A Russian missile strike killed three and wounded at least 12 people Thursday in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, which Moscow claimed as its own following a sham vote to annex a fifth of Ukraine.
A major city on the Dniper River that has remained under Ukrainian control since the Russian invasion began, Zaporizhzhia is the regional capital of the province of the same name.
At least two Russian missiles struck apartment buildings in the city Thursday morning — one before dawn, Ukrainian authorities said.
Oleksandr Starukh, the provincial governor, said on the messaging app Telegram that nine of the wounded had been hospitalized, including two 4-year-old boys, and that rescue workers were still trying to free people from the rubble.
“The situation is difficult: there is much rubble, rescuers are trying to dismantle it as quickly as possible in order to save people in time,” he said.
While Russian forces took much of the province in the opening months of the conflict, Zaporizhzhia city has remained under Ukrainian control. The city served as a refuge from those fleeing Russian forces early in the war, taking in many refugees from the besieged port city of Mariupol.
Moscow has been evasive on the question of where the borders of its supposedly annexed provinces lie, at times indicating it has annexed the entirety of each of the four provinces. Despite this, Russian forces currently control only two-thirds of Zaporizhzhia province, and half of Donetsk province.
While the Russians control most of the other two provinces — Kherson and Luhansk — they are losing villages in each as Ukrainian forces advance.
The realities on the ground have not stopped Moscow from boasting that it will control the entirety of their claimed territory.
“They will be with Russia forever and they will be returned,” Kremlin flack Dmitry Peskov said of the annexed territory on Wednesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Wednesday that the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant — Europe’s largest atomic energy facility — was now formally Russia’s.
The plant — located some 40 miles downriver from Zaporizhzhia city in the town of Enerhodar — has been run by Ukrainian engineers under Russian guard since the plant was taken by Moscow’s forces in March.
The UN’s nuclear watchdog has expressed concern that the plant — which the West claims Russia is using as a shield for its frontline artillery pieces — will get caught in the crossfire as the war winds on.
With Post wires