Russian Missiles Hit Historic City In Central Ukraine, Killing 23 Civilians

Russian missiles struck the historic town of Vinnytsya in central Ukraine on July 14 in another air strike that left scores of civilians dead and injured.

Ukrainian authorities said at least 23 people, including three children, were killed in the midday attack on a city hundreds of kilometers from the front line, which came as EU officials convened in The Hague to discuss war crimes in Ukraine.

State Emergency Services said at least 52 people were injured. The city council in Vinnytsya said many of them were in serious or critical condition. At least 39 people remain unaccounted for.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said three children were among those killed and tweeted what he said was a photo of the body of one of the children. Most of the image of the body, pictured lying near a stroller, was obscured.

"This is terrorism," Kuleba said. "Deliberate murder of civilians to spread fear. Russia is a terrorist state and must be legally recognized as such."

Several buildings in the city center were damaged, according to rescuers, and 25 cars in a parking lot caught fire.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called the attack "an open act of terrorism.”

"Every day, Russia kills civilians, kills Ukrainian children, carries out missile attacks on the civilian facilities where there is no military target. What is this, if not an open act of terrorism?" Zelenskiy said on Telegram.

In an address later to EU officials at The Hague, Zelenskiy said there were eight rockets, two of which hit the center of the city. He led a moment of silence before urging European and International Criminal Court officials to open a special tribunal into Russia's invasion.

"I believe it is inevitable that the International Criminal Court will bring accountability to those guilty of crimes under its jurisdiction: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide."

The European Union strongly condemned the attack as an "atrocity" and said it is the "latest in a long series of brutal attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure."

"There can be no impunity for violations and crimes committed by the Russian forces and their political superiors," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic said in a statement.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the strikes on Vinnytsya, calling for those responsible to be held accountable.

Guterres is "appalled by today's missile attack against the city of Vinnytsya in central Ukraine," spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Vinnytsya, a city of 370,000 people, dates back to the Middle Ages, founded in 1363, according to the city’s website.

Russia denies deliberately attacking civilians, despite video evidence showing otherwise and the widespread destruction of Ukrainian cities.

RT editor in chief Margarita Simonyan in a tweet quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying the site was a housing unit for Ukrainian military officers.

Ukraine's Operational Command South said earlier on July 14 that its forces struck at least three Russian military sites in southern Ukraine as they intensified their counteroffensive in the region while Russia maintained its shelling of towns and cities in the east, south, and center of the country.

The command said Ukrainian forces had hit two military checkpoints and a landing pad in the second strike this week on Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region, a Russian-held area in the south. It said 13 Russian "occupiers" had been killed.

Ukraine said its earlier strike on Nova Kakhovka hit a Russian ammunition depot and killed 52 soldiers. The town’s Russia-installed authorities said at least seven civilians were killed in that assault.

Ukraine's attacks in the south followed an announcement by Kyiv that it was amassing hundreds of thousands of troops in the region to prepare for a major offensive to recapture territory there while Russian forces set their focus on capturing the Donbas region, which consists of the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Battlefield claims on either side of the conflict could not be independently verified.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Ukraine’s Donetsk regional military administration, said three civilians were killed and five injured in shelling in the Donetsk region, including two people in the town of Chasiv Yar.

Chasiv Yar, with a population of about 12,000 people, was the site of a Russian rocket attack on an apartment building on July 9 that killed 48, an assault Ukrainian officials called a war crime.

With reporting by RFE/RL's ’s Ukrainian Service, AP, AFP, and Reuters