Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky slammed Russia as an “evil state” for striking civilian targets amid Moscow’s bombardment of the eastern city of Sloviansk, where 11 people, including a 2-year-old boy, were killed and rescue crews are frantically scrambling to reach people in the rubble.
“The evil state once again demonstrates its essence,” Zelensky said in a posting on social media. “Just killing people in broad daylight. Ruining, destroying all life.”
The Ukrainian president’s comments were in reaction to Russia’s missile attack Friday on a block of apartment buildings in Sloviansk.
The death toll increased Saturday to 11 from 8, including the young boy who died after being found in from the debris.
“A little boy was pulled out of the rubble in front of my eyes, while he was still alive. Unfortunately, he died in the ambulance. A girl of 14 was rescued,” Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk region military administration, told reporters as he viewed the destruction.
Rescuers were able to pull a woman in her 70s alive from the wreckage of an apartment building.
Vadym Liakh, the mayor of Sloviansk, said the young boy’s father was still trapped in the rubble and his mother is receiving medical care.
He said 33 buildings were targeted in the Russian attack, along with 33 private homes, some administrative buildings and a schoolyard.
“This is the first such massive attack (on the city) this year. The last such strike was last summer,” Liakh told CNN on Saturday. “There was less than a minute between the explosions.”
Sloviansk is in Donetsk province about 28 miles west of Bakhmut where a fierce battle has been raging for months between Ukrainian and Russian forces for control of the region.
The British military said Friday that Ukrainian troops have had to pull back from parts of Bakhmut in the face of a renewed Russian surge with more troops to capture the heavily contested city of roughly 70,000 people.
Taking Bakhmut would give the Russians their first major victory in months and secure a foothold to capture more territory in the Donbas region.
Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin signed a bill on Friday that would allow Russia to send draft notices electronically instead of in person in an attempt to significantly boost military rosters amid the more than year old war in Ukraine.
The bill would also allow Russia to block draft-dodgers from leaving the country.
With Post wires