Ukraine: The death toll in the Dnieper explosion has reached 36, the Kremlin denies responsibility

Rescuers at the scene of a shelling attack on a residential building in Dnipro, Ukraine, on January 14, 2023 (AFP/vitalii matokha)

The death toll from Russia’s airstrike on a residential building in the Ukrainian city of Dnieper rose to 36 on Monday, and is expected to rise, one of the deadliest since the war began.

As usual, the Kremlin denied responsibility for the massacre and blamed the Ukrainian side. Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Russian president, recalled the “tragedy” that could be related to the shooting down of the Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile system.

In turn, about 48 hours after the strike, the head of the national police of Ukraine, Igor Klimenko, announced that after the second night of searches, 36 people, including two children, were found dead, and 75 people died, including 15 children. injured.

“The fate of the other 35 residents of the building is unknown,” according to Ukrainian regional governor Valentin Reznichenko, raising fears that the death toll could double.

Rescue efforts are still underway to find survivors under the smoldering rubble. In particular, a dog brigade has been deployed.

According to the governor, “39 people have been rescued” from the rubble since the start of rescue operations.

– He collapsed on her –

On Sunday afternoon, Roman Jouravksy was looking for his mother, who still lives there. “My mother hasn’t been found yet. But considering the possibility that five floors have collapsed on her…” he begins without breaking his voice.

The Kremlin took two days to react, with its spokesman denying that his country could carry out such a strike.

“The Russian armed forces are not bombing residential buildings or civilian infrastructure, they are bombing military facilities,” Peskov said, despite numerous bombings that have hit numerous non-military facilities since the beginning of the war, the February 24 invasion.

Map of the situation in Ukraine as of 8 a.m. GMT on January 16 (AFP /)

Map of the situation in Ukraine as of 8 a.m. GMT on January 16 (AFP /)

Russian President Vladimir Putin did not comment on the issue on Sunday, but said his war in Ukraine was in “positive dynamics”, days after Moscow claimed responsibility for seizing a small town in the east. .

The strike, which destroyed a residential building in the Dnieper, was carried out against the backdrop of Moscow’s regular and massive bombing campaign against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, which has plunged the population into darkness and cold since October. .

Faced with this rocket rain and the threat of a new attack by Russia, the Westerners have increased their military assistance to Ukraine. Since they don’t want to deploy heavy weapons there for a long time, they are now planning to send armored vehicles and tanks.

After the Dnieper strike, the US condemned “a new example of Russia’s merciless and brutal war against the Ukrainian people.”

Faced with promises of arms deliveries, particularly tank promises from the UK and Poland, the Kremlin has vowed to “fuel” this armored vehicle. “These tanks burn and will burn,” Dmitry Peskov told the press at a daily telephone briefing, again accusing the West of using Ukraine “to achieve anti-Russian goals.”

Encouraged and strengthened by increased military and financial aid, Ukrainian forces drove back the Russian army in the spring and fall, inflicting heavy blows on it.

However, Kyiv says it needs heavy tanks, light armor, long-range missile systems and air defenses to retake all the territory Moscow has occupied in eastern and southern Ukraine.

On Saturday, London announced the delivery of Challenger 2 armored vehicles to Kiev, which will be the first delivery of Western-made heavy tanks to Ukraine.

After heavy setbacks in the fall, Russia is trying to regain the initiative by bombing energy infrastructure and redoubled its efforts in the battle to take the eastern city of Bachmouth, which has been in the grip of a bloody battle since the summer.

– Heavy losses in Bachmut –

Moscow claimed victory last week, claiming to have taken the town of Soledar, north of Bakhmut. Today, this agglomeration with a mining economy, largely destroyed, had a population of about 10,000 before the war. Ukraine has refused to leave the city on the grounds that fighting continues.

In a press release, the Ukrainian army claimed that it had inflicted “heavy casualties” on Russian forces near Bakhmut and Avdiivka, another city in eastern Ukraine.

Elsewhere in the country, the Ukrainian presidency noted that three more civilians were killed as a result of Russian strikes in the Kherson region, partially occupied by Kyiv, in November.

Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is expected to be in Ukraine on Monday. In a tweet before his departure, he stressed that his organization would expand its presence in the country “to prevent a nuclear accident during the ongoing conflict.”

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