The early evening strike, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said was fired from an S-300 missile system, is the latest amid an escalation in Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine in the past 10 days. Other major attacks in recent days struck Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa and other Ukrainian cities, killing and wounding dozens of civilians.
“Russia must feel — always feel — that no such strike will go without consequences for the terrorist state,” Zelensky wrote on Telegram after the strike on Pokrovsk. “We must ensure this with our strength, our own defense, and political capabilities.”
Earlier Saturday, Ukraine claimed to have hit the Saki air base in Russian-occupied Crimea. Russia has also accused Ukraine of carrying out strikes on the Russian border city of Belgorod, including an attack Dec. 30 that killed 25 people.
Just after the attack, the Russian Defense Ministry said its air defenses had intercepted many of the weapons but that “several rockets and cluster fragments” from a downed missile had hit the city.
Russia has also reported intercepting dozens of Ukrainian drones in recent days over Crimea, the peninsula Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
On Thursday, the White House announced that Russia has begun launching ballistic missiles it received from North Korea at Ukraine.
Anxiety has mounted in Kyiv in recent months as disagreements in Congress held up a much-needed roughly $60 billion U.S. aid package, which was tied to controversial border control policies. Lawmakers failed to come to any agreement ahead of their winter break. The package would have included key weaponry, including munitions for air defense systems that help Ukraine shoot down incoming Russian missiles and drones to avoid massive civilian casualties.
Pokrovsk is located in the eastern Donetsk region, parts of which are occupied by Russian forces. A Russian attack on the city in August killed nine people, wounded dozens of others, and destroyed an apartment block, hotel and restaurant.
Vadim Filashkin, the region’s governor, wrote on Telegram on Saturday that Russia “is trying to bring as much misery as possible to our land.”
Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets wrote on X that the assaults amount to evidence that Russian troops “continue to commit genocide against the Ukrainian people.”
“Their actions are aimed exclusively at killing the civilian population, in particular innocent children,” he wrote.
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