Russian missiles kill at least 23 people in Ukraine and injure more than 100


In this photo provided by the Ukrainian emergency services, firefighters work to extinguish a fire in a building damaged by shelling, in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, Thursday, July 14, 2022. Ukrainian Emergency Service via AP

VINNYTSIA, Ukraine (AP) — Russian missiles struck a town in central Ukraine on Thursday, killing at least 23 people and wounding more than 100 others far from the front lines, Ukrainian authorities said. Ukraine’s president has accused Russia of deliberately targeting civilians in places of no military value.

Officials said Kalibr cruise missiles fired from a Russian ship in the Black Sea damaged a medical clinic, offices, shops and residential buildings in Vinnytsia, a town 268 kilometers (167 miles) southwest from the capital, Kyiv. Vinnytsia region governor Serhiy Borzov said Ukrainian air defenses shot down two of the four incoming Russian missiles.

National Police Chief Ihor Klymenko said only six bodies had been identified so far, while 39 people were still missing. Three children under 10 among the dead. Of the 66 people hospitalized, five remained in critical condition while 34 were seriously injured, Ukraine’s state emergency service said.

“It 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. He ripped off the outermost door, ripped it through the holes.

Borzov said 36 apartment buildings were damaged and residents were evacuated. 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 denied targeting civilians.

“Russia only hits military targets in Ukraine. The strike on Vinnytsia targeted an officers’ residence, where the preparations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were underway,” Evgeny Varganov, a member of Russia’s permanent mission to the UN, said in a speech to the chamber.

Among the buildings damaged in the strike was the Officers’ Room, a Soviet-era concert hall.

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 reiterated his call for Russia to be declared a state sponsor of terrorism. 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.

“No other country in the world poses such a terrorist threat as Russia,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. “No other country in the world allows itself every day to use cruise missiles and artillery rockets to destroy cities and ordinary human life.”

Zelenskyy said among those killed was a 4-year-old girl named Liza, whose mother was seriously injured. A video of the little girl, twirling around in a lavender dress in a lavender field, has been widely shared on social media.

“Today our hearts are bleeding and our eyes are full of tears because our family of many thousands lost one of our own,” wrote the charity Down Syndrome. He said: “They had just come back from a speech therapy class, and they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Zelenskyy’s wife later posted that she met this “wonderful girl” while filming a Christmas video with a group of children, who were given oversized ornaments to paint.

“The mischievous little girl then managed in half an hour to paint not only herself, her holiday dress, but also all the other children, me, the cameramen and the director… Look at her alive, if please,” Olena Zelenska wrote in a note accompanying the video.

Zelenskyy called for the creation of a mechanism to confiscate Russian assets around the world and use them to compensate victims of “Russian terror”.

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.

He said several dozen people had been detained for questioning on suspicion that Russian forces had received targeted assistance from someone on the ground.

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.

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 it hit 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 the Donetsk region after overtaking the adjacent Luhansk region. The two regions form the Donbass, a predominantly Russian-speaking area of ​​steelworks, mines and other industries that fueled Ukraine’s economy.

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.

On the front lines, Russian and Ukrainian militaries 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.

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.

— 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.


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