Russian missile attack north of Kiev kills at least 14 people, Ukraine says

At least 14 people were killed and dozens more injured when three Russian missiles struck a busy neighborhood in central Chernihiv, north of Kiev, shortly before midday on Wednesday, Ukrainian officials said.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said the death toll, reported by Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office, could rise and attributed the loss of life to Ukraine's lack of air defenses. The attorney general said 61 people were injured.

“This would not have happened if Ukraine had received sufficient air defense equipment and if the world's determination to counter Russian terrorism had also been sufficient,” Zelensky said in a statement. “Terrorists can destroy lives only when they first succeed in intimidating those who are capable of stopping terrorism and protecting life.”

Also on Wednesday, explosions and fires were reported at a major Russian air base on the occupied Crimean peninsula, in what appeared to be a Ukrainian attack. Ukrainian authorities have not commented on the apparent attack, but Russian military bloggers affiliated with the Kremlin reported that Ukrainian missiles had hit points around the Dzhankoi air base in Crimea.

The extent of the damage was not immediately clear, but unverified videos posted on social media showed a series of explosions and raging fires at the base. Military analysts using open source satellite data from NASA said several fires were burning around the facility.

Dzhankoi is a hub for Russian roads and railways about 50 miles south of the Ukrainian mainland. It has been a frequent target of long-range attacks by the Ukrainian military, part of a broader campaign to isolate Russian troops fighting in southern Ukraine and weaken Russian logistics.

With American military assistance largely suspended since the start of the year while some Republicans in Congress resist providing more support to Ukraine, the Western-supplied air defense systems needed to shoot down the near-daily Russian missile bombardment are almost out of ammunition.

This has increased the urgency of Ukraine's efforts to target Russian weapons at the source both in occupied parts of Ukraine and within Russia itself.

Delays in American support have led to recent losses on the front, and Zelensky told PBS in an interview broadcast Tuesday that his nation's forces were struggling.

“I can tell you, frankly, that without this support we will have no chance of winning,” he said.

At the same time, the number of civilians is growing, and Ukrainian officials said what happened in Chernihiv on Wednesday was probably just a prelude to further bloodshed.

The neighborhood where the missiles hit is a crowded area of ​​the city, near a university and a hospital.

“I personally saw people dead on the road killed by shrapnel and destroyed cars covered in blood,” Oleksandr Lomako, head of the Chernihiv city government, said by phone. “I looked at the birth dates of the victims; so many young people there.”

Rescuers are still searching for victims in the rubble, he said. “This attack is just further confirmation that Ukraine urgently needs air defense systems and ammunition,” she added.

Chernihiv sits on the border with Russia and missiles are a frequent sight overhead as Russia launches attacks on towns and cities across Ukraine. “They used to get knocked down,” Mr. Lomako said. “But not anymore, apparently.”

The city was surrounded by Russian forces at the start of the war and suffered massive destruction. But since the Russians were driven out and Ukraine's air defenses improved, people have returned and tried to rebuild and move forward despite the looming threat.

“Among the people killed as a result of Russian shelling is a 25-year-old police lieutenant,” Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine's minister of internal affairs, said in a statement. “The woman lived in a nearby house, she was home sick. A fatal shrapnel wound.”

As missiles flew in the skies above, fierce fighting continued on the front, where Ukrainian troops struggled to hold their lines as Russia sought to exploit Ukraine's depleted arsenal. Over the past week, Russian forces have entered numerous villages, endangering Ukraine's defensive lines in several critical locations in the east.

Russia has pushed into the outskirts of Khasiv Yar, a key city in Ukraine's defense of the Donbas region, hoping to seize the hilltop fortress and pave the way for sustained attacks against the last major cities still under Ukrainian control: Kostiantynivka, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

About 35 miles south of Khasiv Yar, where the Ukrainians are trying to hold new lines after being driven from the town of Avdiivka earlier this year, the Russians have captured more villages as they set their sights on another Ukrainian stronghold in Pokrovsk .

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