Kyiv: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky He said on Sunday that the Russian war, now in its 16th month, has killed at least 500 Ukrainian children.
Zelensky provided the number hours after rescue workers found the body of a two-year-old girl who died in one of Russia’s latest strikes.
The president said in a statement that “Russian weapons and hatred, which continue to kill and destroy the lives of Ukrainian children every day” have killed hundreds who have died since Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022.
“Many of them could have become famous scientists, artists and champions of sports, contributing to the history of Ukraine,” he said.
Zelensky said it is impossible to determine the exact number of child victims because of the ongoing hostilities and because some regions are under Russian occupation.
“We must stand firm and win this war!” said the Ukrainian president. “All of Ukraine, all of our people, all of our children, must be freed from Russian terror!”
Rescuers found the body of the two-year-old girl early Sunday while combing the rubble of an apartment building on the outskirts of the central city of Dnipro.
District governor Serhiy Lysak said five children were among 22 people injured in Saturday’s attack, which destroyed two apartment buildings.
On Sunday, the Russians launched more strikes with drones and cruise missiles, targeting multiple regions of the country, including the capital, Kiev.
The Ukrainian Air Force said that the country’s air defenses shot down three of the five self-explosive drones and four of the six cruise missiles launched.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, Yuriy Ikhnat, said two missiles hit a military air base in Kropivnytskyi, a city in the Kirovohrad region of central Ukraine. He did not report the damage they caused.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the army destroyed Ukrainian warplanes and ammunition stores in strikes on Ukrainian airports, but gave no other details.
The Russian military has reported a series of strikes in recent days on air defense batteries, air bases and warehouses of Ukrainian forces. The long-range strikes come as Ukraine prepares for a long-awaited counter-offensive in which it hopes to regain more ground.
In what is seen as part of operations to facilitate the planned counter-offensive, Ukrainian forces have pressed Russian forces in the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Moscow declared control last month after the war’s longest and bloodiest battle.
On the other hand, Russian groups fighting alongside the Ukrainian forces announced that they had launched new attacks in recent days on the Russian region of Belgorod, which borders Ukraine. One group, the Russian Volunteer Corps, posted a video on Sunday showing an alleged raid in the area.
The Associated Press has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the video.
The earlier attacks in Belgorod, which prompted Russian authorities to evacuate thousands of local residents, were viewed by some observers as part of Ukraine’s efforts to distract Moscow and expand its forces ahead of the planned counterattack.
Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov reported more Ukrainian shelling on the border town of Chebykino, which ignited several fires on Sunday.
In Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, regional leader Sergei Aksenov reported a Ukrainian drone attack on the city of Djankoy early Sunday. He claimed that five of the attacking drones were shot down and four others were trapped and forced to land, adding that there were no casualties.
Recent Russian raids on Ukrainian cities have raised new concerns about the safety of civilians after officials declared that nearly a quarter of the 4,800 air raid shelters they examined were closed or unfit for use.
In Kiev, 44% of 1,078 shelters have been found closed or unusable, Strategic Industries Minister Oleksandr Kamyshin said Sunday.
The official admissions came after news broke that a 33-year-old woman died in Kiev while waiting outside a closed shelter during a Russian missile strike on Thursday.
Prosecutors in the capital said four people were arrested as part of a criminal investigation into the woman’s death while she and others waited to enter a closed shelter. The security guard, who allegedly failed to unlock the doors, remained in custody. Three others, including a local official, were placed under house arrest.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Saturday that city authorities received “more than a thousand” complaints about closed, dilapidated or inadequate air raid shelters within one day of launching the online feedback service.


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