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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Toll of Russian strikes mounts, adding urgency to Ukraine’s pleas for weapons

Kateryna Smovzh mourns over the grave of her fiancée, Ukrainian soldier Vasyl Vasiliovych Kurbet, 41, who died earlier this month from injuries sustained in combat near Bakhmut, in the eastern Donbas region, at a cemetery in Bucha, Ukraine on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022.

By Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Victoria Kim

Russian missiles pummeled civilian targets in Ukraine again Thursday, bringing the death toll from a four-day barrage to more than three dozen and adding urgency to Ukraine’s demands for more aid.

The European Union said Thursday it would train Ukrainian soldiers on EU soil, the first time the bloc has undertaken such a mission within its territory. Its pledge is the latest in a series of swift new promises of military help from the United States and other Western nations.

As defense officials from NATO countries meet in Brussels to discuss expediting weapons to Ukraine, the United States is working to deliver two air-defense systems, the White House said. Ukraine said it had received the first of several ultramodern air-defense systems from Germany.

Still, top Western defense officials have acknowledged that Kyiv needs yet more weapons after the barrage of strikes President Vladimir Putin of Russia ordered Monday that killed at least 19 people across Ukraine — including areas such as Lviv, in the west, and Kyiv, the capital, that had been relatively unscathed for months — in retaliation for an attack on a bridge that connects Russia with the occupied Crimean Peninsula.

Putin said the explosion was a terrorist attack and blamed Ukraine. Kyiv has not officially claimed responsibility, but senior Ukrainian officials have said Ukrainian intelligence carried out the blast.

Russia’s attacks have targeted civilian infrastructure, including electrical lines, and have included areas away from the front lines as well as cities that have been struck repeatedly throughout the seven-month war.

Some 40 cities, towns and villages around the country had been struck since Wednesday morning, the Ukrainian military said, with officials reporting that 17 people had been killed Wednesday. A drone attack hit the Kyiv region Thursday, adding to anxiety in a region mostly spared from strikes, but the capital was otherwise mostly calm.

A strike Thursday left people buried under the rubble of an apartment building in Mykolaiv, a city near the Black Sea coast that attacks have targeted since the war began. Eight missiles landed overnight in Mykolaiv, the head of the regional military administration, Vitaliy Kim, wrote on the Telegram messaging app Thursday.

The city’s mayor, Oleksandr Sienkevych, said the top two floors of the building were “completely destroyed.” An 11-year-old boy was rescued after spending six hours buried in the crumbled five-story building, Kim said. In a later post on Telegram, he said rescuers searching the building had recovered the bodies of a 31-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a senior official in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, said 11 people were killed in missile strikes Wednesday in the Dneprotrovsk region of central Ukraine and one person was wounded. He said on Telegram that two people were killed and 13 others wounded in the hard-hit southern Zaporizhzhia region, while in the Mykolaiv region two people were killed Wednesday and six others were injured.

The Zaporizhzhia region has borne the brunt of Russia’s recent attacks. The regional police chief said at least 73 people had been killed there since late September, including 30 who died when three missiles hit a convoy of people leaving the main city Sept. 30.

Russia has in the past denied that it targets civilian areas and accused Ukraine of shelling civilians in areas of the country that Moscow and its proxy forces control. On Thursday, the pro-Russian mayor of the city of Donetsk, Alexei Kulemzin, said on Telegram that Ukrainian shelling had damaged a hospital in the city. His comments were reported by Russia’s state news agency, Tass.

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