KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Two Russian missile strikes hit the city center of the Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk in the eastern Donetsk region Monday evening, killing at least five people and wounding two dozen more, Ukrainian officials said.
The strikes, which targeted the Ukrainian portion of a region partially occupied by Russia, occurred within 40 minutes of each other, according to Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko. The attack damaged nine- and five-story buildings, residential houses, a hotel where foreign journalists used to stay, dining establishments, shops and administrative buildings, he said.
Ukraine’s Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said five people, including a local official of Ukraine’s State Emergency Service, were killed and 31 more were wounded by the strikes. Nineteen policemen, five rescuers and one child were among the wounded, Klymenko said.
The Suspilne news site, however, cited head of the Pokrovsk City Military Administration Serhiy Dobriak as saying that seven people were killed and 27 were wounded. The conflicting reports could not be immediately reconciled.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in an online statement accused Russia of trying to leave nothing but “broken and scorched stones” in eastern Ukraine. His remarks accompanied footage of a damaged, five-story residential building with one floor partially destroyed.
The deadly attack came just a day after officials from around 40 countries gathered in Saudi Arabia to find a peaceful settlement for the war in Ukraine. Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday denounced the two-day talks in Jeddah as not having “the slightest added value” because Moscow — unlike Kyiv — wasn’t invited.
A statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry repeated previous assurances that Moscow is open to a diplomatic solution on its terms that would end the 17-month-old war, and that it is ready to respond to serious proposals. The Kremlin’s demands include Kyiv recognizing its annexation of four Ukrainian regions, which Russian forces at this point only partially control, and Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014.
But Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, ruled out Moscow’s previous demands that would give Russia time to dig in deeper in the parts of Ukraine it has occupied. He said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Russian forces must fully withdraw from the occupied areas and there would be no compromise by Kyiv on that.
U.N. political chief Rosemary DiCarlo participated in the Jeddah meeting by video, and U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the United Nations welcomes all diplomatic initiatives and wants “to keep pushing forward towards any form of a peace that is based on the U.N. Charter, including on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Security Service announced Monday it had detained an alleged Russian informant who gathered intelligence about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s trip to the southern Mykolaiv region last month.
It claimed the woman “was collecting data for an airstrike during Zelenskyy’s visit.”
The woman attempted to establish Zelenskyy’s route, times and visits in the region. She was detained when she tried to pass the information to the Russians, the statement said, without providing evidence.
Zelenskyy has been a prime target for the Kremlin since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, when he refused to leave Kyiv as Moscow’s forces approached.
He has been one of Ukraine’s unexpected trump cards in the war, playing a key role in rallying public morale, including a nightly video address, and becoming a recognizable face across the world as he presses allies and others to help Ukraine.
Also on Monday, Russian shelling struck a nine-story residential building in the city of Kherson, killing one person and wounding four others, according to regional Gov. Oleksandr Prokudin. He said Kherson had endured a “tough night” as the Russians “covered the central part of the city with fire.”
A 57-year-old woman was killed and four people were wounded in the Russian shelling of a village in the northeastern Kharkiv province, Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said.
Jim Heintz reported from Tallinn, Estonia.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine