Five killed by Russian strike in central Ukraine

At least five people have been killed by a Russian drone and missile strike on the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, officials say.

A further 47 people were injured in the blast early on Wednesday morning, regional governor Serhii Lysak wrote on Telegram. Officials said shops, schools and hospitals were damaged by the strike.

Mr Lysak described the attack as “vicious”. Footage shared on social media showed a large plume of smoke and fire erupting from buildings after the blast.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack and renewed his appeal to Western allies to supply his government with further air defence systems.

“Only two things can stop this Russian terror – modern air defence systems and the long-range capabilities of our weapons,” he wrote on social media.

Dnipro, a city with a pre-war population of about a million people, has been a frequent target for Russian attacks since the war began over two years ago. Last year, 40 people were killed after a Russian missile slammed into a residential apartment building in the city.

Ukraine’s air force said it downed six drones and five out of seven missiles which had targeted the city early on Wednesday.

But images posted by Mr Lysak after the barrage showed buildings ripped open in the city centre, with glass shattered and strewn across the ground.

Georgii, an elderly witness sporting a bandaged nose and bloodied face, told the Reuters news agency: “There was such a strong explosion that the wave hit me and I fell.”

Among the injured was a 14-year-old girl, Mr Lysak said. Two other people in serious conditions were being treated at hospital, he added.

The head of the regional council, Mykola Lukashuk, condemned what he called an act of “cynical terror” by Russian forces. An official day of mourning has been declared by city officials.

Elsewhere, two civilians were killed in overnight strikes in eastern Ukraine, officials in Donetsk and Luhansk have said.

Russia has intensified its aerial attacks on Ukraine in recent months. While Moscow denies targeting civilian infrastructure, the UN’s human rights monitoring mission said May was the deadliest month for civilian casualties in almost a year.

President Zelensky has issued increasingly urgent requests for new air defence systems in that time, urging his allies in the West to ignore Russian threats that such actions could trigger an escalation of tensions.

On Tuesday, he met with Hungary’s Prime Minister, Victor Orban, who has just taken over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Mr Orban has long been Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in Europe and has frequently criticised EU aid packages for Ukraine. The men’s body language was not warm during the tense meeting in Kyiv, with Mr Orban urging Mr Zelensky to seek a ceasefire and expedited peace negotiations.

Elsewhere, Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday that it had captured a key district in the hilltop settlement of Chasiv Yar. The small town in eastern Ukraine has been at the centre of intense fighting for months.

The town, which has been flattened by endless shelling, is viewed as a potential staging ground for Russian forces as they advance on the remaining Ukrainian-held areas in the Donetsk region.

Kyiv has yet to comment on the claims.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military intelligence agency has said it was behind a fire which broke out on a Russian warship in the Baltic Sea in April.

GUR spokesperson Andriy Yusov told Reuters that the agency had targeted the Serpukhov missile ship, operating in tandem with a pro-Kyiv group called the Freedom of Russia legion.

“As a result of the sabotage, [we] managed to ruin the ship from inside and completely destroy communication and its means of automation,” the legion said on its Telegram account.

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