Russian attacks on Ukraine’s Kharkiv region kill at least 11 people

Dozens of people also wounded, Ukrainian officials say, as Moscow continues offensive in Ukraine’s northeastern region.

A police officer searches for parts of a bomb dropped during a Russian air strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine [File: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

Russia has struck a busy lakeside resort on the edge of Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv and also attacked villages in the surrounding area, killing at least 11 people and wounding many others, Ukrainian authorities said.

The missile attacks are the latest by Russian forces in the Kharkiv region in recent weeks, as Moscow launched an offensive in the northeastern part of Ukraine earlier this month.

Six people – including a pregnant woman – were killed on the outskirts of Kharkiv city in a missile strike launched from Russia’s territory of Belgorod, Ukrainian authorities said.

Twenty-seven others were wounded in the strike on a recreation centre, with one employee missing, the Kharkiv prosecutor’s office said.

“Among the wounded is a police officer and an ambulance paramedic who came to help people after the first hit,” the office said.

In the lakeside resort area, 69-year-old resident Valentyna had blood running down her face after her home was destroyed and a busy restaurant nearby was obliterated.

Her husband was killed down by the water, she said, gesturing to the area near the shore where there was now a crater, rubble and corpses.

“To lose my husband, to lose my house, to lose everything in the world, it hurts, it hurts me,” she shouted through tears.

Yaroslav Trofimko, a police inspector who arrived after the first strike and was then caught up in the second, said there were no soldiers in the area when the attacks occurred.

“It was a Sunday, people were supposed to be here to rest. Children were supposed to be here, pregnant women, resting, enjoying a normal way of life,” he said.

On Saturday, Kharkiv’s Governor Oleh Syniehubov said 9,907 people had been evacuated from the region following a ground attack by Russian troops.

Al Jazeera’s John Holman, reporting from Kharkiv on Saturday, said that Ukraine was “outmanned in terms of soldiers” in parts of the front line.

“Ukraine said that there were seven Russian soldiers to one Ukrainian soldier, so that’s going to put fresh pressure on them,” he said.

But in his evening address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his forces had strengthened their defences in the area.

“As a result of these days – of the whole week – we have secured stronger positions in the Kharkiv region,” he said.

Russian troops advanced between five and 10km (three to six miles) along the northeastern border before being halted by Ukrainian forces, Zelenskyy said in an interview with the AFP news agency on Friday.

The Ukrainian president has also again called on Western allies to supply Kyiv with additional air defence systems to protect Kharkiv and other cities.

“The world can stop Russian terror – and to do so, the lack of political will among leaders must be overcome,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram.

“Two Patriots for Kharkiv will make a fundamental difference,” he said, referring to Patriot missile defence systems. Air defence systems for other cities and sufficient support for soldiers on the front line would ensure Russia’s defeat, Zelenskyy added.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies