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MOSCOW – Russia said on Sunday, February 4, that Ukraine killed at least 28 people, including nine women and a child, when its armed forces struck a bakery and restaurant in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine with Western-supplied rockets.
Russian-backed officials said that Ukraine struck the bakery in the city of Lysychansk at about 1230 GMT on Saturday with US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
Emergency workers worked through the night searching for survivors in the rubble of what remained of the shattered Adriatic Restaurant on Moskovska Street, where Russian officials said a bakery had been set up for civilians.
“The armed forces of Ukraine opened fire on a bakery in Lysychansk,” said Leonid Pasechnik, the Russian-installed head of the Luhansk region which is now controlled by Russian forces.
Pasechnik said the bakery was crowded with civilians when it was struck. Russia’s emergency ministry said 10 people had been pulled from the rubble alive.
But the ministry said four more people were in an “extremely grave condition” and that it was still searching for people.
Ukraine has not yet commented on the attack. Reuters was unable to immediately verify what weapons had been used in the attack.
Russia took control of swathes of eastern Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion in February 2022, triggering the biggest land war in Europe since World War Two.
Russia now controls around 18% of its neighbor, and considers the land it holds part of Russia. Ukraine and the West say they will never accept the annexation of that territory.
Russia’s foreign ministry condemned the Ukrainian attack, saying the West should think about why its financial support to Kyiv was being used to kill civilians.
“According to preliminary data, the strike was carried out using Western weapons,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
“EU citizens should know how their taxes are used – they are used to buy deadly weapons systems and send them to the Kyiv regime which uses them to kill civilians,” she added.
From the design and colour of the wrecked building and a sign matching file imagery of the area, Reuters was able to confirm the location of a video the Russian emergencies ministry shared. It matches a location on Google Maps identified as the Adriatic Restaurant on Moskovska Street, Lysychansk.
However, Reuters was unable to independently verify the date of the footage or of any other details of the report coming out of an area Russia annexed in July 2022 after months of heavy fighting.
Only about a tenth of Lysychansk’s pre-war population of 110,000 remain in the city, according to Ukrainian officials.
Though Ukraine took back a chunk of territory from Russian forces in 2022, its 2023 counter-offensive failed to make any significant dent in fortified Russian lines, and there is a debate among Kyiv’s Western backers on how Ukraine should fight on.
In the past month, Russian forces have grabbed 56 square miles (140 square kilometers) of Ukrainian territory, according to the Belfer Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School. – Rappler.com