Russia said its strikes on the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia targeted a Ukrainian military meeting, as rescuers on the ground continued to search for survivors from the attack that killed at least 23 civilians.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Friday that it was targeting a meeting between Ukrainian air force officials and foreign arms suppliers in Vinnytsia’s House of Officers, a building locals say is used for cultural and social events.
The meeting concerned the “transfer of the next batch of aircraft, and destructive weapons to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as the organization of repair for the Ukrainian aviation fleet,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Telegram.
“As a result of the strike, the participants of the meeting were destroyed,” the statement added.
Kyiv accuses Moscow of deliberately targeting civilians, with one image showing a 4-year-old girl in a stroller among the dead.
“Every day Russia destroys civilian population, kills Ukrainian children and directs rockets at civilian targets where there is nothing military. What is this if not an open act of terrorism? It is a killer state. A terrorist state,” Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Thursday.
The attack was also condemned by International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan, who called for a coordinated effort to bring perpetrators of war crimes to justice.
“The simple truth is that, as we speak, children, women and men, the young and the old, are living in terror,” the ICC prosecutor said as he opened a Ukraine accountability conference in The Hague.
The attack on Vinnytsia, a city of 370,000 people prior to February’s invasion, follows a wave of Russian missile attacks across Ukrainian cities in recent weeks.
Russia has repeatedly said these attacks were directed at military, not civilian, targets.