KYIV, Ukraine (USNEWSPRESS) — At least 10 missiles struck the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on Friday morning, hitting two local universities, according to regional officials, the latest in a series of Russian airstrikes on civilian areas around the country.
“Now they attack our education,” Vitaliy Kim, head of the Mykolaiv regional military administration, wrote on Twitter Friday. “At least 10 missiles.” Local news footage showed black smoke pouring from a building. At least two people were injured, according to the city’s mayor.
The attack in Mykolaiv came as rescue workers continued to dig through rubble in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia, after a Russian airstrike on Thursday killed at least 23 people and injured scores of others, according to Ukrainian officials. President Volodymyr Zelensky said at least three children under the age of 10 were among those killed.
Photographs from Vinnytsia shared on social media by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine showed two small legs wearing white-and-green sneakers protruding from under a pink stroller. Officials identified them as belonging to a dead girl, who had been walking in the area with her mother before the attack. A foot wearing a yellow, striped sock lay nearby. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said the girl’s mother had her leg blown off in the attack and was hospitalized.
“This day once again proved that Russia must be officially recognized as a terrorist state,” Mr. Zelensky said in a video posted online late Thursday night. “No other state in the world allows itself to destroy peaceful cities and ordinary human life with cruise missiles and rocket artillery every day.”
Mr. Zelensky also pressed foreign governments to curtail Russian energy exports, and to create a special United Nations tribunal to prosecute Russian aggression. With Russia holding veto power on the U.N. Security Council, any such tribunal is unlikely.
A Russian diplomat said on Thursday that Russia hits only military targets. Evgeny Varganov, a Russian representative at the U.N., said that Russian forces struck a building in Vinnytsia where Ukrainian armed forces were located, according to a report on his comments in Russian state media.
For more than a week, Russian ground forces have been on an “operational pause,” which military analysts say is designed to resupply regiments in the east, strengthen air defenses and allow exhausted troops a rest.
Pro-Russian separatists claimed to have entered the eastern Ukrainian city of Siversk, according to the British ministry of defense, and will likely push toward Bakhmut once Siversk has been taken.
Moscow, which has caches of long-range rockets far larger than Kyiv’s, hasn’t eased off airstrikes during the pause; it struck targets in the Donetsk, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv regions on Thursday.
The death toll from a Russian strike on a residential building in Chasiv Yar over the past weekend rose to 48, including a child, according to Ukraine’s emergency services. Ukrainian officials said that only civilians suffered in that strike, but Wall Street Journal reporters saw victims in military uniform being pulled from the rubble. Nine people were pulled out alive, Ukraine’s emergency services said.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said Thursday’s strike on Vinnytsia was part of “a systematic Russian campaign of attacks on residential areas of cities in Ukraine.”
Ukrainian forces, meanwhile, have begun a counterattack in the country’s south, designed to retake territory held by Russia since early in the war.
Ukrainian troops also fired at the center of Donetsk on Thursday, killing two civilians and injuring six at a car park, according to the territorial defense center of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Fallout from the war in Ukraine has shaken up Italian politics. Prime Minister Mario Draghi offered to resign on Thursday after his ruling coalition collapsed, partly due to differences over how much military aid to provide Ukraine.
Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella said late Thursday he wouldn’t accept Mr. Draghi’s resignation, adding to the uncertainty. Mr. Draghi has been one of the most outspoken European leaders in backing Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.