on Saturday 10 February, 2024

Russian drone attack kills seven in Ukraine's second city Kharkiv

The attack saw 15 houses go up in flames (SERGEY BOBOK)
by : AFP

A Russian drone attack on a petrol station in Ukraine's second city Kharkiv on Saturday killed seven people, including three children, and destroyed nearly half a street, local authorities said.

"A whole family of 5 people died in a fire in a private house: a husband and wife and their three children (seven-year-old, four-year-old and seven-month-old boys)," Kharkiv regional governor Oleg Synegubov said on the Telegram social network.

He said the woman and boys had sought shelter in the bathroom while the man's body was found in a passage of the house. One child was missing, he said.

"In another house, a 66-year-old man and his 65-year-old wife were killed," he added.

The attack with Iranian-made Shahed drones sprayed nearby homes with burning fuel, forcing at least 50 people to evacuate, Kharkiv mayor Igor Terekhov said earlier.

"The enemy's Shaheds hit a petrol station, causing burning fuel to spill out burning 15 homes -- or half the street," he said.

Kharkiv regional prosecutor Oleksandr Filachkov said three drones hit Kharkiv's Nemyshlyanskyi district.

"As a result, an object of critical infrastructure was destroyed. There was a large amount of fuel, which is why the consequences of the fire were so terrible," he said, referring to the petrol station.

Saturday's strike followed a string of night-time attacks in Kharkiv and a village east of the regional capital.

Ukrainian authorities said Russia had launched 31 attack drones overnight on the eastern Kharkiv and southern Odesa regions of which 23 had been shot down.

NATO meanwhile called on Europe to increase its arms production to support Ukraine and prevent "potentially decades of confrontation" with Moscow, ahead of a key meeting of defence ministers in Brussels and the war's second anniversary.

The alliance's secretary general Jens Stoltenberg insisted that "we need to reconstitute and expand our industrial base faster, to increase deliveries to Ukraine and refill our own stocks."

- Calls for more aid -

"This means shifting from slow peacetime to high-tempo conflict production," he told the German Sunday daily Welt am Sonntag.

Western leaders have also called for greater assistance. Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Joe Biden urged US lawmakers Friday to approve a long-delayed military aid package for Ukraine, warning that Kyiv could not hold off Russia's invasion without it.

"The failure of the United States' Congress in not supporting Ukraine is close to criminal neglect," Bidensaid as he hosted Scholz in the Oval Office on Friday.

Stoltenberg said: "There is no imminent military threat against any ally. At the same time, we hear regular threats from the Kremlin against NATO countries."

NATO defence ministers will meet in Brussels on Thursday, one week ahead of the second anniversary of Russia's offensive in Ukraine. A meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group will be a key feature of the talks.