KYIV, Ukraine — Russia pounded targets from practically one end of Ukraine to the other Thursday, including Kyiv, bombarding the city while the head of the United Nations was visiting in the boldest attack on the capital since Moscow’s forces retreated weeks ago.
Rescue officials stated that nearly a dozen were injured in the attack against Kyiv. One of them lost his leg, while others were stuck in rubble after two buildings were struck.
The bombardment came barely an hour after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a news conference with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who said Ukraine has become “an epicenter of unbearable heartache and pain.” A spokesperson said Guterres and his team were safe.
Learn More Inside Zelensky’s World
Several explosions were also reported in the country: in Polonne, the west; Chernihiv close to the Belarusian border; and Fastiv (a major railway hub south of the capital). Odesa mayor in south Ukraine said that missiles were stopped by air defenses.
Ukrainian authorities also reported intense Russian fire in the Donbas — the eastern industrial heartland that the Kremlin says is its main objective — and near Kharkiv, a northeastern city outside the Donbas that is seen as key to the offensive.
Ukrainian rebels hid in Mariupol (a ruined port town to the south) where they claimed that concentrated bombing had killed more and injured many people overnight. Authorities warned of the possibility of deadly diseases like cholera or dysentery if there is no safe water supply.
Following an explosion that occurred in Kyiv Ukraine, Thursday April 28th 2022, emergency personnel responded.
AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
A rocket attack on Zaporizhzhia left at least three victims. The incident occurred in Zaporizhzhia which is a key station for thousands of Ukrainians fleeing Mariupol. Shards of glass cut the boy’s leg to the bone.
Vadym Vodostoyev, the boy’s father, said: “It just takes one second and you’re left with nothing.”
Guterres was looking at destruction in towns around the capital which witnessed some of most terrible horrors during the second war on terror. After Russia’s withdrawal in April, despite unexpectedly strong resistance, evidence was discovered that there had been mass murders in Bucha.
Learn More Russians Are Putting Their Lives at Risk to Help Ukraine
“Wherever there is a war, the highest price is paid by civilians,” the U.N. chief lamented.
Separately, Ukraine’s prosecutor accused 10 Russian soldiers of being “involved in the torture of peaceful people” in Bucha. The General Prosecutor Iryna Venediktova didn’t say that her office was facing criminal charges and appealed for evidence from the public. Russia says it doesn’t target civilians.
During his nightly video address, Zelenskyy renewed his pledge to hold Russian soldiers accountable for crimes they commit and said about the 10 identified earlier Thursday: “Some of them may not, after all, live until a trial and fair punishment. Only one reason is this: The Russian brigade was transferred to Kharkiv. There they’ll receive retribution from our military.”
In the attack on Kyiv, explosions shook the city and flames poured out of windows in at least two buildings — including a residential one — in the capital, which has been relatively unscathed in recent weeks. The attack on Kyiv left 10 wounded according to Ukrainian emergency service, sending plumes of smoke over the area.
The explosions in northwestern Kyiv’s Shevchenkivsky district came as residents have been increasingly returning to the city. Many people are enjoying spring, as cafes and other shops have reopened.
The distance between Guterres and the attacker was unclear.
This image was provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office. The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zienskyy and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres depart a news conference at their meeting in Kyiv (Ukraine), Thursday April 28th, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP
It has been hard to get a complete picture of the ongoing battle in the East because it is extremely difficult for journalists to travel around due airstrikes or artillery barrages. The conflict is in its third and final month.
Reporting from combat zones is also restricted by both the Russian-backed rebels and Ukraine.
Western officials say the Kremlin’s apparent goal is to take the Donbas by encircling and crushing Ukrainian forces from the north, south and east.
But so far, Russia’s troops and their allied separatist forces appear to have made only minor gains, taking several small towns as they try to advance in relatively small groups against staunch Ukrainian resistance.
Learn More The War Child is always a child of War
The failed attempt to storm Kyiv resulted in Russian military units being defeated and having to regroup and re-fit. Some analysts believe the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s delay in initiating a full-fledged offensive could reflect his desire to restrain from launching another failed attack, rather than rush into it and risk worsening domestic economic conditions.
Many believe Putin would like to have a huge victory in east. Victory Day is May 9th, one of Russia’s most prominent holidays, and it marks the destruction of Nazi Germany during World War II.
Russia is pressing its offensive and civilians are again the ones who bear the brunt.
“It’s not just scary. It’s when your stomach contracts from pain,” said Kharkiv resident Tatiana Pirogova. “When they shoot during the day, it’s still OK, but when the evening comes, I can’t describe how scary it is.”
Ukraine’s military said that Russian troops were subjecting several places in the Donbas to “intense fire” and that over the past 24 hours, Ukrainian forces had repelled six attacks in the region.
The regional governor stated that four civilians were killed by heavy shelling on residential areas in Luhansk, the Donbas region.
After an explosion at Kyiv in Ukraine, firefighters attempted to extinguish a flame.
AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
You could see smoke columns rising from different places in the Donetsk Region of the Donbas. Artillery and sirens can be heard off and on.
According to a U.S. defense official, many of the Russian soldiers who had been in Mariupol are now moving north. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the U.S. military assessment, didn’t have exact numbers but said a “significant number” of the roughly one dozen battalion tactical groups that were in the city were moving out.
Russian forces are making slow, incremental progress in the Donbas — gaining only several kilometers on any given day, the official said. As of Thursday, Russia had launched about 1,900 missiles into Ukraine – the vast majority fired from outside Ukraine’s borders. The majority of these are strikes against Mariupol or the Donbas.
In Mariupol, video posted online by Ukraine’s Azov Regiment inside the steel plant showed people combing through the rubble to remove the dead and help the wounded. According to the regiment, Russians attacked an underground hospital with its surgical room and an unspecified number killed. The video couldn’t be independently verified.
Mariupol still holds around 100,000 persons.
“Deadly epidemics may break out in the city due to the lack of centralized water supply and sewers,” the city council said on the messaging app Telegram. It reported bodies decaying under the rubble and a “catastrophic” shortage of drinking water and food.
Ukraine asked its allies for more military equipment in order to resist the Russians. U.S. President Joe Biden urged Congress to provide an additional $33 Billion for Ukraine.
—Jon Gambrell, Yuras Karmanau, Mstyslav Cernov in Kharkiv; Yesica Fisch, Sloviansk and other Associated Press staff contributed to the report
Here are more must-read stories from TIME