A frantic search for survivors was under way in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Thursday after a Russian missile struck an apartment building, killing at least three people and injuring 20.
Ukrainian authorities said the Iskander-K tactical missile struck a residential area in the city of Kramatorsk at 9.45pm local time on Wednesday.
“At least eight apartment buildings were damaged. One of them was completely destroyed,” police said in a Facebook post. “People may remain under the rubble.”
The latest apparent attack on Ukrainian civilians by Putin’s forces follow the deaths of 44 people last month when a Russian missile hit an apartment building in Dnipro.
“This is not a replay of the past, it is the daily reality of our country - a country with absolute evil on its borders,” President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Telegram messaging app.
In a separate tweet, Mr Zelensky again pleaded with the West for more weaponry to defeat the Russian invaders.
“The only way to stop Russian terrorism is to defeat it. By tanks. Fighter jets. Long-range missiles,” he wrote.
In his latest video address. Mr Zelensky warned frontline battles in eastern Ukraine “has become tougher” as Russian forces push for gains ahead of the anniversary of its invasion on February 24.
“Definite increase has been noted in the offensive operations of the occupiers on the front in the east of our country. The situation has become tougher,” Mr Zelensky said.
“The enemy is trying to achieve at least something now to show that Russia has some chances on the anniversary of the invasion,” he added.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Russian forces would respond to the delivery of longer-range Western weapons to Kyiv by trying to push Ukrainian forces further away from its borders to create a safe buffer zone.
In an interview on state TV, Lavrov said everybody wanted the conflict in Ukraine - which Moscow calls a “special military operation” - to end, but that the West’s support for Kyiv was playing an important role in how Russia approached the campaign.
Washington is reportedly preparing a new £1.8billion package of military aid for Ukraine that is expected to include longer-range rockets for the first time, following pledges from western powers including UK, Germany and the US to send battle tanks.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov today said Moscow’s forces would respond to the delivery of longer-range western weapons by trying to push Ukrainian forces further away from its borders to create a safe buffer zone.
“We’re now seeking to push back Ukrainian army artillery to a distance that will not pose a threat to our territories,” he said. Ukraine has said it plans to retake all of its territory by force, including annexed Crimea.