Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday criticized Russian “terror” following the shelling of the newly recaptured city of Kherson on Christmas Eve, which left at least seven people dead and 58 others injured, in what Kyiv condemned as wanton killing for pleasure.
Fresh from a trip to the United States in search of more weapons to counter a 10-month-old Russian invasion, President Zelenskiy released photos showing the streets littered with burning cars, broken windows and bodies.
“Social media will likely label these photos as “sensitive content.” But this is not sensitive content – this is the real life of Ukraine and Ukrainians,” he wrote.
“These are not military installations … These are terrorist, these are killings for the sake of intimidation and pleasure.”
Yury Sobolevsky, deputy chairman of the regional council, said that the rocket fell next to a supermarket on the city’s Freedom Square.
“There were civilians there, each of whom was living his own life, going about his own business,” he said, noting the presence of a girl selling phone SIM cards, others unloading things from a truck, and passers-by.
Nothing was reported about this incident from Moscow. President Vladimir Putin has said his troops are fighting fascism in Ukraine and countering a Western threat to Russia’s security.
Russia denies that it has targeted civilians.
Reuters was unable to independently verify reports from Kherson.
Ukraine has reclaimed the city, the only regional capital that was captured by Russia after its February 24 invasion in November. Since then, according to Kyiv, Russian troops have shelled the city from behind the vast Dnieper River.
During the course of the war, Ukraine pushed Russian forces out of the areas around its capital, Kyiv, and its second-largest city, Kharkov. Now Moscow is focused on holding onto the territories its forces occupy in the south and east — about a fifth of Ukraine.
“Kill with impunity”
While two high-ranking officials put the death toll in Kherson at seven, the Prosecutor General’s Office gave a higher figure of eight. Presidential aide Kirill Timoshenko said that the shelling was carried out from the Grad multiple launch rocket system.
Another aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, has lashed out at those who are calling for Kyiv to negotiate peace talks with Russia, citing Moscow’s ruthless strikes on Ukraine’s energy system since October.
Ukrainian officials say Moscow has already fired more than 1,000 missiles into the country’s power grid and has warned of a harsh winter with massive shortages of electricity and pumping power that have cut central heating in most Ukrainian homes.
“For those who propose to take into account (Russian) “peaceful” initiatives, let me remind you: now Russia is “negotiating”, killing Kherson residents, erasing Bakhmut from the face of the earth, destroying Kyiv/Odessa networks, torturing civilians in Melitopol,” Podolyak wrote. .
“Russia wants to kill with impunity. Will we allow it?”
The governor of the Kherson region, Yaroslav Yanushevich, shared the appeal of the city blood bank with an appeal to urgently donate blood.
Kyiv was still recovering from Monday’s rocket attacks, which cut off half of the city’s power supply the next day, the Ukrainian prime minister said.
On Friday evening, the general manager of the primary energy supplier said that the western bank of Kyiv, which contains the city center and most of the central government buildings, was still severely damaged.