Little Hope Of More Survivors

Ukraine saw little hope of pulling any more survivors from the rubble of an apartment block in the city of Dnipro on Sunday, a day after the building was hit during a major Russian missile attack, with dozens of people expected to have died.

The regional governor’s adviser, Natalia Babachenko, said 30 people were confirmed dead so far and more than 30 were in hospital, including 12 in a serious condition. Between 30 to 40 people could still be trapped under debris, she said.

Emergency workers said they had heard people screaming for help from underneath piles of debris from the nine-storey apartment block in the east-central city and were using moments of silence to help direct their efforts. Freezing temperatures added to rescuers’ concerns.

“The chances of saving people now are minimal,” Dnipro’s Mayor Borys Filatov told Reuters. I think the number of dead will be in the dozens.”

Ukraine’s Air Force said the apartment block was struck by a Russian Kh-22 missile, which is known to be inaccurate and that Ukraine lacks the air defences to shoot down. The Soviet-era missile was developed during the Cold War to destroy warships.

Russia fired two waves of missiles at Ukraine on Saturday, striking targets across the country as fighting raged on the battlefield in the eastern towns of Soledar and Bakhmut.

Moscow, which invaded last February, has been pounding Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October, causing sweeping blackouts and disruptions to central heating and running water.

Appeal For More Weapons

In his nightly address after the Dnipro strike, Zelenskiy called on Western allies to supply more weapons to end “Russian terror” and attacks on civilian targets.

Western powers are considering sending battle tanks to Kyiv and ahead of a meeting of Ukraine’s allies in Ramstein in Germany next Friday, where governments will announce their latest pledges of military support.

On Saturday, Britain followed France and Poland with promises of further weapons, saying it would send 14 of its Challenger 2 main battle tanks as well as other advanced artillery support in the coming weeks.

The first despatch of Western-made tanks to Ukraine is likely to be viewed by Moscow as escalation of the conflict. The Russian Embassy in London said the tanks would drag out the confrontation.

Russia’s invasion, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, has already killed thousands, displaced millions and turned many cities into rubble.

Soledar

In Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region - the focal point of Russia’s drive to capture more territory - Ukraine’s forces were battling around the small salt-mining town of Soledar.

Russian forces claimed to have taken control of the town, but Ukraine insisted on Sunday that its forces were battling to hold the town, with street fighting raging and Russian forces advancing from various directions.

“Put simply, THE BATTLE CONTINUES,” Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on the Telegram messaging app. “Everything else is unverified information.”

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said it was highly unlikely that Ukrainian forces still held positions within Soledar itself.

Reuters could not immediately verify the situation in the town.