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At least 8 killed in ‘extremely brutal’ Russian strikes on Kharkiv, Donetsk

A fire burns following Russian strikes on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Feb. 24, 2022. (Video screenshot)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

At least seven people were killed on May 23 in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv in a wave of Russian strikes that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called “extremely brutal” as he again appealed to allies for more air-defense systems for his embattled country.

Ukraine’s State Emergency Service announced the increase in the number of dead and injured on Facebook in a post that included photos of emergency response workers extinguishing a fire and assisting victims.

Oleh Synyehubov, the governor of Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, said earlier on Telegram that Russia launched at least 15 missiles at the city, killing six civilians and wounding another 16, while two more people were still missing after the attack. He said later that seven were killed, including five women.

“All of them are civilians. All of them are employees of a well-known enterprise that printed magazines, newspapers, and other printing,” he said, adding that about 50 people were working at the time of the strike.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said separately that one missile struck a printing press, triggering a large-scale fire.

Russian forces launched a surprise offensive on the Kharkiv region on May 10, shelling border settlements and attempting to capture Vovchansk, a small town just 5 kilometers from the Russian border.

More than 9,000 people have been evacuated from the area, although outgunned and outmanned Ukrainian forces have managed to keep the Russians at bay so far.

Kharkiv, a city of more than 1.4 million before the war, located at some 35 kilometers from the border, has been increasingly subjected to missile and drone attacks as Ukraine’s lack of enough modern air-defense systems and ammunition became more evident by the day.

“An extremely brutal Russian attack on Kharkiv and [the nearby town of] Lyubotyn. According to preliminary data, Russia launched 15 missiles at once,” Zelenskiy wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“Russian terrorists are taking advantage of Ukraine’s lack of sufficient air-defense protection and reliable capability to destroy terrorist launchers at their exact locations, which are close to our borders,” Zelenskiy said.

“I am grateful to everyone who is helping us. But we need more determination, especially from world leaders,” he said.

Separately, Donetsk regional Governor Vadym Filashkin said on May 23 that one person was killed and 26 others were wounded in Russian shelling of the town of Toretsk.

On the Russian side, two deaths were reported in occupied Crimea after explosions were heard on the peninsula.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Moscow-installed governor of Crimea, said on Telegram that a Ukrainian missile attack killed two bystanders near Simferopol, the peninsula’s main administrative center. Aksyonov also said a Ukrainian missile struck an empty building near Alushta on the peninsula’s Black Sea coast.

There was no comment on the attack from Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said its air-defense systems repelled a large Ukrainian rocket and drone attack targeting Belgorod region on May 23.

“The air-defense systems on duty destroyed three Vilkha MLRS rockets, 32 Vampire MLRS rockets, and three UAVs over the territory of the Belgorod region,” the ministry said in a message on Telegram.

Belgorod Governor Cyacheslav Gladkov said in a separate message that there were no casualties from the attack, but two children’s camps were damaged by falling debris.

The claims could not be independently verified immediately. Ukraine has not commented.

In a separate development, the Conflict Intelligence Team investigation group said it had confirmation that the small Russian small missile corvette Tsiklon (Cyclone) was sunk following a Ukrainian attack on Sevastopol on the night of May 19. The Black Sea Fleet received this ship in the summer of last year.