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Russian strikes kill 26 people including children

Russian strikes kill 26 including children Photo FMT

Russian strikes battered cities across Ukraine on Friday, killing 26 people including five children, as Kyiv said preparations for a counter-offensive against Moscow’s forces were nearly complete.

One of the devastating new strikes targeted a residential building in the medieval Ukrainian city of Uman, where AFP journalists witnessed rescuers removing bodies from a demolished home.

After a series of Russian airstrikes that were intended to shut down Ukraine’s energy grid over the winter, there had been a break of about two weeks before the onslaught of nearly two dozen missiles.

Workers in Uman, where a yearly Hasidic pilgrimage takes place, discovered another child’s body amid the debris on Friday night.

“I want to see my children, they are under the rubble,” he said.

Rescuers were using cranes to search for survivors among the remains of the multi-storey housing block in the city of 80,000 inhabitants.

“I’ve seen a lot, but I haven’t lost my children before. Now I want to see my children, alive or dead,” Dmitry said.

Russian missiles also hit the central city of Dnipro, already grief-stricken after a January strike on a tower block that killed more than 40 people.

Authorities said the strikes in Dnipro killed a 31-year-old woman and her two-year-old daughter while they slept.

Authorities in the southern region of Kherson said on Friday evening that Russian forces shelled the village of Bilozerka, killing a 57-year-old woman and wounding another three people.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the latest barrage and vowed a response.

The country’s air defence system has been bolstered in recent months by the delivery of Western equipment crucial to the country’s war effort.

The new strikes came as Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said his country’s preparations to push back against entrenched Russian positions were almost complete.

According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday, NATO allies and partners have sent Ukraine 1,550 armored vehicles and 230 tanks to assist it organize units and reclaim territory from Russian forces.

Marat Khusnullin, the deputy prime minister of Russia, announced on Friday that he had visited the troubled city for the first time and promised that Moscow will reconstruct it.

Moscow has fostered its relationship with China in an effort to find partners to sustain its protracted war effort.

This week, the leaders of Ukraine and China spoke on the phone, with Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly supporting negotiations for peace.

Following the conversation between Xi and Zelensky on Wednesday, Russia alleged that Ukraine was undermining peace efforts.

Zelensky said Friday he had asked Xi to help bring back Ukrainian children deported by Russia.