Deadly Russian attack on Dnipro: Ukrainian rescuers stop searching
DNIPRO: Ukraine on Tuesday halted its search for survivors on the Dnipro, under the rubble of a residential building destroyed by a Russian missile, one of the deadliest bombings of the war, which left 45 people dead and around 20 missing according to the final report.
The massacre only fueled Ukraine’s efforts to negotiate increased Western arms supplies, including the first face-to-face meetings in Poland on Tuesday with Ukrainian army commander Valery Zaluzhny and American chief of staff Mark Milley.
Regional Governor Valentyn Reznitchenko reported 45 deaths in Dnipro, including six children, as of Tuesday afternoon. According to media reports, an eleven-month-old baby was among those killed.
The official casualty had previously reported 44 killed, 20 missing and 79 injured.
Moments earlier, Ukraine’s emergency services had announced on Telegram the end of a “search and rescue operation at the attack site” in Dnipro (middle east).
It was one of the deadliest bombings on civilian sites since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost eleven months ago.
On Saturday, a missile ripped through the Quai de la Victoire building on Dnipro, damaging more than 200 apartments according to a Ukrainian presidential official.
Entire parts of the building collapsed, trapping dozens of people in the rubble.
For nearly four days, emergency services attempted to get survivors out, with reinforcements from cranes and dog brigades. Thirty-nine people were saved.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to bring “everyone guilty of these war crimes” to justice.
On Tuesday the funeral of one of the victims, a well-known boxing coach in his community, relatives gathered, some in tears, in front of his funeral and portrait. Near the casket, a blue and yellow wreath, the colors of the national flag.
“I will remember him as an open and honest person, always ready to help,” recalled Artem Birioukov, one of his students, during the farewell ceremony. “He is my second father,” he added.
For its part, Moscow denied as in previous episodes any involvement in the massacre. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov spoke on Monday of a “tragedy” which he said may have been caused by Ukrainian anti-aircraft fire.
The building was hit in a new major bombing campaign against Ukraine’s energy facilities, a campaign launched by the Kremlin in October after a series of Russian military setbacks to plunge Ukraine into the cold and black.
On the diplomatic front, Westerners have reaffirmed their support for Kyiv, which is still asking for more weapons, especially tanks, to further push back Russian troops from the territories it occupies.
“The message we are sending to (President Vladimir) Putin is that we are committed to defending Ukraine until they win,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.
On Saturday, London announced it wanted to deliver Challenger 2 armored vehicles to Kyiv, which would be the first shipment of Western heavy tanks to Ukraine.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz faced increasing pressure at the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland) on Tuesday to authorize deliveries, including by a third country to be equipped with them, the Leopard 2 tanks, which Kyiv has been demanding for years, weeks.
“We are trying to organize more support for Ukraine,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda, whose country said it was ready to deliver Leopard 2 tanks, “we hope the manufacturers of these tanks, Germany will also participate”.
A new meeting on Western military support for Ukraine is scheduled for Friday at the US base at Ramstein in Germany.
As the meeting drew near, Ukrainian General Zaloujny indicated that he had registered with American Milley the “urgent need” of kyiv. Ukraine requested tanks, light armor, anti-aircraft defense systems and long-range missiles.
Ukraine’s demands come as the Russian army and Wagner paramilitary groups have stepped up efforts in eastern Ukraine to capture the town of Bakhmout and its surroundings, a bloody battle that has been raging since the summer.
AFP journalists noted on Tuesday that heavy artillery fighting was underway around Bakhmout, a pre-war town of 70,000 and now largely destroyed.
“That’s Verdun over there,” said Ivan, a Ukrainian military paramedic, referring to the horrific First World War battles between the French and Germans in eastern France.