A field of winter wheat is pictured outside Bashtanka, Mykolaiv region, as Russia's attacks on Ukraine continue, Ukraine June 9, 2022.
A field of winter wheat is pictured outside Bashtanka, Mykolaiv region, as Russia's attacks on Ukraine continue, Ukraine June 9, 2022. Reuters / EDGAR SU

Russian missiles struck the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia far behind the frontlines on Thursday in an attack which Ukrainian officials said had left at least 12 people dead, including a small child.

The strike, which Ukraine said had also wounded dozens, came a day after a breakthrough in talks between Moscow and Kyiv to unblock Ukrainian grain exports and underscored how far the two countries remain from any kind of peace settlement despite progress in those negotiations.

"There are wounded and dead, among them a small child," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram messaging app. "What is this, if not an open act of terrorism?"

The Russian defence ministry, which denies targeting civilians, did not immediately comment on the strike. Russia, which launched what it called its "special military operation" against Ukraine on Feb. 24, says its aim is to degrade Ukraine's military infrastructure to protect its own security.

Vinnytsia lies about 200 km (125 miles) southwest of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and is far from the main frontlines in eastern and southern Ukraine in a conflict that the West and Ukraine call an unprovoked war of aggression.

The Russian strike hit the car park of the nine-storey "Yuvelirniy" office block at around 1050 (0750 GMT), Ukraine's State Emergency Service said.

It posted photographs showing grey smoke rising from the twisted remains of burnt-out cars and smouldering rubble nearby.

Video footage posted on Telegram by Oleksiy Goncharenko, a Ukrainian politician, showed thick black smoke billowing out of a tall building.


On the frontlines of the war hundreds of miles to the east, Ukraine said it had repelled attempted Russian ground assaults after Moscow focused its fire on and around two towns there which it views as spring-boards to taking control of bigger cities.

After its early attempts at lightning war failed, Russia switched to pursuing a campaign of attrition designed to wear Ukrainian forces down and minimise casualties on its own side while heavily shelling towns and cities it wants to capture.

Ukraine, with the help of recently acquired U.S. HIMARS mobile rocket systems, has begun to strike targets deep inside Russian-controlled territory and says it is destroying ammo dumps and degrading Russia's ability to wage war.

Daniil Bezsonov, a Russian-backed official in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, said on Thursday that the statelet's armed forces and Russia were focusing their fire in eastern Ukraine on the towns of Siversk and Soledar.

"Siversk is under our operational control which means we can strike the enemy wherever they are," he told the Solovyov Live online TV channel.

He made clear however that both towns were still held by Ukrainian forces however. The Russian plan, he said, was to seize the two towns and then move forward to attack the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk from the east.

The Ukrainian military, which reported Russian shelling and air strikes on Siversk and Kramatorsk, said it was holding the line on all fronts and that it was repelling all attempted assaults.

The town of Soledar, seen as a gateway to the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut and Kramatorsk, had been bombed too, the Ukrainian military said.

Britain's ministry of defence said it looked like Russian forces were struggling to make headway in eastern Ukraine as the war grinds towards the five-month mark because they were unable to marshal the necessary critical mass they needed to advance.

"In the Donbas, Russian forces continue to conduct artillery strikes across a broad front followed by, in some areas, probing assaults by small company and platoon-sized units," the ministry said in a statement.

"However, they have achieved no significant territorial advances over the last 72 hours and are in danger of losing any momentum built up following the capture of Lysychansk."