As firefighters raced to pull people from the rubble and flames lit up the night sky, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine denounced a Russian missile strike on a residential neighborhood in Kharkiv on Wednesday night as a “vile and cynical attack on civilians.”
The attack, he said, was the latest evidence that Russia, struggling on the battlefield in the east and south of the country, was targeting civilians to advance its ultimate goal of destroying the Ukrainian state.
Ukrainian officials said at least seven civilians were killed and another 16 wounded, including an 11-year-old child.
Natalia Popova, an adviser to the head of the Kharkiv Regional Council, told the Ukrainian news media that the victims might have included people with hearing impairments. They might not have heard the wail of the alarm warning of the incoming missile and might not be able to hear the calls of rescuers searching for survivor.
Only hours after firefighters had extinguished the blaze after the strike in the Saltivsky district, another Russian missile struck a building in the Slobidsky district as dawn broke on Thursday.
Of that strike on Thursday, “as of now, 18 people have been injured; two of them are children,” Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv military administration, said in a statement on Thursday morning. “One person was killed.”
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, has been bombarded by a nearly constant stream of incoming artillery, rockets and missiles over the past six months. Early in the war, Russian forces tried to surround and capture the city, but failed and were eventually forced back by Ukrainian forces.
Russia’s eastern offensive remains stalled, making no significant progress in six weeks, and Moscow has redeployed thousands of soldiers to the south to defend against a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Still, Ukrainian and Western military analysts say, the Kremlin has never given up on its goal of capturing Kharkiv, which is 25 miles from the Russian border. Lacking the ground forces to mount a sustained offensive, it has sought to pummel the city into submission.
Last week, the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office reported that more than 1,000 civilians had been killed and twice as many had been wounded in Russian missile strikes, shelling and other assaults. Those killed included 50 children.
“When you hear about Kharkiv’s pain, it hurts again,” Mr. Zelensky said in a statement on his Telegram channel, posting a video of the aftermath of the strike.
Earlier Wednesday, the city’s mayor, Ihor Terekhov, said that the city’s ability to function despite the Russian attacks was one reason that Moscow continued to try to bring its residents to their knees. The attacks had picked up in recent days, in what the mayor said was a sign of Russian frustration over the city’s unwillingness to bend.
“Today, Russian troops shell Kharkiv with such hatred, with such aggressiveness, such cynical destruction of the city occurs because Kharkiv does not give up, Kharkiv is a Ukrainian city that continues to live,” he said. “They purposefully destroy the infrastructure to make Kharkiv residents freeze during the heating season. Our task is to withstand.”