Russia launched new airstrikes on residential areas in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Thursday, even as top European Union officials gathered in Kyiv in a new show of support for Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s nearly year-long invasion.
An attack on Kramatorsk late Wednesday killed at least three people and injured another 21, authorities said, with a search underway for at least one more victim thought to be under the debris caused by a missile strike.
"Kramatorsk again shattered by explosions — the Russians made two more rocket strikes," regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote in a Telegram post.
He said at least five civilians were wounded in the latest strikes that hit residential buildings as well as a children's clinic and a school in the heart of the city, a major hub for the Ukrainian military in the east. Russia has frequently struck apartment buildings in the war that it launched last February 24, while denying it is targeting residential structures.
The Ukrainian presidential office said overall in the last day, Russian shelling in Ukraine had killed at least eight civilians and wounded 29 others.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met in Kyiv with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen ahead of what officials described as a summit on Friday.
“We are here together to show that the EU stands by Ukraine as firmly as ever. And to deepen further our support and cooperation,” the EU leader tweeted.
EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said the delegation was in Kyiv to convey the EU’s “strongest message of support to all Ukrainians defending their country.” He added that the EU has stood with Ukraine since the start of Russia’s war and “will still stand with you to win and rebuild.”
EU and Ukrainian leaders are set to meet at a summit Friday to discuss the EU’s response to the conflict, reconstruction and relief efforts, global food security, and Ukraine’s application to join the EU.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Wednesday that Russia is trying to achieve some battlefield gains to show on the first anniversary of the war on February 24.
“In such circumstances, we all need to be especially united, especially focused on the national interest, and, as a result, especially resilient,” Zelenskyy said. “I am confident that we will stay like that.”
He noted what he called an increase in Russia’s offensive actions in eastern Ukraine, saying the situation “is becoming even more severe.”
Russian forces have been trying to secure control of Bakhmut, in Donetsk province, for months.
In nearby Kramatorsk, rescuers searched for survivors after a Russian missile destroyed an apartment building. The attack killed at least three people and wounded 20 others.
The United States on Wednesday blacklisted more business officials linked to Russia’s war on Ukraine, targeting an arms dealer, his son and a group of proxy companies across Asia, Europe and the Middle East for trying to help Moscow obtain more weapons for its nearly year-long fight.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury unveiled sanctions against Russian arms dealer Igor Zimenkov, his son Jonatan and companies connected to “the Zimenkov network” in Singapore, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Israel, among other countries.
“Russia’s desperate attempts to utilize proxies to circumvent U.S. sanctions demonstrate that sanctions have made it much harder and costlier for Russia’s military-industrial complex to resupply Putin’s war machine,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Treasury named 22 people and organizations it said were linked to the sanctions evasion network supporting Russia’s military-industrial complex. Over the last year, Treasury said it had sanctioned more than 100 people and entities engaging in activities to circumvent international sanctions and export controls imposed on Russia.
The blacklisting blocks any U.S. accounts they may own and prohibits them from doing business in the United States and with Americans.
“Targeting proxies is one of many steps that Treasury and our coalition of partners have taken, and continue to take, to tighten sanctions enforcement against Russia’s defense sector, its benefactors, and its supporters,” Adeyemo said.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.