Missile barrage on Ukraine city kills 17

Published April 18, 2024
A DAMAGED building at the site of the Russian missile strike in Chernigiv.—Reuters
A DAMAGED building at the site of the Russian missile strike in Chernigiv.—Reuters

CHERNIGIV/LONDON: Three Russian missiles crashed into Ukraine’s historic city of Chernigiv on Wednesday, killing 17 people, as officials pleaded for more air defence systems from allies.

Pools of blood gathered on the street at the scene of one strike, where rescuers searched for survivors in the rubble and carried away the wounded on stretchers, official images showed.

Buildings and cars across the centre of the northern city were destroyed in the strike.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has urged allies to send more missiles to thwart Russian aerial attacks, said Ukraine lacked the weapons it needed to intercept the three missiles that struck Chernigiv.

He said he had spoken to Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg about the strike and asked for “immediate steps” to bolster Ukraine’s air defences. Resident Olga Samoilenko said how she ducked with her children into the corridor of their apartment building for protection when the first missile exploded.

BBC report says 50,000 Russian soldiers have been killed during the conflict

“Our neighbours were already there. We started shouting for everyone to fall to the floor. They did. There were two more explosions. Then we ran to the parking lot,” the 33-year-old said.

The official death toll grew to 17 during the day, while emergency services said 60 people — including three children — had been wounded. “Search and rescue operations are ongoing,” their statement added.

Zelensky blamed Russia for the Chernigiv attack but also said the West should do more to help defend Ukraine’s skies. “This would not have happened if Ukraine had received sufficient air defence equipment and if the world’s determination to resist Russian terror had been sufficient,” he said.

Russian troop losses

More than 50,000 Russian military personnel have died during the Ukraine conflict, the BBC reported Wednesday, citing its own reporters, independent media group Mediazona and volunteers.

They found that more than 27,300 Russian soldiers died during the second year of the war, a 25-per cent increase on the first year.

BBC Russian, Mediazona and volunteers have been counting deaths since February 2022, using open-source information from official reports and the media, as well as using satellite images of Russian cemeteries to estimate the number of new graves.

The figure of more than 50,000 is eight times higher than the official toll acknowledged by Moscow in September 2022. It does not include deaths of militia in Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine said in February that it had lost 31,000 soldiers, but that figure is also likely to be significantly lower than the true toll.

Russian losses spiked in January 2023 as it launched a large-scale offensive in Donetsk and again months later last year during the battle for the city of Bakhmut.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” at dawn on February 24, 2022, which has since turned into a bloody and attritional war, isolating Russia from the Western world.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2024

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