Russian missiles slam into a Ukraine city and kill 17 people as the war approaches a critical stage

Tescuers work on Wednesday at the site of a Russian missile strike in Chernihiv, Ukraine. (Ukrainian Emergency Service/via AP Photo)

KYIV, Ukraine — Three Russian missiles slammed into a downtown area of the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv on Wednesday, hitting an eight-floor apartment building and killing at least 17 people, authorities said.

At least 61 people, including three children, were wounded in the morning attack, Ukrainian emergency services said, as rescue workers searched through partially demolished buildings and tall mounds of rubble. Chernihiv lies about 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of the capital, Kyiv, near the border with Russia and Belarus, and has a population of around 250,000 people.


The latest Russian bombardment came as the war has stretched into its third year and approaches what could be a critical juncture. A lack of further military support from Ukraine’s Western partners increasingly leaves it at the mercy of the Kremlin’s bigger forces.

Through the winter months, Russia made no dramatic advance along the 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line, focusing instead on attritional warfare. However, Ukraine’s shortage of artillery ammunition, troops and armored vehicles has allowed the Russians to gradually push forward, military analysts say.

A crucial factor is the holdup in Washington of approval for an aid package that includes roughly $60 billion for Ukraine. House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday that he would try to move the package forward this week.

Ukraine’s need is acute, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank.

“The Russians are breaking out of positional warfare and beginning to restore maneuver to the battlefield because of the delays in the provision of U.S. military assistance to Ukraine,” the ISW said in an assessment late Tuesday, adding that “only the U.S. can provide rapidly and at scale.”

Ukraine got some good news Wednesday from Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, who said his country has secured 500,000 artillery shells for Ukraine from countries outside the European Union. The first shells are due for delivery in June.

The 27-nation EU promised a year ago to send Ukraine 1 million artillery shells, but the bloc was unable to produce that many.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded with Western countries to provide more air defense equipment, including more surface-to-air Patriot guided missile systems. He said the Chernihiv strike “would not have happened if Ukraine had received enough air defense equipment and if the world’s determination to counter Russian terror was also sufficient.”

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