More Russian missiles hit eastern and southern Ukraine as Kyiv slammed Turkey for not detaining a ship believed to be carrying stolen Ukrainian grain and lamented the resignation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson , one of its strongest allies in the fight against Kremlin aggression.
At least one person was killed when a Russian rocket hit Kramatorsk, the government’s main administrative center in the eastern region of Donetsk, seen as Russia’s next target after its forces seized the last town held by Kyiv in the neighboring region of Lugansk.
“One person has certainly been killed and six are injured. However, these numbers could change. Six buildings were damaged, including a hotel and a residential building,” Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Thursday. “This is an intentional attack on civilians… This will continue until we drive out (the Russians). I’m asking everyone to evacuate – this is temporary and we need to protect life at this time.
Donetsk officials have repeatedly urged tens of thousands who remain in Kramatorsk, Slovyansk, Bakhmut and other Kyiv-controlled towns in the region to leave urgently, ahead of what is expected to be an escalation of the blockade. artillery and potentially street fighting in the coming weeks. and months.
Sloviansk Mayor Vadym Lyakh said Russian shells hit his town again on Thursday, just days after several people were killed and injured in a strike at its central market.
Moscow has made the complete takeover of Luhansk and Donetsk – which together form the Donbass region – its main immediate target after its troops were pushed back from Kyiv, Kharkiv and other major cities in Ukraine after launching a full invasion of the country on February 24.
Shelling and missile fire also continued in southern Ukraine, where Russia is trying to consolidate control of parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions while pressuring Odessa and Mykolaiv, major port cities of the Black Sea which remain in government hands.
Ukrainian officials say Russia continues to target grain storage facilities in the south, where millions of tonnes of grain are trapped due to Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports, fueling fears of a global food crisis.
Farmers report that Russian shelling is burning dry fields, preventing them from harvesting and littering the land with unexploded ordnance that could make farming work in these areas unsafe for years to come.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry says it will summon Turkey’s ambassador to Kyiv to explain why his country has not detained a Russian-operated ship, the Zhibek Zholy, which is believed to be carrying stolen Ukrainian grain loaded into the port occupied Berdyansk.
“We regret that the Russian ship Zhibek Zholy, loaded with stolen Ukrainian grain, was allowed to leave the port of Karasu despite criminal evidence presented to the Turkish authorities,” said Oleh Nikolenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about what he called “unacceptable”. situation”.
Moscow denies stealing Ukrainian grain and says kyiv’s failure to clear its coastal waters and Western sanctions against Russia are to blame for any international food shortages.
Ukraine said its troops landed on Snake Island, a small but strategic outcrop in the Black Sea near Odessa, and raised the national flag before Russian missiles hit and severely damaged its dock. Moscow said the attack killed Ukrainian soldiers and forced others to abandon the island.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called Mr Johnson a “true friend” of his country, but said he believed Britain would not cut military and other aid to Kyiv after the prime minister’s resignation.
Mykhailo Podolyak, senior adviser to Mr Zelenskiy, praised Mr Johnson “for realizing the threat of the Russian monster and always being at the forefront of support for Ukraine”.
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of Mr Johnson: ‘He doesn’t like us, we don’t like him either.’