Deaths, blackouts as Russian missiles hit multiple Ukraine cities | Russia-Ukraine war News
Russia has fired a fresh barrage of rockets at targets across Ukraine, killing at least 12 people in the central eastern city of Dnipro and cutting power to the Kiev and Kharkiv regions, officials said.
The attacks on Saturday tore through a nine-story apartment block in Dnipro, reducing an entire section of the building to rubble and sending smoke into the sky. The deaths included that of a 15-year-old girl, according to officials.
About 64 others were also injured.
“Tragedy!” said Borys Filatov, mayor of the rocket-producing city on the Dnieper River.
“I went to the site. … We’re going to go through the wreckage all night.”
Footage from the scene showed firefighters extinguishing a blaze around the bodies of several cars in Dnipro. A large part of the apartment block was missing, while the exterior of the rest of the building was badly damaged.
Trapped residents were signaling their location under the debris with their mobile phone torches, according to Ukrainian media reports.
Regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said seven children were among the injured, the youngest three years old.
“The fate of 26 people is still unknown,” he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it is still unknown how many people are under the rubble.
“Unfortunately, the death toll is rising every hour,” he said in his late-night speech.
Besides Dnipro, other cities hit on Saturday included Odessa in the south, Kharkiv in the east, Lviv in the west and the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. Civilian infrastructure, including power sites, was once again damaged and power outages were reported.
Emergency shutdowns were applied to “most regions” of Ukraine on Saturday because of the raids, Energy Minister German Galushchenko said.
He warned that the next few days would be “difficult”.
Officials said the Kharkiv region was completely without power and that interruptions in electricity and water supplies to Lviv were also possible.
Russia has targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October, causing major power outages and cuts to central heating and running water.
Senior military commander Valeri Zaluzhny said Russia launched 33 cruise missiles overall on Saturday, of which 21 were shot down.
The UK promises tanks
Moldova, Ukraine’s southwestern neighbor, said it had found missile remnants on its territory after recent Russian raids.
“Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine directly affects Moldova again,” President Maia Sandu wrote on Twitter, posting photos of the ruins.
“We strongly condemn today’s intensified attacks.”
In his overnight speech, Zelenskyy called on the West to supply more weapons to prevent further deaths from what he described as “Russian terror”.
“What is needed for this? The type of weapons that our partners have in stock and that our fighters have been waiting for. The whole world knows what and how to stop those who are sowing death,” he said.
Saturday’s attack comes as Western powers consider sending heavy weaponry to Kiev and ahead of a meeting of Ukraine’s allies in Ramstein in Germany next Friday, where the governments will announce their latest pledges of military support.
The United Kingdom on Saturday became the first Western country to pledge heavy tanks to the war effort, with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying his country will send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Sunak’s office said the British prime minister believed a “long, static war only serves Russia’s interests”.
“Defense and security officials in the United Kingdom believe that a window has opened where Russia is standing because of supply problems and declining morale,” the statement said. “The prime minister is therefore encouraging allies to deploy their planned support for 2023 as soon as possible to have maximum impact.”
Saturday’s attacks came as Ukrainian and Russian forces battled for control of Soledar, a small salt-mining town in eastern Ukraine that for days has been the focus of a relentless Russian offensive.
The capture of Soledar, which had a pre-war population of 10,000, could improve the position of Russian forces as they push towards what has been their main objective since October – the nearby transport crossroads of Bakhmut.
Russia said on Friday that its forces had taken control of the city, but Ukraine has denied the claim.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting closely on Soledar, said there was no visible sign of a Ukrainian withdrawal from the city.
“Russis says it has taken full control of Soledar, but smoke rising from the strike sites, near-constant artillery blasts and heavy machine-gun fire suggest otherwise,” he said.
On the roads leading to Soledar, army medics waited at intervals to take the wounded to hospitals away from the front line, Stratford said. Ukrainian armored personnel carriers were seen ferrying troops toward the city, while the tree lines were peppered with artillery in defensive positions.
A soldier called for better weapons.
“It will be difficult for us to remove them,” he told Al Jazeera. “We will suffer great losses. They move in such large numbers that sometimes our old guns overheat as we try to shoot as many as we can.”
Turkey said on Saturday it was ready to push for local ceasefires in Ukraine and warned that neither Moscow nor Kiev had the military means to “win the war”.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign policy adviser Ibrahim Kalin admitted it looked unlikely the warring parties would be ready to reach a “comprehensive peace agreement” in the coming months.