Seven killed by Russian missiles in Ukraine’s second-largest city

23 May 2024, 16:24

A Russian army rocket launcher at an undisclosed location in Ukraine
Russia Ukraine. Picture: PA

At least 20 people were injured as S-300 missiles struck Kharkiv, it was reported.

At least seven civilians were killed after Russian missiles hit Ukraine’s second-largest city in the northeast of the country, officials said.

The attack comes as Kyiv’s army labours to hold off an intense cross-border offensive by the Kremlin’s larger and better-equipped forces.

At least 20 people were injured as S-300 missiles struck the city of Kharkiv, regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said. The sound of 15 explosions reverberated around the city of some one million people.

Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said the main hot spots in recent fighting had been Kharkiv and the neighbouring Donetsk region (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky called the attack “extremely cruel”.

He expressed renewed frustration at not getting enough air defence systems from the country’s western partners to prevent the barrages after more than two years of unrelenting war.

The city of Kharkiv, which is the capital of the region of the same name, lies about 12 miles (20km) from the Russian border.

Moscow’s troops have in recent weeks captured villages in the area as part of a broad push, and analysts say they may be trying to get within artillery range of the city.

In what is shaping up to be Ukraine’s biggest test since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainian forces are being pressed at several points along the roughly 600-mile (1,000km) front line that snakes from north to south along the eastern side of the country.

With Ukraine short of air defences and waiting for more western military support that recently started trickling in, its army has been pushed backwards in places while Russia has pounded its power grid and civilian areas. Kyiv endured further power outages on Thursday.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said the attacks underscored the country’s “urgent” need for more US-made Patriot systems to defend its skies.

Germany recently pledged one of the missile systems “but getting six more as soon as possible remains critical not only for Ukraine’s survival but for peace in Europe”, Mr Kuleba wrote on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Mr Zelensky said the main hot spots in recent fighting had been Kharkiv and the neighbouring Donetsk region, where in February Ukraine’s defenders withdrew from the stronghold of Avdiivka.

For the Kremlin, taking control of all of partially occupied Donetsk is a war priority.

At the same time, and in an apparent effort to stretch Ukraine’s depleted forces, Russian troops have made incursions in the northern Sumy region.

Nearly 1,500 people, including 200 children, have been evacuated from the towns of Bilopillia and Vorozhba in that region, according to regional governor Volodymyr Artiukh.

Ukrainian servicemen on the front line near the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk region
Ukrainian servicemen on the front line near the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk region (Iryna Rybakova via AP)

“The main focus (of the fighting) is on the entire border area,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Wednesday.

In Liubotyn, a small town about 6 miles (10km) west of Kharkiv city, Russian missiles struck the town’s centre, injuring eight civilians.

Ukraine has also trained its sights on Russian regions across the border.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Thursday that 35 Ukrainian rockets and three drones were shot down over the Belgorod region.

Regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said one drone had struck a house and exploded after being shot down, killing a woman.

By Press Association

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