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Dead, Alive or Devastated After Russian Strike on Apartments – The New York Times – 15.01.23

Rescue workers were still digging through the ruins of a residential building in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro on Sunday, a day after a Russian missile attack. By Megan Specia and Nicole Tung reporting from Kyiv and Dnipro, Ukraine

More than 24 hours after a heavy-duty missile built to sink ships exploded in a dense Ukrainian cityscape of homes and shops, the lights of emergency workers played across the rubble on Sunday, in search of life.

Death was easy to find.

As smoke and dust rose into the Dnipro sky, a light dusting of snow began to accumulate on five victims who had been pulled from the rubble and laid out in body bags in a small grassy area next to the destroyed building. They were five of 30 confirmed killed in a Russian strike on a civilian neighborhood — 79 were injured — and at least 30 people remained unaccounted for.

Even some of those pulled from the debris that was once their homes seemed to have only an uncertain grasp on life.

“I have no words, I have no emotions, I feel nothing except a great emptiness inside,” one 23-year-old woman, Anastasiia Shvets, wrote on social media.

An image of Ms. Shvets from the scene of the attack struck a chord with Ukrainians across the country. It shows a young woman clutching a stuffed animal and a golden Christmas garland as she stands in the ruins and waits to be rescued.

Ms. Shvets somehow emerged with only a small head wound and bruises on her legs. But her parents, she wrote on a verified account on Instagram, were still missing. And her partner, who was serving in the Ukrainian military, was killed in action four months ago.

The strike on Saturday at an ordinary, nine-story residential building led to one of the largest losses of civilian lives far from the front line since the beginning of the war, and it prompted renewed calls for Moscow to be charged with war crimes. In an address to Ukrainians on Sunday night, President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was also critical to punish “those who grease the Russian propaganda machine.”

He offered a warning to Russian citizens in their own language: “Your cowardly silence, your attempt to ‘wait out’ what is happening will only end with those same terrorists coming after you one day.”

It is considered a war crime to deliberately or recklessly attack civilian populations or places where civilians would be likely to congregate, but Moscow has paid little heed to the international rules of war.

The assault on Dnipro was hardly the first time a Ukrainian population center far from the front lines — including the city itself — had been targeted since Russia invaded in February. Russian strikes on train stations, theaters, shopping malls and residential neighborhoods have led to significant loss of civilian life, as has the shelling of cities and towns near the front line.

The State of the War

  • Soledar: The Russian military and the Wagner Group, a private mercenary group, contradicted each other publicly about who should get credit for capturing the eastern town. Ukraine’s military, meanwhile, has rejected Russia’s victory claim, saying its troops were still fighting there.

  • Russia’s Military Reshuffle: Moscow has shaken up its military command in Ukraine again, demoting its top commander after just three months and replacing him with a Kremlin insider who helped orchestrate the ill-fated invasion.

  • Western Escalation: A cease-fire proposal seemingly aimed at splintering Western unity has instead been met with an escalation of military involvement by Ukraine’s allies.

  • New Equipment: The Western allies’ provision to Ukraine of infantry fighting vehicles signaled their support for new offensives. Now it looks likely that tanks will be added to the list of weapons being sent.

But images of the devastation in the central city of Dnipro provoked anger and despair among Ukrainians, and the attack appeared to be part of a return to old tactics.

In recent months, Moscow has turned the focus of its assault on infrastructure targets that provide power, heat and water, apparently hoping to demoralize the country. But for reasons that remain unclear, over the weekend, Russia launched dozens of missiles at cities across Ukraine in two waves of strikes that coincided with the Orthodox New Year and shattered the relative calm of recent days.

The missile that struck the building in Dnipro appeared to have been a Kh-22 cruise missile, also known as an X-22 missile, according to Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy minister of defense. She said it was one of five of them fired at Ukrainian territory that day.

The Soviet-era missiles weigh about 2,000 pounds, can be fired from long distances and are intended for anti-ship operations. They are also capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

For the full seven page article in pdf with more images, please click here:

Megan Specia is a correspondent on the International Desk in London, covering the United Kingdom and Ireland. She has been with The Times since 2016. @meganspecia

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on Jan. 16, 2023, Section A, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: Dnipro Mourns As Dozens Die In Russia Strike. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

A Russian strike on a nine-story apartment building in Dnipro, Ukraine, led to one of the largest losses of civilian lives far from the front line since the war’s start.CreditCredit...Nicole Tung for The New York Times

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