forces earlier this month.
Luhansk and Donetsk together form Donbass, a predominantly Russian-speaking region of steelworks, mines, and other industries.
Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko urged residents to evacuate as “quickly as possible”.
“We urge civilians to leave the area, where there is a lack of electricity, water and gas after the Russian bombardments,” Kyrylenko said in televised remarks. “The fighting is intensifying and people should stop risking their lives and leave the area.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Thursday that despite continued shelling in the Donbass region, Russian forces had not made any major territorial gains in recent days.
“The aging vehicles, weapons and tactics of the Soviet era used by Russian forces do not lend themselves to rapid recovery or momentum unless used in overwhelming numbers – which Russia is currently unable to put to good use,” the UK ministry said.
Russian forces and Ukrainian military seek to replenish their depleted stocks of unmanned aerial vehicles to spot enemy positions and guide artillery strikes.
Both sides are looking to procure advanced jamming-resistant drones that could provide a decisive advantage in combat. Ukrainian officials say the demand for such technology is “tremendous” with crowdfunding efforts underway to raise the necessary funds for purchases.
In other developments:
— Russian-installed officials in the Zaporizhzhia region of southeastern Ukraine have announced plans to hold a referendum in early September on the region’s integration into Russia. Large parts of Zaporizhzhia are under Russian control, as is most of neighboring Kherson. Kremlin-backed administrations in both regions have declared their intention to become part of Russia. Separatist leaders of the self-proclaimed “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk have also announced similar plans.
– Russia’s parliament speaker visited separatist-held areas in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, hours after Kremlin-installed officials in the country’s south announced they would hold a referendum on joining Russia. According to Russian news agencies, Vyacheslav Volodin spoke about the need to harmonize legislation between Russia and the self-proclaimed “People’s Republic of Luhansk” in his address to the territory’s legislative assembly. He said Moscow and the separatists must “create a single legal field” in health, education, public services and social protections. Volodin also thanked the people of Lukansk for “never betraying themselves, their faith, their language and their culture, for keeping alive the memory of their ancestors and the love for their native Russia”.
— Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed into law a bill banning the dissemination of information about Russian companies and individuals who may be subject to international sanctions. The law explicitly prohibits the publication on the Internet or in the media – without written permission – of any information about transactions carried out or planned by Russian natural or legal persons engaged in foreign economic activity. It also suspends for three years the mandatory publication of key financial and governance information by a number of large Russian state companies.
Maria Grazia Murru reported from Kyiv.
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