Russia said its strikes on the central Ukrainian town of Vinnytsia targeted a Ukrainian military meeting, as rescuers on the ground continued to search for survivors of the attack that killed at least 23 civilians.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday it was targeting a meeting between Ukrainian air force officials and foreign arms suppliers in Vinnytsia’s Officers’ Room, a building that residents say is used for cultural and social events.
The meeting focused on the “transfer of the next batch of aircraft and destructive weapons to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as well as the organization of the repair of the Ukrainian air fleet”, the Russian Defense Ministry said. said in a statement on Telegram.
“As a result of the strike, the meeting participants were destroyed,” the statement added.
Kyiv accuses Moscow of deliberately targeting civilians, with an image showing a 4-year-old girl in a stroller among the dead.
“Every day Russia destroys the civilian population, kills Ukrainian children and directs rockets at civilian targets where there is nothing military. What is it if not an open act of terrorism? It’s a killer state. A terrorist state,” Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky said in his late night speech on Thursday.
The attack was also condemned by International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan, who called for a coordinated effort to bring perpetrators of war crimes to justice.
“The simple truth is that as we speak, children, women and men, young and old, are living in terror,” ICC prosecutor said at opening of conference on responsibility of Ukraine in The Hague.
The attack on Vinnytsia, a city of 370,000 before the February invasion, follows a wave of Russian missile attacks on Ukrainian cities in recent weeks.
Russia has repeatedly stated that these attacks were directed against military, not civilian targets.