Missiles, drones hit civilian buildings in Ukraine

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Kyiv, Mar. 23Ukraine’s president posted a video Wednesday showing what he said was a Russian missile slamming into an apartment building in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, after Russia launched launched exploding drones that killed at least four people at a student dormitory near Kyiv before dawn.

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 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.

Ukrainian media carried pictures showing charred apartments on several stories of the affected buildings, and flames billowing from some of them. The number of causalities was unknown.

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 offer any evidence to back up his claim.

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

An overnight 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 hospitalized, Nebytov said, and a few others were unaccounted for.

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.

The drone barrage and other Russian overnight attacks that struck civilian infrastructure drew a scathing response from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a day after Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed China’s proposals for negotiating an end to the war.

“Over 20 Iranian murderous drones, plus missiles, numerous shelling occasions, and that’s just in one last night of Russian terror,” Zelenskyy wrote in English on Twitter.

“Every time someone tries to hear the word ‘peace’ in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes,” he wrote.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is the current chair of the Group of Seven countries, made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Tuesday, throwing his support behind Zelenskyy’s government as his Asian rival Xi sided with Putin.

After returning to Poland Wednesday morning, Kishida said he had expressed the “unwavering determination of solidarity” of Japan and G-7 to Ukraine during his talks with Zelenskyy. (AP)

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