A Russian attack Thursday on a village in northeastern Ukraine killed at least 51 people and injured another six, Ukrainian authorities reported.
Presidential chief of staff Andrii Yermak and Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said a shop and a cafe in the village of Hroza, in the Kharkiv region, were hit in the early afternoon. A 6-year-old boy was among those killed, Syniehubov said, and a child was also among the wounded.
It was not immediately clear whether Russian forces had shelled the village or had fired a missile.
“The rescuers continue to work on the site,” Synehubov said on the Telegram messaging app.
Officials posted footage of rescue workers clambering through smoldering rubble. Bodies lay alongside slabs of concrete and twisted metal.
Overnight, Ukraine’s military said Thursday it destroyed 24 of 29 drones launched by Russian forces directed at the Odesa, Mykolaiv and Kirohovrad regions.
The Hroza attack occurred as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in Spain lobbying Western allies at a summit of about 50 European leaders for more military assistance to thwart Russia’s invasion, now in its 20th month.
“The Russian terror should be stopped,” he said in a post on Telegram. “Now we are talking with European leaders, in particular, about strengthening our air defense, about strengthening our soldiers, about giving our country protection from terror.”
Russia targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure last winter, leading to widespread power outages, effectively an attempt to demoralize Ukrainians during the coldest and darkest months of the year. Over time, the infrastructure was restored, but now Ukraine fears more infrastructure attacks are in the offing as winter approaches.
“The main challenge that we have is to save unity in Europe,” Zelenskyy told reporters as he arrived for talks in Granada.
Zelenskyy said it is important for Ukraine to have a “defending shield for the winter” with Russia expected to carry out many attacks with missiles and Iranian drones.
He also cited what he said was 100% support from U.S. President Joe Biden as well as bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress, days after a short-term funding deal that excluded additional aid for Ukraine.
Biden called key Western allies on Tuesday to reassure them of continued American military support for Ukraine after a group of congressional Republicans forced the exclusion of immediate new funding for Kyiv.
The White House said Biden spoke with the leaders of Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, Britain, and of the European Union and NATO, along with the foreign minister of France.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Biden reaffirmed the strong commitment of the United States to supporting Ukraine as it defends itself “for as long as it takes, as did every other leader on the call.”
Kirby said the leaders discussed efforts to continue providing Ukraine with the ammunition and the weapons systems that it needs to defend itself and to continue strengthening Ukrainian air defenses as they prepare for more attacks on critical infrastructure. “Now, certainly, but also certainly in the winter months ahead,” Kirby said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military command said that it has sent about 1.1 million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine that American naval forces seized from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps last year as Tehran tried to transfer the ammunition to Houthi fighters in Yemen in violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution.