Rescue workers killed in Russian strikes on Ukraine’s Kharkiv

Ukrainian officials say wave of Shahed drone strikes on border city injured at least 12 people.

Damaged buildings following a deadly Russian drone attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine
Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov says Russia deployed Iranian-made Shahed drones in the latest deadly attack [Oleh Synehubov via Telegram/Handout via Reuters]

Rescue workers were among at least four people killed in Russian strikes on residential buildings in Ukraine’s eastern city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian officials say.

Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov said on Thursday in a message on the Telegram app that 12 people were injured in the attacks on the buildings that had previously been bombed in a “densely populated district of Kharkiv”.

Three of the dead were rescuers who had arrived at the scene to deal with the aftermath of the earlier strikes, the Kyiv Post reported.

Kharkiv, the capital of the region of the same name, lies just 30km (19 miles) from the border with Russia and has come under frequent bombardment since Moscow launched its invasion in February 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it “a despicable and cynical attack”.

“Russian terrorists will be held accountable for their actions in Kharkiv and for all acts of aggression against our people,” he said in a post on X, adding that “strengthening Ukraine’s air defense capabilities directly translates into saving lives”.

Images posted on social media showed partly destroyed residential buildings as well as an ambulance and a fire truck that were also damaged in the strikes.

Kharkiv’s Governor Oleg Synegubov said there were at least 15 drone attacks on Ukraine’s second-largest city overnight, but some of them were downed.

He said Iranian-made Shahed drones were used.

One of those injured was a nurse caught in a later, secondary blast, Synehubov added. A 69-year-old woman was killed when a 14-storey building was hit.

Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians.

Last week, Russian forces used an aerial bomb on the city, killing one person. A missile attack on an industrial area earlier in the month killed five people.

‘Critical zero’

Russia in recent weeks has intensified its attacks on electricity and other infrastructure, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power.

About 350,000 residents were cut off from power supply in Kharkiv and the surrounding region, Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy said in a statement on Telegram.

Ukrainian officials have urged the country’s allies to supply more anti-aircraft defence systems, in particular modern US-made Patriot systems.

US military aid to Ukraine has been drying up, with a $60bn funding package currently stalled in Congress, amid fierce opposition from Republicans.

As the conflict grinds on, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Thursday that the situation between Moscow and NATO was “predictably and deliberately” deteriorating.

All channels of dialogue between Moscow and the military alliance have been brought to a “critical zero” level by Washington and Brussels, he added in an interview with Russian state news agency RIA.

At the same time, he said, Russia had no intention to start military conflict with NATO or its members.

NATO foreign ministers are closing out their two-day meeting in Brussels on Thursday. On Wednesday, urged by Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, they agreed to move towards guaranteeing long-term weapon deliveries to Ukraine. But proposals to establish a $107bn five-year fund met resistance from some quarters.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies