Dnipro, Ukraine (AFP) – The deadliest attack in the Ukrainian war on civilians at a site since last spring has reached 45 in an apartment building blown up by a Russian missile in the southeastern city of Dnipro, officials said Tuesday.
President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on the messaging app Telegram that those killed in the attack on Saturday noon included six children, and 79 people were injured. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said the death toll included 24 people who were initially registered as missing in the multi-storey building, which housed about 1,700 people.
Dnipro City Council said emergency crews removed about 9 metric tons (9.9 tons) of rubble during an ongoing search and rescue operation. It added that about 400 people lost their homes, 72 apartments were completely destroyed, and 236 others were damaged beyond repair.
People gathered at the site on Tuesday to lay flowers, light candles and bring in plush toys. For the third day in a row, Dnipro resident Oleksandr Pohorilov came to mourn.
“It’s like coming to the cemetery for your family. It’s a memory, to say a proper goodbye. To remain a human being after all,” he explains as the intense smell of burning wafts from the building’s ruins.
Volunteers helped Nadia Yaroshenko’s son escape from their third-floor apartment on a makeshift staircase, but their white cat Belish refused to leave. Still in his favorite spot at the now-burnt-out window, Yaroshenko said, desperately trying to see him from the yard with a flashlight.
We can’t get to the apartment even with lifeguards because the apartment is in an emergency and dangerous condition. “The walls there can come down every minute,” she said.
It was the last lethal Russian strike on a civilian target in almost 11 months r aroused anger. It also led to the abrupt resignation on Tuesday of a Ukrainian presidential adviser who said the Russian missile exploded and fell after being shot down by a Ukrainian air defense system, a version that would shift some of the blame from Kremlin forces.
Oleksey Aristovich’s comments in an interview on Saturday infuriated him. Resigning, he said his remarks were “fundamentally wrong”. Ukraine’s Air Force has stressed that the country’s military does not have a system that can shoot down Russian KH-22 supersonic missiles, the type that hit the apartment building.
Zelensky vowed to “ensure that all Russian murderers, everyone who gives and carries out orders regarding missile terrorism against our people, face legal sentences. And to make sure that they serve their sentences.”
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that a barrage of long-range missiles over the weekend, the first in two weeks, had targeted Ukraine’s power grid.
The Kh-22 was designed during the Soviet era to strike enemy ships. It can also be used against ground targets, but with much less accuracy. Russia is increasingly using older weapons, including repurposed ones, to attack targets in Ukraine in what could be a sign of depletion of Russian stockpiles of modern precision weapons, observers said. The UK Ministry noted that the Kh-22 is “remarkably inaccurate when used against ground targets because its radar guidance system is poor at distinguishing targets in urban areas”, suggesting that it may have been a factor in the deaths in Dnipro.
It said similar missiles were used in other incidents that caused a large number of civilian casualties, including a raid on a shopping center in the city of Kremenchug in central Ukraine in June. which officials said killed more than 20 people.
The deadliest attack on civilians before Saturday was the April 9 attack on a train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk that left at least 52 dead, he said. Associated Press – Frontline War Crimes Monitor The project.
In Moscow, a makeshift memorial to the victims of the Dnipro attack has appeared in front of an apartment building, an unusual feat in Russia, where a hint of criticism of the government’s “military special operation” in Ukraine is often suppressed. Amidst the snow, flowers and stuffed animals were placed at the monument to prominent Ukrainian writer Lesya Ukrainka, along with a picture of the destroyed building and a sign reading in Russian: “Dnipro. 14.01.2023.”
The attacks on civilians have helped bolster international support for Ukraine as it struggles to fend off an invasion by the Kremlin. Winter has slowed the fighting, but military analysts say a new push from both sides is likely once the weather improves.
Underscoring Russia’s growing military needs, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that the country’s military would increase the number of troops from 1.15 million to 1.5 million in the coming years.
As part of the reinforcements, the army will form army corps in the northwestern region of Karelia, near Finland, as well as three new motorized infantry and two airborne divisions. The army will also reinforce seven mechanized infantry brigades to be divided into divisions.
On Ukraine’s side, a US military officer, General Mark Milley, traveled to the Ukraine-Poland border. On Tuesday, he will meet his Ukrainian counterpart for the first time. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met General Valery Zalogny, in southeastern Poland. On Monday, Milley visited Ukrainian soldiers training at a military base in Germany under the command of American commanders.
Aid is also on the way from the Netherlands. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday in Washington that his country plans to “join” efforts by the United States and Germany to train and arm Ukraine with advanced Patriot missile defense systems.
It remains unclear whether the Dutch will eventually send the Patriot systems, although Zelensky said in his Tuesday night address that the Netherlands had agreed to send a battery of equipment to Ukraine. “So, now there are three guaranteed batteries. But this is only the beginning. We are working on new solutions to strengthen our air defense,” Zelensky said.
Ukrainian forces are at Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma to learn how to operate and maintain the Patriot system, the most advanced surface-to-air missile system the West has pledged to Ukraine to help fend off Russian air strikes.
Ukraine’s first lady was doing her part on Tuesday to help. She lobbied world leaders and corporate CEOs at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum In Switzerland to exert its influence against the Russian invasion, she said it leaves children dying and the world food insecure.
As the first anniversary of the war approaches, Olena Zelenska said parents in Ukraine weep as they watch doctors try to save their children, farmers fear returning to their minefields and “we cannot allow a new Chernobyl,” referring to the 1986 nuclear power plant disaster.
“What you all have in common is that you are really influential,” Zelenska told the audience. “But there is something that separates you, that not all of you use this effect, or sometimes use it in a way that separates you even more.”
Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations nuclear agency is visiting several of Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants this week to oversee the establishment of a permanent presence of inspectors at each to oversee operations and ensure safety.
The missions “will make a very real difference by supporting Ukrainian operators and regulators in fulfilling their national responsibility to ensure nuclear safety and security,” Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Tuesday.
Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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