VINNYTSIA, Ukraine – Western officials accused their Russian counterparts of war crimes on Friday after Russian missiles struck a Ukrainian city far behind the frontlines in an attack Kyiv officials said killed at least 23 people.

Ukraine said Thursday’s strike on Vinnytsia, a city of 370,000 people about 125 miles southwest of Kyiv, had been carried out with Kalibr cruise missiles launched from a Russian submarine in the Black Sea.

The attack was the latest in a series of Russian strikes in recent weeks using long-range missiles on crowded buildings in cities far from the front, each killing dozens of people.

Russia, which denies targeting civilians, said the building it struck on Thursday was used to train troops. Ukraine said it was an office building housing a cultural center used by retired veterans.

Ukraine
A 4-year-old girl was just one of three children killed in Thursday’s attack.
EyePress News/Shutterstock

President Volodymyr Zelensky called Russia a terrorist state, urged more sanctions against the Kremlin and said the death toll in Vinnytsia could rise.

“Unfortunately, this is not the final number. Debris clearance continues. Dozens of people are reported missing. There are seriously injured (people) among those hospitalised,” he said in a video address.

Zelensky told an international conference aimed at prosecuting war crimes in Ukraine that the attack had been mounted on “an ordinary, peaceful city”.

“No other state in the world poses such a terrorist threat as Russia,” Zelensky said.

Ukraine
While Russia denies targeting civilians, the building they struck was housing a cultural center for retired veterans.
Getty Images

Ukraine’s state emergency service said three children, including a 4-year-old girl, were killed in Thursday’s attack. Another 71 people were hospitalised and 29 people were missing.

It posted a photograph on its Telegram channel of a toy kitten, a toy dog and flowers lying in the grass. “The little girl Lisa, killed by the Russians today, has become a ray of sunshine,” it said. Images of the girl, who had Down’s Syndrome, pushing a pram like one found in the debris, went viral online.

Authorities in the southern city of Mykolaiv, closer to the frontlines, reported fresh Russian strikes on Friday morning, which wounded at least two people.

“This time, they hit Mykolaiv around 7:50 a.m., knowing full well that there were already many people on the streets at that time. Real terrorists!” Mykolaiv mayor Oleksandr Senkevych posted on social media.

G20 MEETING

G20 finance
More than 40 countries agreed at a meeting of G20 finance ministers Thursday to organize investigations into Russia’s war crimes.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Vinnytsia attack overshadowed the start of a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Indonesia on Friday, where the top U.S. and Canadian representatives accused Russian officials in attendance of culpability in atrocities.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it called a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its neighbour. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen condemned Russia’s “brutal and unjust war” and said Russian finance officials shared responsibility. 

“By starting this war, Russia is solely responsible for negative spillovers to the global economy, particularly higher commodity prices,” she said.

Russian officials participating in the meeting were “adding to the horrific consequences of this war through their continued support of the Putin regime”, she added.

“You share responsibility for the innocent lives lost and the ongoing human and economic toll that the war is causing around the world,” she said, addressing the Russian officials.

Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told Russian officials at the meeting that she held them personally responsible for “war crimes”, a Western official told Reuters.

As Russia pressed its offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, the United States and more than 40 other countries agreed on Thursday to coordinate investigations into suspected war crimes. 



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