Officials: Russian missiles kill at least 21 people in Ukraine


In this photo provided by Ukrainian Emergency Services, a firefighter walks past a building damaged by shelling, in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, Thursday, July 14, 2022. (Ukrainian Emergency Service via AP)


Russian missiles that hit a town in central Ukraine killed at least 21 people and injured around 100 on Thursday, Ukrainian authorities said. Ukraine’s president alleged that the attack deliberately targeted civilians in places of no military value.

Ukraine’s national police said three missiles hit an office building and damaged nearby residential buildings in Vinnytsia, located 268 kilometers (167 miles) southwest of the capital, Kyiv. Ukraine’s emergency service said 42 people were missing after the airstrike.

A Russian submarine in the Black Sea fired Kalibr cruise missiles at the city, and three children were among the dead, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

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 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.

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 the war began 20 weeks ago.

In addition to hitting buildings, the missiles ignited a fire that spread to 50 cars in a parking lot, officials said. Vinnytsia region governor Serhiy Borzov said Ukrainian air defense systems shot down four more missiles over the city.

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 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, 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 the Ukrainian military are seeking to replenish their depleted stocks of unmanned aerial vehicles to locate 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.


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Lynn A. Saleh