Russian strike kills 45, including 6 children
In the deadliest attack to befall civilians in Ukraine since last spring, a Saturday strike on an apartment building in the town of Dnipro has left 45 dead – including several children – and many more injured, according to the Associated Press.
The building itself had been home to roughly 1,700 people, and around 400 of those residents are now without a place to live, with 72 units having been completely destroyed and an additional 236 sustaining irreparable damage.
Attack sparks tears, outrage
The devastating scene of a sizable apartment complex reduced, in significant part, to rubble drew a stream of locals, some of whom brought flowers, mementos, and candles as a way to remember those whose lives were lost.
Area resident Oleksandr Pohorielov was among those who paid homage to the victims, saying, “It's like coming to the cemetery to your family. It's a memory, to say a proper goodbye. To remain a human after all.”
As the Associated Press noted, a similarly heart-wrenching scenario played out in which a family's cat – seen perched near the former site of a window in a third-floor apartment – was unable to be rescued due to the instability of the overall structure.
Moving beyond sadness to anger and a determination to pursue justice, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy slammed the attack and pledged “to ensure that all Russian murderers, everyone who gives and executes orders on missile terror against our people, face legal sentences. And to ensure that they serve their punishment.”
The immediate aftermath of the apartment building attack also led to an unexpected departure among the top ranks of Zelenskyy's team of advisers, as The Hill reported.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a well-known and highly outspoken ally of Zelenskky, tendered his resignation Tuesday amid public outrage over his suggestion that the apartment building strike was partially the result of Ukrainian counterattacks on Russian missiles, a claim seen as erroneously minimizing the Kremlin's responsibility for the casualties suffered.
In a Telegram post discussing the situation, Arestovych declared that he had made “a serious mistake” in his characterization of what occurred, and he apologized to the victims, their families, and “everyone who was deeply hurt by my prematurely erroneous version of the reason for the Russian missile hitting a residential building.”
The now-former Zelenskyy adviser also took to Telegram to post an image of a handwritten letter, adding the caption, “Wrote a letter of resignation. I want to show an example of civilized behavior: a fundamental mistake, then resign.”
Arestovych's earlier statement about what may have caused the missile to hit the building was disclaimed by the Ukrainian Air Force, which tweeted that the country “does not have the means to shoot down” the Russian Kh-22 missile involved in the incident.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also took the occasion of Arestovych's remarks to try and shape the narrative, saying that Russian missiles “do not strike residential buildings” and pointing to the Ukrainian's statement as something of an official admission from that side that air defenses did produce the tragic results in Dnipro.
Russian mobilization rumored
The tumultuous events of the weekend come as reports continue to emerge of an impending round of Russian troop mobilization, as CNBC reports.
Experts at the Institute for the Study of War suggested that President Vladimir Putin could be poised to announce a second massive military mobilization before the week is over, despite his prior assurances to the contrary late last year.
On Friday, officials from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry revealed their belief that another mobilization is indeed on the cards and that Russia ultimately plans to build an army of 2 million troops.
“Preparations for the announcement of the next wave of mobilization in Russia are already actively underway. At the legislative level, changes are being made to the laws of the Russian Federation that regulate mobilization. Active training of training centers is also underway, those officials said.
Though the winter months have seen the conflict transform mainly into one of attrition, counteroffensives from both sides are expected to launch this spring, sparking further anticipation of a Russian move toward mobilization and global discussions about how best to respond.
Clearly expecting precisely such a development, Zelenskyy told attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday, “Mobilization of the world must outpace a next military mobilization of our joint enemy. The supplying of Ukraine with air defense systems must outpace Russia's next missile attacks. The supplies of Western tanks must outpace another invasion of Russian tanks.”