Two Russian rocket attacks have hit a town in eastern Ukraine

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KIEV, Ukraine – Two Russian rocket attacks hit the center of the Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk in the eastern Donetsk region on Monday evening, killing at least five people and injuring two dozen others, Ukrainian officials said.

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According to Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, the attacks, aimed at the Ukrainian part of a partially Russian-occupied region, happened within 40 minutes. The attack damaged nine- and five-story buildings, apartment buildings, a hotel formerly occupied by foreign journalists, restaurants, shops and administrative buildings, he said.

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Interior Minister of Ukraine Ihor Klymenko said five people, including a local official from Ukraine’s State Emergency Service, were killed and 31 others injured in the attacks. Among the injured were 19 police officers, five rescuers and a child, Klymenko said.

A rescuer evacuates residents from a damaged apartment building after Russian rocket attacks in Pokrovsk, Donetsk region
This handout photo, taken and released by Ukraine’s emergency services on Aug. 7, 2023, shows a rescuer evacuating residents from a damaged residential building after Russian missiles struck in Pokrovsk, in the Donetsk region, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. PHOTO BY HANDOUT/UKRAINIAN EMERGENCY SERVICE /AFP via Getty Images

However, the Suspilne news site quoted the head of the city of Pokrovsk’s military administration, Serhiy Dobriak, as saying that seven people had been killed and 27 injured. The conflicting reports could not be immediately reconciled.

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In an online statement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to leave nothing but “broken and burnt stones” in eastern Ukraine. His remarks accompanied footage of a damaged five-story apartment building, one floor of which was partially destroyed.

The deadly attack came just a day after officials from around 40 countries gathered in Saudi Arabia to seek a peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized on Monday that the two-day talks in Jeddah had “not the slightest added value” because Moscow – unlike Kiev – had not been invited.

A statement by Russia’s foreign ministry reiterated previous assurances that Moscow was open to a diplomatic solution on its terms that would end the 17-month war and that it was ready to respond to serious proposals. The Kremlin’s demands include that Kiev recognize the annexation of four Ukrainian regions that Russian forces only partially control at the time, and Crimea, which Moscow captured in 2014.

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But Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, dismissed Moscow’s earlier demands, which would give Russia time to advance deeper into the parts of Ukraine it occupied. He said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Russian forces must completely withdraw from the occupied territories and Kiev will not compromise on this.

UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo attended the meeting in Jeddah via video, and UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the UN welcomes all diplomatic initiatives and “will continue to work towards any form of peace that can be reached on the UN Charter based, including the UN Charter on the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s security service announced on Monday that it had detained a suspected Russian informant who was gathering information about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s trip to the southern Mykolayiv region last month.

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It said the woman “collected data for an airstrike during Zelenskyy’s visit.”

The woman tried to find out Zelenskyy’s route, times and visits to the region. She was arrested trying to pass the information to the Russians, the statement said, without providing any evidence.

Zelensky has been a prime target for the Kremlin since the full-scale invasion of Russia in February 2022, when he refused to leave Kyiv as Moscow’s forces drew closer.

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He was one of Ukraine’s unexpected wartime assets, played a key role in boosting public morale, including a nightly video address, and became a recognizable face around the world while urging allies and others to help Ukraine.

According to the region’s governor, Oleksandr Prokudin, a nine-storey residential building in the city of Kherson was also hit by Russian shells on Monday, killing one person and wounding four others. He said Kherson experienced a “rough night” as the Russians “covered the central part of the city with fire.”

A 57-year-old woman was killed and four people injured in the Russian shelling of a village in the northeastern province of Kharkiv, Governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

— Jim Heintz reported from Tallinn, Estonia.

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