Russian missiles hit Vinnytsia in central Ukraine on Thursday, killing at least 23 people, including three children, which President Volodymyr Zelensky called “an open act of terror”.
The midday attack on the city hundreds of kilometers from the front line and the invading Russian army came as EU officials convened in The Hague to discuss war crimes in Ukraine.
The remains of burned overturned cars surrounded by burning debris are seen in images released by distribution officials next to a business burned by flames with brown smoke billowing nearby. .
Zelensky said in a speech to European officials in The Hague: “There were eight rockets, two hit the city center. 20 people died, including three children. There were many people injured. love”.
Rescuers later updated the death toll to 23, saying the search for another 39 people continued.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “appalled” by the attack, while the EU described it as a “brutal act”. Both called for accountability.
And Zelensky led a period of silence before urging European and International Criminal Court officials to open a “special court” on the Russian invasion.
“I believe it is inevitable that the International Criminal Court will hold accountable those who commit crimes within its jurisdiction: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide. “
– War Crimes Court –
The ICC in The Hague has opened an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine just days after Moscow’s forces invaded and it has sent dozens of investigators to the country to gather evidence. .
Russia invaded on 24 February and the conflict has killed thousands, destroyed cities and forced millions to flee their homes.
“Every day, Russia kills civilians, kills Ukrainian children, carries out missile attacks on civilian facilities where there are no military targets. What is this, if not an overt act? of terrorism?” Zelensky said after the attack on Vinnytsia.
A Ukrainian military spokesman said its forces downed two missiles from a salvo of cruise missiles launched from a Russian submarine in the Black Sea and caused widespread damage in Vinnytsia.
Deadly attacks in central Ukraine have become relatively rare, but war has broken out around cities such as Mykolaiv in the south, which the president said was hit by an “attack.” big rocket”.
“Two schools, transportation infrastructure and a hotel were damaged,” the president said in a military update Thursday morning.
The skeletons inside of a building gutted by strikes can be seen in images released by local officials, with city workers clearing bricks and rubble after the attack. labour.
However, the heaviest fighting in Ukraine recently has focused on the eastern Donbas industrial region.
– ‘Victorious’ –
The Moscow-backed army there on Thursday said it was moving on to its next target, having taken control of the sister cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk two weeks ago.
“Siversk is within our operational control, which means that the enemy can be attacked by our targeted fire throughout the region,” said a pro-Moscow rebel official, Daniil Bezsonov, told by the firm. Russian state news agency TASS quoted as saying.
At a location in a Ukrainian trench along the eastern line, a 25-year-old soldier accompanied a Moryak guerrilla team working to fortify the defenses.
“We hide when they come in, we dig when it’s quiet,” another soldier nearby told AFP journalists.
A colleague in their trenches dismissed the idea that Ukrainian and Russian forces could reach a truce, explaining that their goal was “total victory”.
– High-stakes bead talks –
Several rounds of talks aimed at ending fighting at the start of the conflict have failed, but delegations from Kyiv and Moscow met in Istanbul this week to discuss lifting a ban on Ukraine’s grain exports.
The meeting, attended by UN and Turkish officials, ended after more than three hours with an agreement to meet again in Turkey next week.
Zelensky said “the whole world” is looking forward to negotiations to finalize a deal.
The conflict has pushed grain prices up and Europe is saddled with sky-high energy bills stemming from sanctions on Russia and Moscow’s move to limit the flow of gas to Europe.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday that Russia’s war in Ukraine poses the “biggest challenge” to the global economy, as G20 ministers prepare to begin talks in Indonesia.
The European Commission has meanwhile cut its growth forecast for the eurozone, saying the fallout from the war in Ukraine is continuing to destabilize the economy because of record-high inflation.
Following concerns about weapons being smuggled out of Ukraine to arm criminal gangs in Europe, the President of Ukraine called on lawmakers to set up an oversight committee to monitor weapons received. from Western allies.
Ukraine’s presidential head Andriy Yermak on Thursday said all Western-supplied weapons were “registered and sent to the front” but such a commission would make the process “as transparent as possible”. “.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)