VINNYTSIA, Ukraine — Cruise missiles fired by Russian strategic bombers hit a town in southeastern Ukraine on Friday night, killing at least three people and injuring 15, as air raid sirens went off in across the country, officials said.
The attack on Dnipro came a day after a Russian missile strike killed at least 23 people and injured more than 200 in Vinnytsia, a town southwest of Kyiv, the capital.
Russia’s military campaign has focused on Donbass in eastern Ukraine, but Russian forces have also pounded other parts of the country in a relentless push to wrest territory from Ukraine and soften the morale of its leaders, civilians and soldiers as war approaches. five month mark.
The Ukrainian Air Force said several Kh-101 cruise missiles fired by Tu-95MS strategic bombers over the Caspian Sea hit a factory around 10 p.m. in Dnipro, a major city on the Dnieper River. . Four incoming missiles were intercepted, he added. Videos posted on social media showed fiery explosions and towering plumes of black smoke.
Regional Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said the missiles hit the factory and nearby streets, killing at least three people and injuring 15.
One of the dead was a bus driver who had just finished work and was returning to the depot when a missile hit, said city council member Ivan Vasyuchkov. The emergency service said two vehicles were set on fire and 10 others were damaged. The missile strikes also set the factory on fire and blew out the windows of nearby apartment buildings.
Airstrikes were also reported in Kremenchuk, another town along the Dnieper River south of Kyiv.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged everyone to heed air raid sirens and take cover.
“The occupiers realize that we are gradually getting stronger and that the purpose of their terror is very simple: to put pressure on us, to pressure our society, to intimidate people, to cause maximum harm to Ukrainian cities, at least as long as that the Russian terrorists are still capable of doing it,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation.
The attack on Vinnytsia by cruise missiles launched from a Russian submarine was the latest to stir international outrage since Russian President Vladimir Putin began the invasion on February 24. Among the dead were three children: a 4-year-old girl and two boys, 7 and 8.
“She was looking for her daughter and Liza was already dead,” the mother’s aunt, Tetiana Dmytrysyna, told The Associated Press on Friday. “The mother was stripped of the most precious thing she had.”
A video of Liza performing earlier today and a photo of her lifeless body have gone viral around the world.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said Friday that Russian forces carried out more than 17,000 strikes against civilian targets during the war, killing thousands of combatants and civilians and driving millions from their homes. The invasion also impacted the global economy by raising prices and blocking exports of key Ukrainian and Russian products such as grain, fuel and fertilizers.
As fighting raged, Russia noted progress in talks on a possible deal to allow Ukraine to use the Black Sea to export millions of tonnes of grain that could help feed a world facing shortages and higher food prices.
Referring to talks in Istanbul this week between Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said a final document had been prepared and that other participants had “widely supported” the Russian proposals to help facilitate grain transport. shipments through Ukrainian ports.
He said work on the ‘Black Sea Initiative’ should be completed shortly to enable food shipments ‘while excluding the use of these supply chains for deliveries of arms and military equipment’. to Ukraine. He also said the plan is to “prevent any provocation”.
About 22 million tons of grain are blocked in Ukraine because of the war.
It was the most comprehensive Russian commentary yet on the grain talks, which mostly involved military officials. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Russia and Ukraine had taken “a crucial step” to secure desperately needed grain exports.
After Thursday’s strike in Vinnytsia, nearly 200 people sought medical attention and 80 remain hospitalized, the emergency service said. Zelenskyy said four people remain missing. Search teams looked at two sites on Friday – an office building with a medical center and a concert hall near an outdoor recreation area where mothers with children often hang out.
“Russia deliberately hit civilians and all those responsible for the crime must be held accountable,” said Vinnytsia Governor Serhiy Borzov, denouncing “Russia’s barbaric behavior which flouts international humanitarian law”.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said three missiles were used.
“There is no answer to the question why yesterday, and why in Vinnytsia,” Tymoshenko said. “We expect every second and minute that this could happen in any corner of Ukraine.”
After an initial silence on the missile strikes on Vinnytsia, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that its forces struck an officers’ club – the concert hall’s use in Soviet times.
Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said the Kalibr cruise missiles landed as “the military facility hosted a meeting between the Ukrainian Air Force command and representatives of suppliers of ‘foreign arms’. He said attendees were discussing potential supplies of warplanes and weapons.
“The meeting participants were eliminated in the strike,” Konashenkov said.
His claim could not be independently verified. Ukrainian authorities insisted the site had nothing to do with the military.
A Ukrainian singer reported that she was due to perform in the concert hall on Sunday and that her sound engineer was killed in the missile attack. The singer, Roxolana, said on social media that another member of her crew was seriously injured.
In the Donetsk region, the governor said eight civilians were killed and 13 injured on Friday when several towns were shelled by the Russians. The Donetsk region and the neighboring region of Luhansk – now almost completely controlled by Russian forces – constitute the wider Donbass.
“The situation in the Donetsk region is getting worse every day and civilians have to leave because the Russian army is using scorched earth tactics,” Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said. It appeared that the cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk were next in line for attacks by Russian forces.
Elsewhere, authorities in Mykolaiv said at least 10 explosions occurred in the southern city early Friday, accusing Russia of hitting universities. Mykolaiv Governor Vitaliy Kim released a video showing smoke rising above the strikes.
Russian news agency Tass, citing Russian-backed separatists, reported on Friday that two civilians had been killed and six injured after it said Ukrainian forces shelled a bus terminal in the city of Donetsk the day before.
In addition, a British aid worker held by separatists in Donetsk has died in captivity, a separatist official and a British charity involved in his case said on Friday.
Punitive political actions against the war continued, with Russian state media reporting on Friday that the Kremlin had banned 384 members of Japan’s parliament from entering Russia, citing retaliation for Japan’s sanctions against members of parliament. Russian.
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