By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – A Russian missile strike killed seven people, including a six-year-old child, in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv as people walked to church for a religious holiday, officials say.
Some 117 people were injured in Saturday’s attack, according to the city’s acting mayor and authorities, including 12 children.
A central square, a university building, and a theatre were damaged in the history city, about 148 kilometers (92 miles) northeast of Kyiv, the capital, witnesses said.
Soon after, the city’s acting mayor Oleksandr Lomako announced that Chernihiv would observe three days of mourning for those killed in the strikes.
The days of mourning – which start Saturday, are “in connection with the terrorist attack of the Russian Federation,” he wrote.
It came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Sweden, where he confirmed the attack. The president accused Russia of turning an “ordinary Saturday” into “a day of pain and loss.” Moscow had no immediate comment, but it has denied deliberately targeting civilian sites.
“This is what a neighborhood with a terrorist state is; this is what we unite the whole world against. A Russian missile hit right in the center of the city, in our Chernihiv,” Zelensky wrote on the social media platform Telegram. “A square, the polytechnic university, a theater. An ordinary Saturday, which Russia turned into a day of pain and loss.”
It came as news emerged that the United States approved the transfer to Ukraine of American-made F-16 fighter planes from Denmark and the Netherlands when Ukrainian pilots are fully trained to operate them.
Ukraine seeks the jets to improve its air defenses amid growing frustration over deadly Russian strikes, including Saturday’s attack.
One of the buildings to be hit by the morning strikes in Chernihiv was the city’s theatre.
Taras Shevchenko Chernihiv Regional Academic Music and Drama Theatre was founded in 1926 and moved to its current site in 1959.
Shevchenko was a poet and painter who is highly revered in Ukraine. Many consider him not just the country’s national poet who breathed new life into the Ukrainian language but also a symbol of their independence.
The three-story theatre is located between Krasna Square and Bohdan Khmelnytskyi Garden Square. The building is made in a “classical style and resembles an ancient Greek temple,” its website explained.
Saturday’s reported attack drew international condemnation, with the United Nations speaking of a “heinous” strike on Chernihiv.
“I am extremely disturbed by the news of yet another Russian strike that hit shortly ago the heart of Chernihiv, in northern Ukraine, leaving dozens of civilians killed and injured, including children,” said Denise Brown, the current head of the U.N. in Ukraine.
“It is heinous to attack the main square of a large city in the morning while people are out walking, some going to the church to celebrate a religious day for many Ukrainians,” Brown added.
Brown condemned the “repeated pattern of Russian strikes on populated areas of Ukraine, causing deaths, massive destruction and soaring humanitarian needs.”
“Attacks directed against civilians or civilian objects are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law,” she said. “It must stop.”
The attack was likely among several topics related to the war in Ukraine discussed in Zelensky’s talks with the Swedish government.
Zelenskyy was to meet officials at Harpsund, the prime minister’s official summertime residence, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Stockholm. He was also to meet Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia at a palace in the area.
Sweden abandoned its longstanding policy of military nonalignment to support Ukraine with weapons and other aid in the war against Russia.
The government says Sweden has provided nearly $2 billion in military support to Ukraine, including Archer artillery units, Leopard 2 tanks, CV-90 infantry fighting vehicles, grenade launchers, anti-tank weapons, mine clearing equipment, and ammunition.
Sweden also seems to join NATO but is still waiting to join the Western alliance as NATO nations Hungary and Turkey are holding up the process.
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