Russian missiles kill at least 23 people in Ukraine and injure more than 100
VINNYTSIA, Ukraine (AP) — Russian missiles struck a town in central Ukraine on Thursday, killing at least 23 people and injuring more than 100 others, 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, a town 268 kilometers (167 miles) southwest of the capital, Kyiv. Vinnytsia region governor Serhiy Borzov said Ukrainian air defenses shot down two of the four Russian missiles that were launched.
National Police Chief Ihor Klymenko said only six bodies have been identified so far, while 39 people remain missing. Three children among the dead. Of the 65 people hospitalized, five remain in critical condition while 34 were seriously injured, Ukraine’s state emergency service said.
“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 that my head was still buzzing. through the holes.
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.
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” intended to intimidate Ukrainians as the country’s forces resist in the east.
The US Embassy in Kyiv issued a security alert late Thursday urging all US citizens remaining in Ukraine to leave immediately. The alert, which appeared to be a response to the Vinnytsia attack, claimed that large gatherings and organized events “could serve as Russian military targets anywhere in Ukraine, including its western regions.”
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 focused its offensive, have fled there since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Kateryna Popova said she saw many wounded lying in the street after the missiles were fired. Popova had 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.
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, he said.
Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said the attack mirrors previous ones on residential areas that Moscow launched “to try to pressure Kyiv into making concessions”.
“Russia used the same tactic when hitting 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. 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 the adjacent Luhansk region. The town of Lysychansk, the last major Ukrainian resistance stronghold in Luhansk, fell to Russian forces earlier this month.
Lugansk and Donetsk together form Donbass, a predominantly Russian-speaking region of steelworks, mines, and other industries that fueled Ukraine’s economy.
Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko meanwhile 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.
On the front, the Russian and Ukrainian soldiers are trying to reconstitute 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.
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 now 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 self-proclaimed legislative assembly. He said Moscow and the separatists must “create a single legal field” in health, education, public services and social protection.
— 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 large Russian public companies.
Maria Grazia Murru reported from Kyiv.
Follow AP’s coverage of the Russian-Ukrainian War at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
Maria Grazia Murru and Hanna Arhirova, Associated Press