Zelenskiy condemns attack on blood transfusion centre as ‘war crime’; Moscow vows retaliation over strike on Russian tanker in Kerch Strait

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The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, says Russia has attacked a blood transfusion centre in the country as he condemned the fatal strike as a “war crime”. A separate attack struck a key factory, both incidents coming just hours after Kyiv hit a Russian tanker in the Kerch Strait. Russian forces struck the blood transfusion centre in the Kharkiv region of north-east Ukraine, Zelenskiy said, adding that “dead and wounded are reported”. A “guided air bomb” hit the centre in Kupiansk, a city a few dozen kilometres from the Russian border, he said.

Ukraine carried out a drone strike on a Russian tanker in the Kerch Strait, a day after one of Moscow’s warships was hit in the Black Sea. A video released by Ukrainian authorities appeared to show an unmanned sea drone striking the side of the 141-metre Russian-flagged Sig under the darkness of night. The strike was the second such naval attack in a 24-hour period, after the scuppering of a Russian landing ship on Friday outside the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. Maria Zakharova, Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, said Moscow would retaliate.

Russia says it has captured the settlement of Novoselivske in north-eastern Ukraine, where Kyiv has reported increased attacks. Footage from the Russian army showed Novoselivske completely destroyed, with white smoke billowing over crumbling buildings. “In the area of Kupiansk, as a result of the competent and professional actions of the military units of the western command, the settlement of Novoselivske was liberated,” the Russian defence ministry said. Ukrainian army spokesperson Ganna Malyar said Russian troops were aiming to draw Ukrainian resources to the east, as Ukraine pursues its counter-offensive in the south.

There are reports of explosions in several cities including Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia with air alerts. Ukraine is claiming Russia is firing ballistic and Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missiles into cities with some reports indicating that Russian forces are firing missiles from inside Belarusian territory. President Zelenskiy’s spokesperson Iuliia Mendel tweeted: “Right now the missile attack is at Kyiv, Vinnutsia, Zhytomyr, Cherkasy regions. But the alert is all over Ukraine.”

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has promised a fresh round of institutional “cleaning”, a reference to his ongoing campaign to show western partners that Kyiv has moved on from a history of deep-rooted graft. “Next week will be a continuation of our work on cleaning state institutions of those who tried to drag from the past all those old habits, old schemes that weakened Ukraine for a very long time, for decades,” he said. Zelenskiy gave no details about who might be a target.

Talks have started in Saudi Arabia to find a peaceful settlement to Russia’s war in Ukraine. It is hoped this weekend’s meeting of national security advisers and other senior officials from about 40 countries – but not Russia – will reach agreement on principles of how to end the conflict. Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office and his main envoy for the talks in Jeddah, said: “I expect that the conversation will be difficult, but behind us is truth, behind us goodness.”

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