VINNYTSIA, Ukraine –
Rescue teams with sniffer dogs combed the rubble of a central Ukrainian city on Friday looking for people still missing after a Russian missile strike the day before killed at least 23 people.
Meanwhile, Russian forces have struck elsewhere in a strenuous effort to wrest territory from Ukraine and try to soften the unshakable morale of its leaders, civilians and troops as the war nears five months.
Cruise missile attacks on Vinnytsia launched by a Russian submarine on Thursday were the latest incidents to claim civilian lives and stoke international outrage since President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion on February 24. The campaign has now focused on the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, but Russian forces also regularly fire on targets in many parts of the country.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said on Friday that Russian forces had carried out more than 17,000 attacks on civilian targets during the war, driving millions from their homes, killing thousands of fighters and civilians and hurting the world economy by increasing prices and hamper exports of key Ukrainian and Russian products. products such as food, fuel and fertilizers.
More than 73 people, including four children, remained hospitalized and 18 people were missing after Thursday’s attack, said Oleksandr Kutovyi, a spokesman for the emergency service in the Vinnytsia region. Search teams were examining two sites on Friday: an office building with a medical center inside and a concert hall near an outdoor recreation area and park, where mothers with children often wander.
Vinnytsia Governor Serhiy Borzov said only 10 people among the nearly two dozen dead had been identified so far.
“Russia deliberately hit civilians and all those responsible for the crime must be held accountable,” he said, denouncing Russia’s “barbaric behavior that tramples on international humanitarian law.”
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said three missiles were used.
“There is no answer to the question why yesterday and why in Vinnytsia,” Tymoshenko said. “We are waiting every second and minute that this can happen in any corner of Ukraine.”
After initial silence following the attacks in Vinnytsia, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that its forces had attacked an officers’ club, for which the concert hall was known in Soviet times.
Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the Kalibr cruise missiles landed when “that military facility arranged a meeting between the Ukrainian air force command and representatives of foreign arms suppliers.” He said the meeting attendees were discussing possible supplies of fighter jets and weapons, as well as work to repair Ukrainian planes.
“The meeting participants were eliminated in the strike,” Konashenkov said.
His claim could not be independently verified. The Ukrainian authorities insisted that the site had nothing to do with the army.
Overall, Ukraine’s presidential office said Friday morning that 26 civilians were killed and 190 others wounded by Russian shelling in the past 24 hours. That included three other victims in the Donetsk region, which together with neighboring Lugansk, almost entirely controlled by Russian forces, make up the broader Donbas region.
“The situation in the Donetsk region is getting worse every day and civilians must 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 Russian forces, but it was not entirely clear how soon such a push could begin in earnest.
Separately, Mykolayiv authorities said there were at least 10 explosions in the southern city overnight, accusing Russian fire of attacking universities. Vitaliy Kim, head of the Mykolaiv military administration, posted a video of smoke rising above the attacks on social media.
Separately, the Russian news agency Tass, citing Russian-backed separatists, reported on Friday that two civilians were killed and six others wounded after Ukrainian forces allegedly bombed a bus terminal in Donetsk city’s Voroshilovsky district. one day before.
Also on Friday, Daria Morozova, a human rights campaigner for the Moscow-backed separatist leadership in Donetsk, said a British “mercenary” died in captivity on Sunday. She said the man, whom she identified as Paul Urey, had died of chronic illness and stress.
“For our part, he was provided with the necessary medical assistance despite the serious crimes he committed,” he said.
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