Seven dead in Russian strikes on Kharkiv as Kyiv pleads for weapons


  • World
  • Thursday, 23 May 2024

FILE PHOTO: A Police bomb squad member works at the site of a Russian air strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova/File Photo

KHARKIV, Ukraine (Reuters) -Russia pounded Kharkiv with missiles on Thursday, killing seven people in a printing house, as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called out his western allies for not providing enough military support to rebuff Russian attacks.

Moscow's forces have hammered the northeastern city for months and launched a ground assault into the north of the surrounding region on May 10, an offensive that Kyiv says has stalled on two lines of attack for now.

Authorities said Russia fired about 15 missiles at the city and the nearby town of Liubotyn, targeting mostly transport infrastructure and a large printing house in Kharkiv where around 50 people were located at the time of the strike.

Smoke poured out of a gaping hole torn in the roof of the structure. Exhausted rescue workers hauled out bodies in plastic bags from the building. Charred pages from books were scattered on the ground.

"There are no military facilities either here or nearby," regional governor Oleh Syniehubov told reporters at the scene.

Another 28 people were wounded in the attacks, officials said. The regional prosecutor's office said the missiles were launched from Russia's neighbouring Belgorod region, which Russian forces used to launch their May 10 incursion.

The state railway company said six of its workers had also been wounded after several of its facilities in Kharkiv and the region came under attack.

Russia also dropped guided bombs on the regional town of Derhachi, damaging private houses and injuring at least another 13 people, officials said.

'NOT OUR WEAKNESS'

In a social media post, Zelenskiy faulted Kyiv's international partners for not providing enough air defence systems or allowing Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike missile launchers inside Russia.

"This weakness is not our weakness, but that of the world's, which for the third year already has not dared to deal with the terrorists exactly as they deserve," he said.

The Ukrainian leader's rhetoric has grown increasingly frustrated as Kyiv's outmanned and outgunned forces have struggled to fend off fierce Russian assaults along multiple parts of a more than 1,000-kilometre (620 mile) front line.

The new offensive thrust launched by Russian forces into the north of the Kharkiv region this month further stretched Ukraine's troops, some of whom have been fighting since the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Ukraine's top commander said in a statement that Russia was now sending reserve forces to support its assault operations in the northern parts of the region after their troops had stalled on two main lines of attack.

Russian forces, said Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, were bogged down in street fighting in the border town of Vovchansk and had switched onto a defensive footing on the front near the village of Lyptsi.

Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, which lies some 30 km (18 miles) from the Russian border, has faced some of the most regular and heavy air assaults in recent months.

In an interview with Reuters this week, Zelenskiy called on Kyiv's allies to step up their involvement in the war, including by shooting down Russian missiles over Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba echoed Zelenskiy's plea for more air-defence systems on Thursday, saying Ukraine urgently needed more U.S.-made Patriot batteries.

"Unfortunately, mere words of solidarity do not intercept Russian missiles," he wrote on X.

(Additional reporting by Yuliia Dysa; Writing by Dan Peleschuk and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Gareth Jones, William Maclean)

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