Ukraine's Chernihiv reeling after horrific Russian attack on city center

Chernihiv, Ukraine - A Russian missile strike on Ukraine's northern city of Chernihiv killed at least seven people and left more than 100 wounded on Saturday, authorities said, hours after President Vladimir Putin met Moscow's top army commanders.

The city center of Chernihiv was struck by Russian missiles that killed at least seven people and left over 100 more injured.
The city center of Chernihiv was struck by Russian missiles that killed at least seven people and left over 100 more injured.  © via REUTERS

Chernihiv, 90 miles north of Kyiv, has been largely spared from major attacks since the first months of Russia's invasion as fierce fighting rages in the east and south.

The Russian army marched through the city when it invaded Ukraine through Belarus in February 2022, before being repelled by Kyiv's forces.

The strike came after Putin held talks with top Russian generals in a rare trip to operational hub Rostov-on-Don and as his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, visited Sweden for talks with Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

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"As of 3:25 PM [8:25 AM EDT], 117 people were injured in the terrorist attack on the center of Chernihiv, seven of them died," Oleksandr Lomako, Chernihiv's acting mayor, said on Telegram.

Viacheslav Chaus, head of the Chernihiv region's military administration, said on Telegram that a child was among the dead.

Chernihiv residents describe terror

Chernihiv's main square was hit, with buildings and cars damaged or completely destroyed.
Chernihiv's main square was hit, with buildings and cars damaged or completely destroyed.  © via REUTERS

Zelensky said the attack hit "the center of the city" in a square that houses a "polytechnic university, a theater".

"An ordinary Saturday, which Russia turned into a day of pain and loss," he said after his arrival in Sweden.

He posted a video from the scene showing debris around a large Soviet-era building, with parked cars partially destroyed, smashed roofs and windows blown out.

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AFP reporters saw fire trucks outside the Taras Shevchenko Drama Theatre and Music Academy, which suffered some damage.

Some nearby buildings also sustained minor damaged.

"There was smoke, screams, people were running, crying, moaning. We ran to the shelter when everything happened and sat there," Iryna, a 24-year-old bartender in Chernihiv, told AFP.

"I'm still a little in shock, because this hasn't happened in a long time, everyone has relaxed a little. But now we will probably be going down to the shelter."

Putin in rare visit to military center

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rare visit to Rostov-on-Don, where the Kremlin's base of operations for the Ukraine war is located.
Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rare visit to Rostov-on-Don, where the Kremlin's base of operations for the Ukraine war is located.  © via REUTERS

Hours earlier, the Kremlin said Putin had travelled to the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Moscow's hub for its operations in Ukraine, to meet his top generals in a rare trip close to combat zones.

Moscow gave no details of when the meeting took place, but footage released by state media indicated it was at night.

Putin "listened to briefings by the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov, commanders of directions and other senior officers of the group", the Kremlin said.

A video published by the RIA Novosti news agency showed Putin, wearing a suit, stepping out of a jeep in the dark and being greeted with a handshake by Gerasimov, in military attire.

Gerasimov is seen leading Putin down a corridor decorated with portraits of Russian military men and of the president chairing a meeting with army chiefs.

Rostov-on-Don was also the scene of a dramatic armed mutiny by Wagner mercenaries in June, which saw them briefly take over the army HQ in Rostov, before halting their rebellion.

Cover photo: via REUTERS

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