Russia Continues to Punish Deadly Attacks on Ukrainian Cities

A Russian missile attack on a small town in southeastern Ukraine and the ensuing inferno killed at least seven civilians, including three children, the country's authorities said Sunday, as they reviewed the deadly toll from two days of ferocious Russian attacks.

Yuriy Borzenko, head physician of the Zaporizhzhia regional children's hospital, said in a telephone interview that in addition to those killed, dozens of others, including a pregnant woman and five 14-year-old girls, were being treated for injuries sustained after the attack on the hospital in the southeastern city of Vilnius on Saturday.

The girls had gone out for a walk together in the afternoon sun, Dr. said. Borzenko, when shell explosions ripped through the center of the city, engulfing shops, cars and houses in flames. The shrapnel had lodged in the skull of one of the girls, who remained in a coma, she said, “still between life and death.”

“His parents are in very bad condition, I just saw them,” he added.

As one attack followed another, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his call to ease restrictions on the use of American long-range missiles known as ATACMS so that Ukraine can target warplanes at Russian air bases before they take off for bombing. .

“Long-range strikes and modern air defense are the basis for stopping Russian daily terror,” he said Sunday in a statement accompanying videos showing the aftermath of some of the week’s worst attacks.

The attack in Vilniansk was one of a series of attacks across Ukraine that have killed at least 24 civilians since Friday evening, according to local officials and rescue workers, who said dozens of others were injured.

Also on Saturday, nine people living in front-line villages in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region were killed by Russian shelling, local officials said. At least six more were killed in shelling on Sunday morning, officials added.

Three powerful guided bombs dropped by Russian warplanes exploded Saturday in the town of Derhachi in the northeastern Kharkiv region, hitting five multi-story apartment buildings, Ukrainian officials said. No deaths were reported, but two elderly men were said to have been hospitalized with shrapnel wounds.

Mr Zelensky said on Sunday that about 800 of these powerful bombs, containing hundreds of kilograms of explosives, had been dropped by Russian warplanes in the past week.

Although the Ukrainian Air Force said it shot down 10 Russian drones on Saturday, a 67-year-old man in the southern region of Kherson was killed in one of those strikes, local officials said.

A Russian missile also crashed into a high-rise apartment building in Dnipro, central Ukraine, on Friday evening. After days of sifting through the rubble, rescuers said Sunday that one person was confirmed dead and two others were missing.

All of the attacks – reported by local officials reached by phone, by the national police, by emergency services and by local hospitals, and with the aftermath of many of them captured on video by Ukrainian news outlets – took place within a 48-hour period and were only a partial snapshot of the day-to-day violence.

As Russian forces stepped up their assaults on the front, they also continued to carry out attacks across Ukraine, exploiting gaps in air defenses, aiming to sap the country of resources, shatter its economy, and break public spirit.

The total number of civilians killed in June is not yet available, but according to the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission, May was the month with the highest number of civilian casualties in Ukraine in a year.

Mission investigators reported that at least 174 civilians were killed and 690 others were injured in conflict-related violence that month.

The rising death toll has coincided with the ongoing bombardment of Ukraine’s power grid, which is making life difficult for millions of residents who already endure hours of scheduled blackouts every day.

Russia has regularly attacked thermal power plants across Ukraine, resulting in the loss of 90% of their generating capacity, Ildar Saliieev, head of DTEK, one of the country's largest private power companies, said in a statement.

“Due to the scale of the destruction, repairs will take years rather than months,” Mr. Salieiev wrote.

Ukrainian authorities have sought to prepare the population for what promises to be another difficult winter and have appealed to international allies to speed up the delivery of air defense systems that could limit further damage and save lives.

Even in the best-case scenario of no further serious damage to the grid, energy officials said Ukrainians should prepare for a winter of widespread blackouts.

Serhii Kovalenko, director of Yasno, another private Ukrainian energy company, said that as winter approaches, a significant daily deficit in the energy system is expected.

“If critical infrastructure is repaired and then remaining supplies are distributed, consumers could face a 50 percent shortfall,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, the baseline forecast is 12 hours without electricity.”

Anna Lukinova contributed reporting from Kiev. Natalia Novosolova contributed to the research.

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