On July 15, residents of the Ukrainian town of Vinnytsya mourned the death of 23 people killed by a Russian missile strike the previous day, while in the east of the country Russian forces shelled other sites in an attempt to take over more territory.
Among the dead at Vinnytsya were a 4-year-old girl and two boys, 7 and 8 years old. They perished in another Russian bombardment of a town far from the front line which caused numerous civilian casualties.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said air raid sirens were sounding across the country late on July 15, including in Dnipro and Kremenchuk, two towns south of Kyiv along the Dnieper River.
“The occupiers realize that we are gradually becoming stronger and that the purpose of their terror is very simple: to pressure us, to pressure our society, to intimidate people, to cause maximum damage to Ukrainian cities, at least during that Russian terrorists are still capable of doing it,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation.
The 4-year-old’s death has drawn worldwide attention. She was the daughter of Iryna Dmitrieva and was born with Down syndrome. Until the day of the airstrike, her mother was blogging about the challenges and joys of raising a child with Down syndrome.
Liza’s body was found after the Vinnytsya attack next to a stroller. Images of her pushing the same stroller, posted by her mother on the blog less than two hours before the attack, have gone viral.
Dmitrieva, seriously injured, remains hospitalized in a coma. Doctors said they had to hide her daughter’s death from her because if she found out, “we’d lose her.”
Zelenskiy’s wife, Olena, tweeted that she recognized the young girl, who had previously been part of a group of disabled children who painted Christmas decorations with the first lady in a holiday video.
Rescue teams searching the rubble at Vinnytsya were trying to locate at least 39 missing people.
State emergency services said at least 52 people were injured in Vinnytsya. The city council said many of them were in serious or critical condition.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said three children were among the victims, calling the attack a “deliberate killing of civilians to instil fear” and calling Russia a “terrorist state”.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it was aiming for “a meeting of the Ukrainian Air Force command with representatives of foreign arms suppliers”.
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said this was the third version of the Russian explanation for the attack.
Ignat added that while a building damaged in the airstrike belonged to the Air Force, it served as a de facto cultural institution.
“The biggest concerts of Ukrainian stars have taken place here, dozens of children’s clubs, unions and children’s organizations have worked here,” he said.
The building included recording studios, a cafe and a Privatbank branch, he added.
Ukraine’s State Service for Emergencies reported earlier that Kharkiv Oblast and the regional center were hit by rockets overnight. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Kyiv has been saying for weeks that Russian forces have been trying to make Kharkiv a “frontline city” in the war, which has otherwise shifted heavily to eastern regions around which Russian-backed separatists have held territory since 2014. .
The town of Bakhmut was also shelled again on July 15. According to the police, one rocket was fired at the city’s central market in the Donetsk region, two more at a residential area.
At least six people were injured in the attack, Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the regional military administration, said on Telegram.
“The city remains one of the hottest spots in the region,” Kyrylenko said. He also posted a video of the aftermath of the Russian attack.
“The Russians keep hitting all over the front and in the towns relatively to the rear,” he said. At least two people were killed and two others injured in the bombardment of several towns.
The claims could not be independently verified. Russia denies waging a war of aggression against Ukraine, calling it a “special operation”.
As the fighting raged, Russia noted progress in talks on a possible deal allowing Ukraine to use the Black Sea to export millions of tonnes of grain.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said a final document had been prepared and other participants had “widely supported” Russian proposals to facilitate grain shipments via Ukrainian ports.
Work on the initiative was expected to be completed shortly, he said. It would allow food shipments “while excluding the use of these supply chains for deliveries of arms and military equipment” to Ukraine. He also said the plan is to “prevent any provocation”.
Talks on grain exports were held earlier in Istanbul between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Russia and Ukraine had taken “a crucial step” to secure desperately needed grain exports.
Around the world, host Indonesia has warned that G20 financial leaders meeting in Bali must make progress in tackling global economic threats unleashed by Russia’s war on Ukraine or face catastrophic humanitarian consequences.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen condemned Russia’s “brutal and unjust war” in Ukraine and said Russian finance officials attending the meeting share responsibility for the “horrific consequences” of the war.
During his visit to Israel, US President Joe Biden declared on July 14 that “Putin’s war must be [made into] a strategic failure.