Missiles, drones slam into civilian buildings in Ukraine


KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s president posted a video Wednesday showing what he said was a Russian missile slamming into a city apartment building, hours after the Kremlin's forces launched exploding drones that killed at least four people at a student dormitory near Kyiv before dawn.

The video posted by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Telegram appeared to be CCTV footage that captured the moment a missile hit the nine-story residential block by a busy road in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia.

Ukrainian media carried pictures showing charred apartments on several stories of the affected buildings, and flames billowing from some of them. Two children were among the 18 people injured, Zaporizhzhia City Council Secretary Anatolii Kurtiev said. Local officials said 11 people were hospitalized after the apartment strike, four of them in critical condition.

“Russia is shelling the city with bestial savagery,” Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram along with the video. “Residential areas where ordinary people and children live are being fired at.”

He appealed for countries to step up pressure on the Kremlin to give up its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has denied targeting residential areas even though artillery and rocket strikes hit apartment buildings and civilian infrastructure on a daily basis

Earlier Wednesday, a nighttime drone attack partially destroyed a high school and two dormitories in the city of Rzhyshchiv, south of the Ukrainian capital, local officials said. It wasn’t clear how many people were in the dormitories at the time.

The body of a 40-year-old man was pulled from the rubble on a dormitory’s fifth floor, according to regional police chief Andrii Nebytov. More than 20 people were hospitalized, Nebytov said.

Just hours earlier, Japan’s prime minister left the Ukrainian capital following a show of support for the country.

The same day, Chinese leader Xi Jinping left Moscow after discussing his proposal for ending the war, which has been rejected by the West as a non-starter.

The barrage Wednesday continued relentless Russian shelling as the war largely ground to a stalemate over the winter months.

Zaporizhzhia’s regional administration said two missiles struck the apartment block, saying Russia’s goal is “to scare the civilian population of the city of thousands.”

“It’s hell in Zaporizhzhia,” Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Goncharenko wrote on Telegram, adding: “There aren’t any military facilities nearby.”

However, Vladimir Rogov, an official with the Moscow-appointed regional administration for the Russia-occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region, claimed the building was hit by a Ukrainian air defense missile that was launched to intercept a Russian missile.

He didn’t offer any evidence to back up his claim.

Russian officials have blamed Ukrainian air defenses for some of the deadliest strikes on apartment buildings in the past, charging that the deployment of air defense systems in residential areas puts civilians at risk.

Ukrainian air defenses downed 16 of the 21 drones launched by Russia, the Ukraine General Staff said. Eight of them were shot down near the capital, according to the city’s military administration. Other drone attacks struck central-western Khmelnytskyi province.

The drone barrage and other Russian overnight attacks that struck civilian infrastructure drew a scathing response from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a day after Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed China's proposals for negotiating an end to the war.

“Over 20 Iranian murderous drones, plus missiles, numerous shelling occasions, and that’s just in one last night of Russian terror,” Zelenskyy wrote in English on Twitter.

“Every time someone tries to hear the word ‘peace’ in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes,” he wrote.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is the current chair of the Group of Seven countries, made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Tuesday, throwing his support behind Zelenskyy's government as his Asian rival Xi sided with Putin.

After returning to Poland Wednesday morning, Kishida said he had expressed the “unwavering determination of solidarity” of Japan and G-7 to Ukraine during his talks with Zelenskyy.

Kishida’s visit to Ukraine was “very meaningful” for Japan’s future support for that country, Japan’s top government spokesman said Wednesday.

“Through Prime Minister Kishida’s visit to Ukraine, Japan was able to show not only to other members of the G-7 but also the international society including the Global South (nations) its determination to defend the rules-based international society,” Hirokazu Matsuno said.

Kishida’s visit snatched away some of the attention from Xi’s trip to Moscow where he promoted Beijing’s peace proposal for Ukraine, which Western nations had already dismissed as a way to consolidate Moscow's gains. Xi left Moscow early Wednesday.

The visits by Xi and Kishida highlighted how countries are lining up behind Moscow or Kyiv during the nearly 13-month-old war.

In a joint statement, Russia and China emphasized the need to “respect legitimate security concerns of all countries” to settle the conflict, echoing Moscow’s argument that it sent in troops to prevent the U.S. and its NATO allies from turning the country into an anti-Russian bulwark.

Kishida, by contrast, called Russia’s invasion a “disgrace that undermines the foundations of the international legal order” and pledged to “continue to support Ukraine until peace is back on the beautiful Ukrainian lands.”

Ukraine’s finance ministry said Wednesday said it has agreed with the International Monetary Fund on a $15.6 billion loan package aimed at shoring up Kyiv's finances. Russia’s invasion has crippled the economy, and Ukrainian officials hope the IMF deal will encourage their allies to provide financial support, too.