KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A Russian missile attack Friday on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hometown killed one policeman and wounded at least 73 people, including nine policemen, Ukrainian officials said. Another attack in the southern Kherson region killed three people.
The strikes were among multiple Russian attacks across the country overnight, officials said. Meanwhile, Moscow is trying to strengthen its position politically with local elections in the four regions it illegally annexed last year, even though it doesn’t fully control any of the four. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it does not recognize the “fake elections.”
The strikes came days after 16 people were killed in a Russian attack on a market in eastern Ukraine and drone debris was found in Romania. That sparked fears among local residents that the war could spread into the NATO-member country bordering Ukraine.
Ten buildings were damaged in the attack on Zelenskyy’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine on Friday. Nine policemen were among those wounded, according to Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine’s Interior Minister. Photos posted by Klymenko on Telegram showed a building on fire, burnt timbers and emergency services evacuating the wounded. By evening, the number of wounded rose to 73, according to the Interior Ministry.
Blinken’s visit signaled ongoing U.S. support with the announcement of an additional $1 billion in aid to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Russia is holding local elections in the part of the Kherson region it controls. Local elections are also being held in the Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions. Voting for federal and local legislators is also underway in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
In Kherson, local residents and Ukrainian activists say election poll workers have made house calls accompanied by armed soldiers.
Ukraine has dismissed the elections, calling on its allies to condemn Russia’s actions and urging them not to recognize any administration created as a result of the votes.
The war continued to raise difficult questions for other nations trying to manage the war’s fallout on food security, inflation and other matters.
Britain announced Friday it will host a global food security summit in November in response to Russia’s withdrawal from a Black Sea grain deal and attacks on Ukraine’s grain supply.
The announcement came as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrived in India for a Group of 20 summit, where he hopes to marshal international resources to counteract the war’s impact on the global food supply.
Sunak’s government said Royal Air Force aircraft will fly over the Black Sea as part of efforts to deter Russia from striking cargo ships transporting grain from Ukraine.
“We will use our intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to monitor Russian activity in the Black Sea, call out Russia if we see warning signs that they are preparing attacks on civilian shipping or infrastructure in the Black Sea, and attribute attacks to prevent false-flag claims that seek to deflect blame from Russia,” the U.K. government said.
Former British prime minister Boris Johnson in the meantime visited Ukraine on Friday and attended the Yalta European Strategy forum. In a video posted in Zelenskyy’s Telegram channel, Johnson was seen listening to the Ukraine leader’s speech along with Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, who now leads an international working group on sanctions against Moscow together with Zelenskyy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak.
Zelenskyy in his speech said that “for many in the world, Ukraine is not just a country in Europe that is defending itself against Russian aggression” — it is “now a personal moral choice” and a symbol of ”a standard of freedom in which people from different countries recognise their own standards.”
Associated Press writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.