Missiles, drones slam into civilian buildings in Ukraine
Emergency personnel work at the scene following a drone attack in the town of Rzhyshchiv, Kyiv region, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s president posted a video Wednesday showing what he said was a Russian missile slamming into a city apartment building, hours after the Kremlin’s forces launched exploding drones that killed at least four people at a student dormitory near Kyiv before dawn.

The video posted by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Telegram appeared to be CCTV footage that captured the moment a missile hit the nine-story residential block by a busy road in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia.

Ukrainian media carried pictures showing charred apartments on several stories of the affected buildings, and flames billowing from some of them. Two children were among the 18 people injured, Zaporizhzhia City Council Secretary Anatolii Kurtiev said. Local officials said 11 people were hospitalised after the apartment strike, four of them in critical condition.

“Russia is shelling the city with bestial savagery,” Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram along with the video. “Residential areas where ordinary people and children live are being fired at.”

He appealed for countries to step up pressure on the Kremlin to give up its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has denied targeting residential areas even though artillery and rocket strikes hit apartment buildings and civilian infrastructure on a daily basis

Earlier Wednesday, a nighttime drone attack partially destroyed a high school and two dormitories in the city of Rzhyshchiv, south of the Ukrainian capital, local officials said. It wasn’t clear how many people were in the dormitories at the time.

The body of a 40-year-old man was pulled from the rubble on a dormitory’s fifth floor, according to regional police chief Andrii Nebytov. More than 20 people were hospitalised, Nebytov said.

Just hours earlier, Japan’s prime minister left the Ukrainian capital following a show of support for the country.

The same day, Chinese leader Xi Jinping left Moscow after discussing his proposal for ending the war, which has been rejected by the West as a non-starter.

The barrage Wednesday continued relentless Russian shelling as the war largely ground to a stalemate over the winter months.

Zaporizhzhia’s regional administration said two missiles struck the apartment block, saying Russia’s goal is “to scare the civilian population of the city of thousands.”

“It’s hell in Zaporizhzhia,” Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Goncharenko wrote on Telegram, adding: “There aren’t any military facilities nearby.”

However, Vladimir Rogov, an official with the Moscow-appointed regional administration for the Russia-occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region, claimed the building was hit by a Ukrainian air defence missile that was launched to intercept a Russian missile.

He didn’t cite any evidence to back up his claim.

Russian officials have blamed Ukrainian air defences for some of the deadliest strikes on apartment buildings in the past, charging that the deployment of air defence systems in residential areas puts civilians at risk.

Ukrainian air defences downed 16 of the 21 drones launched by Russia, the Ukraine General Staff said. Eight of them were shot down near the capital, according to the city’s military administration. Other drone attacks struck central-western Khmelnytskyi province.

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