At least 10 people have been killed and dozens more seriously wounded after Russian missiles pummelled the Ukrainian city of Kherson.
President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted photos of the carnage wrought by the shells, including burned out cars and bodies strewn across streets.
He wrote: ‘Social networks will most likely mark these photos as “sensitive content”. But this is not sensitive content – it is the real life of Ukraine and Ukrainians.
‘These are not military facilities … It is terror, it is killing for the sake of intimidation and pleasure.’
Yuriy Sobolevskyi, deputy chair of the regional council, said a missile landed next to a supermarket by the city’s Freedom Square.
‘There were civilians there, each of whom lived their own life, went about their own business,’ he said, noting a girl selling phone Sim cards, others unloading items from a truck, and passers-by.
There was no word from Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin says his troops are fighting fascism in Ukraine and resisting a Western threat to Russia’s security.
Russia denies targeting civilians despite countless barrages having destroyed hospitals, schools and residential blocks.
A pro-Moscow official said Ukrainian forces had launched the attack in a bid to blame the Russian military.
Vladimir Saldo, the region’s Russian-installed governor, said Kyiv had ordered troops to shell the city.
‘This is a disgusting provocation with the obvious aim of blaming the Russian armed forces,’ he wrote on Telegram.
Ukraine retook Kherson, the only regional capital Moscow had seized, in November.
Since then, Kyiv says Russian forces have heavily shelled the city from across the vast Dnipro River.
The Kremlin is now focused on holding its occupied areas in the south and east – around a fifth of Ukraine.
Presidential aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko said the Christmas Eve attack came from a Grad multiple rocket launcher.
Another aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, criticized those calling for Kyiv to seek peace talks with Russia, referencing Moscow’s relentless pounding of Ukraine’s power grid since October.
Ukrainian officials say Moscow has already fired over 1,000 rockets at the power grid, and have warned of a bitter winter with huge deficits of power and water pumping capacity, undermining central heating in most Ukrainian homes.
‘I’ll remind those who propose to take into account (Russian) “peace” initiatives: right now Russia is “negotiating”, killing Kherson residents, wiping out Bakhmut, destroying Kyiv/Odesa grids, torturing civilians in Melitopol,’ Podolyak wrote.
‘Russia wants to kill with impunity. Shall we allow it?’
Yanushevych had earlier shared a message from the city’s blood bank calling for urgent donations.
Kyiv was still recovering from Monday’s wave of missile strikes, which knocked out half the city’s power supply into the next day, according to Ukraine’s prime minister.
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