Russian Missiles Slam Into A Ukraine City And Kill 17 People As The War Approaches A Critical Stage

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service, rescuers work at the site of a Russian missile strike in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Ukrainian Emergency Service via AP Photo)
In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service, rescuers work at the site of a Russian missile strike in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Ukrainian Emergency Service via AP Photo)
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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Three Russian missiles slammed into a downtown area of the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv on Wednesday, hitting an eight-floor apartment building and killing at least 17 people, authorities said.

At least 61 people, including three children, were wounded in the morning attack, Ukrainian emergency services said, as rescue workers searched through partially demolished buildings and tall mounds of rubble. Chernihiv lies about 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of the capital, Kyiv, near the border with Russia and Belarus, and has a population of around 250,000 people.

The latest Russian bombardment came as the war has stretched into its third year and approaches what could be a critical juncture. A lack of further military support from Ukraine's Western partners increasingly leaves it at the mercy of the Kremlin's bigger forces.

Through the winter months, Russia made no dramatic advance along the 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line, focusing instead on attritional warfare. However, Ukraine’s shortage of artillery ammunition, troops and armored vehicles has allowed the Russians to gradually push forward, military analysts say.

A crucial factor is the holdup in Washington of approval for an aid package that includes roughly $60 billion for Ukraine. House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday that he would try to move the package forward this week.

Ukraine’s need is acute, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank.

“The Russians are breaking out of positional warfare and beginning to restore maneuver to the battlefield because of the delays in the provision of U.S. military assistance to Ukraine,” the ISW said in an assessment late Tuesday, adding that “only the U.S. can provide rapidly and at scale.”

Ukraine got some good news Wednesday from Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, who said his country has secured 500,000 artillery shells for Ukraine from countries outside the European Union. The first shells are due for delivery in June.

The 27-nation EU promised a year ago to send Ukraine 1 million artillery shells, but the bloc was unable to produce that many.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded with Western countries to provide more air defense equipment, including more surface-to-air Patriot guided missile systems. He said the Chernihiv strike "would not have happened if Ukraine had received enough air defense equipment and if the world’s determination to counter Russian terror was also sufficient.”

Zelenskyy told PBS in an interview broadcast earlier this week that Ukraine recently ran out of air defense missiles while it was defending against a major missile and drone attack that destroyed one of Ukraine’s largest power plants, part of a recent Russian campaign targeting energy infrastructure.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba repeated Zelenskyy’s appeal as he prepared to attend a Group of Seven foreign ministers’ meeting in Italy.

“We need at least seven more Patriot batteries to protect our cities and economic centers from destruction,” Kuleba told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published Wednesday. “Why is it so difficult to find seven Patriot batteries?”

Ukrainian forces are digging in, building fortifications in anticipation of a major Russian offensive that Kyiv officials say could come as early as next month.

Ukraine is using long-range drone and missile strikes behind Russian lines which are designed to disrupt Moscow’s war machine.

Russia’s defense ministry said a Ukrainian drone was shot down over the Tatarstan region early Wednesday. That's the same area that was targeted in early April by Ukraine's deepest strike so far inside Russia, about 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) east of Ukraine.

Ukrainian drone developers have been extending the weapons’ range.

Another Ukrainian drone was shot down over the Mordovia region, roughly 350 kilometers (220 miles) east of Moscow, the ministry said. That is 700 kilometers (430 miles) from the Ukrainian border.

About an hour before the Mordovia attack, Russia’s civil aviation authority halted flights at airports in two of the country’s largest cities, Nizhny Novgorod and Tatarstan's Kazan, because of safety concerns.

Also, unconfirmed reports said a Ukrainian missile struck an airfield in occupied Crimea. Neither Russian nor Ukrainian officials confirmed the strike, but local authorities temporarily closed a road where the airfield is located. Russian news agency Tass quoted the local mayor as saying windows in a mosque and a private house in the region were shattered in a blast there.


Associated Press writers Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin and Karel Janicek in Prague contributed.


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