Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed ‘tangible’ revenge on Russia after a Russian attack in north Ukraine killed seven people and left hundreds injured.
A missile crashed into Chernihiv, about 90 miles north of Kyiv, just before midday Saturday, razing the main square as worshippers congregated at a church.
Ukrainian officials released grisly photographs and video of the scene, showing a university and a theatre charred and victims laying in pools of blood.
The youngest victim was a six-year-old named Sofia, Zelensky said in a video message early Sunday morning.
‘There are 144 wounded and injured, including 15 children. The missile just hit the centre of the city,’ the president said, though the casualty count has since risen to 148.
‘And this is on the feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, an Orthodox holiday.
‘I am sure: our soldiers will respond to Russia for this terrorist attack. The response will be tangible,’ he added.
Zelensky thanked the 140 rescuers as well as doctors, emergency services, military personnel and local officials ‘ who saved the lives of children, adults – everyone’.
The bombardment in Chernihiv, known for its regal gold-topped cathedral, was one of the first cities raided by Russian forces in the war more than a year ago.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that the Kremlin targeted a ‘gathering of Ukraine’s Armed Forces military specialists in combat drones’.
Drone manufacturers and aerial reconnaissance training schools had gathered at the Chernihiv Regional Academic Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater as part of the Liuti Ptashky (Angry Birds) demo day.
Just one day after the strike, US officials gave Netherlands and Denmark the all-clear to give F-16 warplanes to Ukraine in a long-sought announcement.
The 42 F-16 warplanes – powerful supersonic fighter jets – will greatly enhance Ukraine’s ground-landed air defences, Zelensky said.
’F-16s will certainly give new energy, confidence, and motivation to fighters and civilians. I’m sure it will deliver new results for Ukraine and the entire Europe,’ Zelensky said in a separate statement.
His Danish counterpart, Mark Rutte, didn’t give an exact timeframe of when the aircraft will be in Ukrainian hands.
The F-16s will not help immediately now with the war effort,’ he said in a sombre and sober statement.
‘It is anyway a long-term commitment from the Netherlands.’
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