DNIPRO, Ukraine — The death toll of a weekend missile attack on an apartment building has risen to at least 30, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday. Another 30 people who could have been inside at the time of the strike are unaccounted for, he added. Rescue workers continued to sift through the gigantic pile of rubble outside the damaged building, and emergency personnel and rescue dogs searched for survivors inside the remains of the building and in the wreckage outside.
Kyiv renewed its calls for more advanced Western air defense systems after the strike, which Ukrainian officials said Russia carried out with a long-range missile that Ukraine’s military was not “capable of shooting down.” Ukraine’s armed forces said defensive weapons such as the Patriot missile system that the Pentagon is preparing to send could have been capable of intercepting such an attack.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
4. From our correspondents
Bloody Bakhmut siege poses risks for Ukraine: Ukrainian officials are having to make a difficult choice as the battle for control of Bakhmut intensifies in the east — exhausting personnel and resources just as Kyiv is in need of both for the counteroffensive it says it is planning to launch in the coming months, Paul Sonne and Isabelle Khurshudyan report.
Russian forces — chiefly made up of mercenaries and released convicts from the Wagner group — have attempted to capture Bakhmut for months, even though many military analysts view the city as having relatively little strategic significance to the broader battlefield. However, the city has become a potent political symbol on both sides, and U.S. officials have said that the area’s vast salt and gypsum mines are of interest to the Kremlin. As Russia has escalated its assault around the area in recent days, the savage fighting has underscored the high cost of the battle.
Now, Ukrainian officials are faced with a choice: Keep pouring troops, weapons and ammunition into the fight for Bakhmut or conserve those resources for the broader battle ahead, at the risk of losing the area to the Russians.
“For us, Bakhmut is the same corner of our country as Soledar, Kherson, Melitopol, Kharkiv or Dnipro. It is our native land. We fight and will fight for every meter of our land,” said Yuriy Skala, the commander of an intelligence battalion fighting in Bakhmut. “But we will fight smartly: If the circumstances require a tactical maneuver, the top military leadership will surely make the right conclusions and actions.”
Timsit and Ebel reported from London, Pannett from Sydney, and Javaid and Brasch from Washington.