Ukrainian officials said Monday the death toll from a Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Dnipro had risen to at least 40, with rescue crews still searching the rubble for any survivors.
Dnipropetrovsk regional Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said on social media said the attack had injured 75 people and that the fate of 30 others was unknown. Thirty-nine have been rescued.
Rescue workers used shovels and cranes to move the debris on Monday, working continuously in the hopes of locating survivors and victims.
The missile strike took place Saturday with what Ukraine’s air force command said was a Kh-22 missile launched from Russia’s Kursk region. Military officials said Ukrainian forces shot down 21 of 33 total missiles Russia fired that day, but that Ukraine does not have a system capable of intercepting the Kh-22.
Josep Borrell, European Union foreign policy chief, called the Russian strike and others like it on civilian targets "inhumane aggression."
"There will be no impunity for these crimes," he said in a tweet on Sunday. Russian forces have repeatedly hit civilian targets since invading Ukraine in February.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condemned the attack, saying it was "another example of a suspected violation of the laws of war," according to U.N. spokeswoman Stephanie Tremblay.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called for a special tribunal to prosecute Russian leaders for alleged war crimes.
Russian officials have repeatedly denied targeting civilians in Ukraine, including again Monday as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian forces "do not strike residential buildings or social infrastructure. They strike military targets." Peskov said what happened in Dnipro was caused by Ukrainian air defenses.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Monday that the attack in Dnipro highlights the need for faster and more coordinated decisions on arms supplies to Ukraine.
"What happened in Dnipro … only underscores how important it is to coordinate all the efforts of the coalition defending Ukraine and freedom," Zelenskyy said. "And to speed up decision-making."
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will host allies of Ukraine at an air base in Germany on Friday to discuss further Western military aid for Ukraine.
In Kyiv on Monday, a high-level U.S. delegation that included Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with Zelenskyy to deliver a message of unflinching U.S. support for Ukraine.
"The U.S., NATO and partners across the globe remain unified. We are delivering on our promises of aid," Sherman said.
Colin Kahl, undersecretary for policy at the Department of Defense, said that the number one priority of new military aid to Ukraine remains air defense, and that "another priority is making sure that Ukraine has the type of armored and mobile capability that is required to maintain momentum on the battlefield."
Fierce fighting continued to rage Monday in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, where military analysts have said both sides are likely suffering heavy troop casualties in a standoff.
In the southwestern region of Kherson, regional Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said Russian forces shelled the city and the region, killing three people and wounding 14 others over the past 24 hours.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, said it believes the Kremlin is taking steps to turn its Ukraine invasion into "a major conventional war" after months of embarrassing military reversals.
"The Kremlin is likely preparing to conduct a decisive strategic action in the next six months intended to regain the initiative and end Ukraine's current string of operational successes," the institute’s report said.
It noted reports indicating the Russian military command was in "serious preparations" for an expanded mobilization effort, conserving mobilized personnel for future use, while seeking to boost military industrial production and reshuffling its command structure.
That means Ukraine's Western allies "will need to continue supporting Ukraine in the long run," the think tank said.
Ukraine’s neighbor to the north, Belarus, began joint military exercises with Russia on Monday.
The Belarusian Defense Ministry said the drills would run until February 1 and utilize all of the country’s military airfields.
Areas of training include aerial reconnaissance, border patrols, tactical air assault landing and evacuation of the wounded, the ministry said.
Belarus has participated in numerous military exercises with Russia since the conflict began, increasing fears in Ukraine and among its allies that Russia is hoping Belarus will enter the war on its side, despite assurances from Minsk it won’t join the fight.
Pavel Muraveyko, first deputy state secretary of the Security Council of Belarus, said in a post on the social media platform Telegram that “the exercise is purely defensive in nature.”
Russia held military exercises in Belarus just before sending tens of thousands of those troops across the border into Ukraine at the start of its invasion.
VOA's Anna Chernikova contributed to this report. Some information for this report came from Agence France-Presse, Reuters and The Associated Press.