Ukraine calls off search for survivors in Dnipro strike that killed at least 44 people

The final death toll from a weekend Russian missile strike on an apartment building in southeastern Ukraine reached 44, officials said Tuesday, as the body of another child was pulled from the wreckage.

The strike in the city of Dnipro was the war’s deadliest attack on civilians at one location since last spring.

Those killed in the Saturday afternoon strike included five children, and 79 people were injured, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office. With the search for survivors called off, the final toll included two dozen people initially listed as missing at the multi-storey building, which housed about 1,700, he said.

Emergency crews cleared some nine metric tonnes of rubble during a non-stop search and rescue operation, the Dnipro City Council said. Some 400 people lost their homes, with 72 apartments completely ruined and another 236 damaged beyond repair, it added.

The latest deadly Russian strike on a civilian target in the almost 11-month war triggered outrage. It also prompted the surprise resignation on Tuesday of a Ukrainian presidential adviser, who said the Russian missile exploded and fell after the Ukrainian air defence system shot it down, a version of events that would take some of the blame off Russian forces.

Mykhailo Korenovskyi, a Ukrainian boxing coach and father of two, was killed during the Russian missile attack in Dnipro. Pallbearers are shown carrying his coffin during a funeral in the city on Tuesday. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

Oleksii Arestovich’s comments in a Saturday-night interview caused an outcry. He said as he quit that his remarks were “a fundamental mistake.” Ukraine’s air force had stressed that the country’s military did not possess a system capable of downing Russia’s Kh-22 missiles, which it said was the type that hit the apartment building.

“Since the beginning of Russia’s military aggression, more than 210 missiles of this type have been launched on the territory of Ukraine. Not one was shot down by means of anti-aircraft defence,” the air force said Saturday.

Dnipro strike should be part of ICC probe: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to bring those responsible for the strike to justice, saying it’s “a fundamental task” for Ukraine and its Western allies.

“This strike at Dnipro, as well as other similar strikes, falls, in particular, under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court,” he said in a video address late Monday.

Workers drill and work on the floor inside a concrete building.
Builders work on the renovation in an apartment block that was partially destroyed by shelling in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Tuesday. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.K. Defence Ministry said Tuesday that the weekend barrage of long-range missiles, the first of its kind in two weeks, targeted Ukraine’s power grid.

The ministry noted that the Kh-22 “is notoriously inaccurate when used against ground targets, as its radar guidance system is poor at differentiating targets in urban areas,” suggesting that might have been a factor in the deaths in Dnipro.

Similar missiles were used in other incidents that caused high civilian casualties, it said, including a strike on a shopping mall in Ukraine’s central city of Kremenchuk last summer that officials said killed more than 20 people.

The deadliest attack involving civilians before Saturday was an April 9, 2022, strike on a train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk that left at least 52 people dead, according to The Associated Press-Frontline War Crimes Watch project.

Such incidents have helped stiffen international support for Ukraine as it battles to fend off the Kremlin’s invasion. The winter has brought a slowdown in fighting, but military analysts say a new push by both sides is likely once the weather improves.

As It Happens6:24He was driving home when a missile hit Dnipro, Ukraine. So he got out and helped

Vasyl Pidluzhnyi was driving home from work in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro and chatting with his wife on the phone when he heard a loud explosion, followed by a massive cloud of thick black smoke from an apartment building about a kilometre away. He told As It Happens host Nil Köksal what happened next.

Russia preparing to mobilize more troops

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that the country’s military would increase its readiness from the current 1.15 million to 1.5 million from this year to 2026.

As part of the buildup, the military will form an army corps in the northwestern region of Karelia, near Finland, as well as three new motorized infantry and two airborne divisions. The military will also beef up seven existing motorized infantry brigades into divisions.

A man walks through on snowy ground in a parking lot with a mural on the side of a building shown in the background.
A pedestrian on Moscow on Tuesday walks past a mural depicting a Russian general and a cadet with a slogan reading, ‘There is such a profession — to defend the homeland.’ (AFP via Getty Images)

That announcement came a day after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and other U.S. officials met in Kyiv with Zelenskyy. They reiterated Washington’s “strong and steadfast commitment to Ukraine,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Monday visited Ukraine troops who are training at a military base in Germany under U.S. commanders. More than 600 Ukrainian troops began the expanded training program at the camp the previous day.

“This is one of those moments in time where if you want to make a difference, this is it,” Milley told commanders.

Germany, meanwhile, has so far not come to a conclusion on authorizing the delivery of domestically produced Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine.

The tanks, which are a workhorse for armies across Europe, are widely seen as the only plausible option available in sufficient numbers to give Ukraine troops the mobile firepower to drive Russian troops out decisively.

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