Russia has hit cities across Ukraine with a sustained missile barrage, causing a nine-storey residential building in the central city of Dnipro to partially collapse.
The number of civilians killed and wounded in the strike on the industrial city of more than 1 million people was not immediately clear. As rescuers sought survivors in the building’s rubble the region’s governor Valentyn Reznichenko said five people had been confirmed killed and 39 injured, including six children.
Dozens of missile strikes were reported on Saturday in cities throughout Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east, as well as the regions of Odesa in the south and Lviv in the far west.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration, said 28 residential buildings in the Kyiv region were damaged but there were no casualties.
German Galushchenko, Ukraine’s energy minister, said the electricity infrastructure had been damaged in six provinces, triggering fresh power outages.
Russia began to target Ukraine’s power infrastructure in the fall after its invading forces were pushed out of large parts of the country’s eastern and southern regions and has resulted in rolling electricity and heating blackouts.
Andriy Ermak, Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, wrote on Twitter: “Dnipro. A residential building hit. The Russians continue to fight civilians, taking away Ukrainian people’s lives and future.”
“Russia is a terrorist state,” Yermak added.
In a social media post Showing rescue workers at the scene, Zelenskyy said: “Eternal memory to all those whose lives were taken by Russian terror!”
Ukrainian officials said on Saturday that fighting for the eastern town of Soledar continued, contradicting Russian claims that their forces had captured it in recent days.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, urged Ukraine’s allies to deepen sanctions on Russia and provide more modern Nato-grade weaponry.
“Each barrage of missiles further exhausts Russian stocks. However, they are still able to produce new ones. We can and must kill their missile and drone industry with a mass sanctions strike!” Kuleba tweeted.
Ukraine’s air force command said 25 of 38 Russian missiles fired on Saturday were intercepted.
Ukraine’s air defense systems have intercepted the majority of incoming Russian missiles and kamikaze drones in recent months, including during massive barrages that included 80 or more missiles fired in a single day.
But Ukraine has pleaded for the US and European countries to provide modern air defenses as its Soviet-era S300 and Buk surface-to-air missile stocks are rapidly depleting.
Kyiv has recently received some Nasam systems from the US and Norway, as well as one Iris-T unit from Germany. The US announced late last year that it would provide longer range Patriot systems which can intercept ballistic missiles, a capability Ukraine does not currently have.
In a phone call to Zelenskyy on Saturday, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak repeated his country’s promise made early this year to provide Ukraine with Challenger 2 tanks.
Officials from Poland and Finland recently announced that they intended to provide Ukraine with Leopard tanks produced by Germany. But Berlin has not yet signaled its approval of such supplies from third parties.