Ukrainian outrage after rocket attack, but Black Sea grain deal in sight

Rescue teams with sniffer dogs searched the rubble in a central Ukrainian city yesterday for people still missing after a Russian missile attack killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 100 others a day earlier.

Meanwhile, as the war nears the five-month mark, Russian forces have been bombing other locations in a bid to wrest territory from Ukraine and temper the indomitable morale of its leaders, civilians and troops.

The cruise missile attacks on the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia, launched by a Russian submarine, were the latest incidents, taking civilian lives and sparking international outrage since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion on February 24.

Even as fighting raged, Russia found signs of progress in talks over a possible deal that would allow Ukraine to export millions of tons of grain through the Black Sea to feed a world facing higher food prices.

Alluding to talks between Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations this week in Istanbul, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said a final document had been prepared and Russian proposals to facilitate grain shipments through Ukrainian ports were “largely… have been supported”. from other participants.

He said work on a document called the Black Sea Initiative should be completed “in the shortest possible time.”

The Russian proposal would allow food deliveries to Ukraine “excluding the use of these logistics chains for the delivery of arms and military equipment”. Lieutenant General Konashenkov also said the plan was aimed at “preventing any provocation”.

About 22 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukraine because of the war.

It was the most comprehensive Russian commentary to date on the grain talks, which mainly involved the military.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Russia and Ukraine had taken “a crucial step” to ensure exports of much-needed grain to help alleviate a global food crisis, but said more technical work was needed to finalize an agreement.

Russia’s military campaign is focused on Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, but Russian forces regularly fire on targets in many other parts of the country.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said yesterday that Russian forces carried out more than 17,000 attacks on civilian targets during the war, killing thousands of militants and civilians and driving millions from their homes.

The invasion has also impacted the global economy, raising prices and hampering exports of key Ukrainian and Russian products, including grain, fuel and fertilizers.

At least 73 people, including four children, remained hospitalized and 18 people were missing after Thursday’s strike, said Oleksandr Kutovyi of the Vinnytsia region ambulance service.

Search teams worked yesterday in two locations – an office building with a medical center and a concert hall near an outdoor recreation area where mothers with children often go for walks.

Vinnytsia Governor Serhiy Borzov said only 10 people have been identified among the dead so far.

“Russia deliberately beat civilians and all those responsible for the crime must be held accountable,” he said, condemning “Russia’s barbaric behavior that tramples on humanitarian law.”

Kyrylo Tymoshenko of the Ukrainian President’s Office said three rockets were used.

“There is no answer to the question why yesterday and why in Vinnytsia,” he said. “We expect every second and minute that this could happen in any corner of Ukraine.”

After initial silence following the attacks on Vinnytsia, the Russian Defense Ministry said yesterday its forces had attacked an officers’ club for which the concert hall was known in Soviet times.

A Defense Ministry spokesman said the Kalibr cruise missiles landed because “a meeting was held at this military facility between the Ukrainian Air Force Command and representatives of foreign arms suppliers.”

He said the participants discussed possible deliveries of fighter jets and weapons, as well as work to repair Ukrainian planes.

“Participants in the meeting were eliminated in the strike,” he said.

His claim could not be independently verified. Ukrainian authorities have insisted the location had nothing to do with the military.

The Presidential Office of Ukraine said yesterday that 26 civilians were killed and 190 injured by Russian shelling in the last 24 hours. This included three other casualties in the Donetsk region, which together with neighboring Luhansk – which is almost entirely controlled by Russian forces – forms the broader Donbass region.

“The situation in Donetsk is getting worse every day and civilians have to leave because the Russian army is using scorched earth tactics,” Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

It appeared that the cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk would be the next Russian forces, but it was not clear when the push could begin.

Elsewhere, authorities in Mykolayiv said there had been at least 10 blasts in the southern city overnight and accused Russia of hitting universities.

Vitaliy Kim, the head of the Mykolaiv military administration, released a video showing smoke rising after the strikes.

Separately, citing Russian-backed separatists, Russian news agency Tass said yesterday that two civilians were killed and six wounded after Ukrainian forces allegedly shelled a bus station in the city of Donetsk a day earlier. Ukrainian outrage after rocket attack, but Black Sea grain deal in sight

Fry Electronics Team

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