Ukraine’s president says Russian attacks, which killed at least nine people, will not go unanswered.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his country will “respond to any blow” after Russian strikes killed at least eight people in the Kiev region and one person in the city of Zaporizhzhia.
“We will certainly respond to any blow from the occupier on our cities,” Zelensky said on Wednesday. “All Russian attacks will have a military, political and legal response.”
Seven people were also injured when two dormitories and a university were hit in a series of early morning drone strikes on the town of Rzhyshchiv, 40 miles south of the capital Kyiv, emergency services said on Facebook.
One person was rescued from the site and four people are believed to be trapped under the rubble. Rescue operations continued Wednesday evening.
Regional police chief Andrii Nebytov said an ambulance driver who went to the scene was among those killed.
“The majority of people (in the dormitories) were saved because they were … in bomb shelters,” Nebytov said.
Hours later, two residential buildings were damaged in a rocket attack on the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia. One person was killed and 33 were taken to hospital, officials said.
Zelensky described the attack on Zaporizhzhia as an act of “beastly cruelty”. He added that Wednesday’s attacks showed that Moscow was not interested in peace.
Sirens wailed through the capital and parts of northern Ukraine throughout the night. The army said it shot down 16 of 21 Shahed suicide drones made by Iran.
Visit to Bakhmut
The attacks on Wednesday came as Zelenskyy visited troops near the front line. His office released a video showing him handing out medals to soldiers, which was reportedly filmed near Bakhmut, the eastern city where Ukrainian forces are taking part in Europe’s deadliest infantry battle since World War II.
Russia’s only notable recent gains are around Bakhmut. Kiev decided not to withdraw from the area in recent weeks, as Kiev’s defenders inflicted enough losses on the Russian attackers to hold their ground.
In an intelligence update, the British Ministry of Defense said that while there was still a risk that the Ukrainian garrison in Bakhmut could be surrounded, the Russian assault on the town could gain momentum. The Ukrainian military agreed, saying Russia’s offensive potential in Bakhmut was diminishing.
A Ukrainian counter-attack west of Bakhmut in recent days was likely to ease pressure on Ukraine’s supply route, the British ministry added.
Xi leaves Moscow
Russia’s attacks also coincided with President Vladimir Putin’s farewell to his visiting “dear friend,” Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Receiving Xi this week in Moscow was Putin’s biggest diplomatic gesture since he launched the war against Ukraine a year ago and became a pariah in the West.
Washington criticized the timing of the trip just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin on war crimes charges.
Beijing has proposed a peace plan for Ukraine, which the West has largely dismissed as vague at best and a ploy at worst to buy Putin time to regroup his troops.
In a clear reference to the Chinese president’s visit to the Russian capital, Zelenskyy tweeted: “Every time someone tries to hear the word ‘peace’ in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal attacks.”