Amid the ongoing conflict between Kyiv and Moscow, at least 17 people were killed and several others were injured after three Russian missiles hit a busy downtown district of Chernihiv in Ukraine just before noon on Wednesday (local time), The New York Times reported, citing Ukrainian officials.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the death toll, reported by the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general, might increase. He blamed Ukraine’s lack of air defences for the loss of life. Ukraine’s prosecutor general said that 61 people had been reported wounded.
In a statement, Zelenskyy said, “This would not have happened if Ukraine had received enough air defence equipment and if the world’s determination to counter Russian terror was also sufficient,” according to The New York Times report.
He said, “Terrorists can destroy lives only when they first manage to intimidate those who are able to stop terror and protect life.” The district where the missiles hit is a crowded part of the city near a university and hospital.
Speaking over the phone, Oleksandr Lomako, the head of Chernihiv city government, said, “I personally saw dead people on the road killed by shrapnel and smashed cars covered in blood.” He said, “I looked through the dates of birth of the victims; so many young people there.”
He said that rescue workers were still carrying out search for victims in the rubble. He added, “This strike is just one more confirmation that Ukraine urgently needs air defense systems and ammunition,” The New York Times reported.
Chernihiv is located on the border with Russia and missiles are often seen overhead. Russia launches attacks at towns and cities across Ukraine. Lomako said, “They used to be downed,” adding, “But not any more, it seems.”
Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, said, “Among those killed as a result of Russian shelling is a 25-year-old police lieutenant.” Klymenko said, “The woman lived in a neighbouring house, was at home on sick leave. A fatal shrapnel wound.”
In the beginning of the war, Russian forces surrounded Chernihiv and it suffered massive destruction. However, people have returned to the region after the Russians were pushed out and Ukraine’s air defences improved, the report said.
As missiles flew into the skies, fierce fighting between Russia and Ukraine continued across the front. Russia has been pushing into the outskirts of Chasiv Yar, hoping to take control over the hilltop fortress and open the way to carry out sustained attacks on the last major cities, which are still under Ukrainian control. About 35 miles south of Chasiv Yar, Ukrainians are trying to hold new lines after being driven Avdiivka at the start of the year.
As US military assistance has largely been suspended since the start of the year, the Western-supplied air defence systems required to shoot down near-Russian missile attacks are nearly out of ammunition. It has increased the urgency of Ukraine’s efforts to hit Russian weapons at their source in Russia and occupy parts of Ukraine.
In an interview with PBS, Zelenskyy said that delays in US support have resulted in recent losses along the front, according to The New York Times report. He said, “I can tell you, frankly, that without this support, we will have no chance of winning.” (ANI)