Rescue workers combed through the rubble of damaged buildings in the city of Pokrovsk in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, the day after Russian strikes killed at least seven people.
Pokrovsk sits just 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the eastern frontline, where Moscow says it is gaining ground and repelling Ukrainian attacks.
Two missiles — launched 40 minutes apart — damaged residential buildings, a hotel, catering establishments, shops, and administrative buildings on Monday, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk region’s military administration, said.
AFP correspondents on the ground saw rescuers evacuating survivors from the rubble of a five-story building, and carrying the wounded into ambulances.
Seven people died and 67 were wounded, including two children, according to Igor Klymenko, Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs.
Those killed included a high-ranking emergency official of Donetsk region, Klymenko said.
“We are resuming the demolition of rubble,” he said early Tuesday after the rescuers “were forced to suspend work for the night due to the high threat of repeated shelling.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that Moscow had struck a residential building, and shared a video on social media of civilians helping wounded people and rescuers clearing rubble from a building that had lost its top floor.
The footage also showed a second building that appeared heavily damaged.
The city had a pre-war population of around 60,000 people.
The city of Pokrovsk, Donetsk region. Donbas, from which Russia is trying to leave only broken and scorched stones. Two missile strikes. An ordinary residential building was hit. Unfortunately, there are victims. Rescuers and all necessary services are on the scene. The rescue of… pic.twitter.com/zsIA7dR6HR
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) August 7, 2023
Also on Monday, Russia said it had recently advanced three kilometers towards Kupiansk in northeastern Ukraine around 150 kilometers north of Pokrovsk and a few dozen kilometers from the Russian border.
Kupiansk and its surroundings in the Kharkiv region were retaken by Ukrainian forces in September, but Moscow has renewed its assault on the area.
“Over the past three days, the advance of Russian troops… amounted to 11 kilometers along the front and more than three kilometres deep into the enemy’s defense,” Moscow’s defense ministry said.
It said that it had “improved” its standing along the frontline and continued to repel Ukrainian counterattacks.
On Saturday, Russia struck a blood transfusion center in Kruglyakivka — near Kupiansk — with a “guided air bomb,” killing at least two people and wounding four, Kyiv said.
Two more people in Kruglyakivka died Monday when Russia attacked with “four guided aerial bombs,” according to Oleg Synegubov, governor of the Kharkiv region.
In mid-July, Ukraine said that it was in a “defensive position” in the Kupiansk area as the Russian army launched an offensive there.
Ukraine began its long-awaited counteroffensive in June but has made modest advances in the face of stiff resistance from Russian forces.
On the diplomatic front, Ukraine said Monday it was “satisfied” after a peace summit held in Saudi Arabia, to which Moscow was not invited.
Representatives from around 40 countries, including China, India, the United States, and Ukraine, took part in the weekend summit in Jeddah.
The initiative was greeted with scorn by Moscow on Tuesday.
“We have become eyewitnesses of yet another unsuccessful attempt by the US administration to pass off their wishes for reality. There was no diplomatic success in Jeddah,” said Russian ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, as quoted by state news agency RIA Novosti.
The diplomat said it was pointless to discuss the crisis in Ukraine without Russia’s participation.
“Does anyone still not understand that in such a situation it is impossible to achieve a specific result?” he said.