Ukraine live briefing: Kyiv accuses Moscow of targeting emergency workers

Rescuers work at the site of a building in Pokrovsk, Ukraine, that was destroyed in a Russian missile strike this week. (Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters)

Officials including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of targeting emergency workers by launching missiles at residential areas to lure rescuers before hitting the same spot with a second strike. “This is a deliberate decision of the terrorists to cause the greatest pain and damage,” he said in his nightly address.

Zelensky said Russia will “bear maximum responsibility” for the pair of missile strikes that killed at least nine people, including one rescue worker, and injured more than 80 in the Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk this week. The attacks, in the city’s center, came within 40 minutes of each other.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

The Russian strikes on Pokrovsk damaged 12 high-rise buildings, including shops, an office and a hotel, Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram. He said the injured included two children, born in 2006 and 2012; 31 policemen; seven employees of the State Emergency Service; and four military personnel. Photos posted on Telegram showed severely damaged buildings with blown-out windows and obliterated roofs.

The police were “putting their efforts into rescuing people after the first strike,” Ivan Vyhivskyi, chief of Ukraine’s National Police, said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. “[Police personnel] knew that under the rubble were the injured. … And the enemy deliberately struck the second time,” he said.

At least five others were killed in recent attacks on Ukraine, officials said, including three in the Kharkiv region, one person in Kherson and another in the southern city of Nikopol. Several private homes and farm buildings were damaged in Nikopol, Ukraine’s operational armed forces said, and photos showed building debris scattered on the ground.

Russian forces shot down two drones in the Moscow region, the country’s Defense Ministry said early Wednesday. It accused Ukraine of trying to carry out a terrorist attack using the unmanned aerial vehicles. There were no casualties or damage, the ministry said.

Ukrainian forces attempted to cross the Dnieper River by boat, the Russia-appointed head of the occupied Kherson region said Tuesday on Telegram. In the post, he said Russian forces thwarted the landing attempts and remained in control of the bank — which British officials say marks the limit of Russian-controlled territory in the Kherson region. The Washington Post could not immediately verify that claim.

A massive Russian military storage site has been stripped of many of its Soviet-era tanks and armored vehicles that were there before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, according to the Moscow Times. The independent outlet analyzed satellite imagery that showed about 3,840 tanks or vehicles at the Vagzhanovo military equipment depot in the autumn of 2021. In November 2022, only about 2,600 remained, it reported.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia’s offer to provide free grain to African countries was “laughable.” The remarks, which came during an interview with the BBC, were in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to deliver up to 50,000 metric tons of free wheat to at least a half-dozen African countries after Moscow’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal threatened to worsen a food shortage on the continent. “The Black Sea Grain Initiative delivered 20 million tons to lower- and middle-income countries,” Blinken said, calling the Russian proposal a “drop in the bucket of what countries were getting.”

New sanctions from Britain target companies and individuals accused of supplying militarily significant components to Russia. Individuals and entities in Belarus, Iran, Turkey, Slovakia and Switzerland are among those affected. “Today’s landmark sanctions will further diminish Russia’s arsenal and close the net on supply chains propping up Putin’s now struggling defense industry,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

Poland will deploy an additional 1,000 troops to the country’s border with Belarus, Polish media reported. Tensions between Warsaw and the Russian ally have risen considerably in recent months, after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko offered safe harbor to Wagner Group fighters and joked that they were itching to invade Poland.

Elite, well-connected Russians are sidestepping sanctions and sparking protests: Dozens of Russians connected to Putin or the Russian military are still welcome in the European Union despite sanctions meant to isolate Russia. That privilege is drawing criticism from politicians and antiwar activists, Francesca Ebel reports. An Olympic gold medal-winning Russian pole vaulter with close ties to Putin is living in a luxurious residence worth millions in Spain’s Canary Islands. A daughter and son-in-law of the head of a weapons company continue to live in Prague, where the family owns numerous properties and luxury vehicles.

“Representatives of the antiwar opposition, who are persecuted in Russia, have difficulty getting the opportunity to move to the West,” an exiled Russian businessman and Putin critic based in London said. “While representatives of Putin’s elite, even relatives of war criminals who have acquired European residence permits in advance, live well in the West and spend money stolen in Russia there.”

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