Deadly Russian rocket attack hits Eastern Ukraine; Kyiv criticizes Ottawa over turbine return
At least 15 killed after apartment building shelled in Ukraine's Donbas, officials say
Dozens of Ukrainian emergency workers laboured on Sunday to pull people out of the rubble after a Russian rocket attack smashed into apartment buildings in Eastern Ukraine, killing at least 15 people. More than 20 people were believed still trapped.
The strike late Saturday evening destroyed three buildings in a residential quarter of the city of Chasiv Yar, inhabited mostly by people who work in nearby factories.
On Sunday evening, rescuers were able to remove enough of the bricks and concrete to retrieve a man who had been trapped for almost 24 hours. Rescuers laid him on a stretcher, and he was quickly taken to hospital.
Ukraine's Emergency Services said the latest rescue brought to six the number of people dug out of the rubble. Earlier in the day, they made contact with three others still trapped alive beneath the ruins.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region that includes Chasiv Yar, said an estimated 24 people were believed still trapped, including a nine-year-old child.
Cranes and excavators worked alongside the rescue teams to clear away the ruins of one building, its sides completely shorn off by the impact of the strike. The rescuers kept on working in the rain despite the dangerous conditions. The thud of artillery on the nearby front line resonated just a few kilometres away, making some workers flinch and others run for cover.
Kyrylenko said the city of about 12,000 was hit by Uragan rockets, which are fired from truck-borne systems. Chasiv Yar is 20 kilometres southeast of Kramatorsk, a city that is a major target of Russian forces as they grind westward.
However, later Sunday, Viacheslav Boitsov, deputy chief of emergency service in the Donetsk region, told The Associated Press that four shells hit the neighbourhood and they were likely Iskander missiles.
Residents told The Associated Press they had heard at least three explosions and that, in addition to the deaths, many people were badly wounded in the blasts. A group of neighbours sat in the courtyard quietly discussing who was injured and who was still missing.
Saturday's attack was the latest in a series of strikes against civilian areas in the east, even as Russia repeatedly claims it is only hitting targets of military value in the war.
Twenty-one people were killed earlier this month when an apartment building and recreation area came under rocket fire in the southern Odesa region. In addition, at least 19 people died when a Russian missile hit a shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk in late June.
There was no comment on Chasiv Yar at a Russian Defence Ministry briefing on Sunday.
The Donetsk region is one of two provinces along with Luhansk that make up the Donbas region, where separatist rebels have fought Ukrainian forces since 2014. Last week, Russia captured the city of Lysychansk, the last major stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk.
Russian forces are raising "true hell" in the Donbas, despite assessments they were taking an operational pause, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said on Saturday.
After the seizure of Lysychansk, some analysts predicted that Moscow's troops would likely take some time to rearm and regroup.
But "so far there has been no operational pause announced by the enemy. He is still attacking and shelling our lands with the same intensity as before," Haidai said. He later said Ukrainian forces had destroyed some ammunition depots and barracks used by the Russians.
Moscow says ejecting the Ukrainian military out of the Donbas is central to what it calls its "special military operation" to ensure its own security, an offensive that has lasted for more than four months and which the West calls an unprovoked war.
Kyiv slams Ottawa over turbine return
The Ukrainian government is calling on Canada to reconsider its decision to allow the delivery of turbines from a Russia-Europe natural gas pipeline to Germany, saying it sets a "dangerous precedent" when it comes to sanctions against the Russian regime.
Natural Services Canada Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced on social media on Saturday that turbines from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline — which supplies natural gas from Russia to Germany — that had been sent to Montreal for scheduled repairs would be allowed to be returned.
Back in June, Siemens Energy said Canadian sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine meant the company couldn't return the turbines.
In his recent announcement, Wilkinson said turbine maker Siemens Canada would be granted a "time-limited and revocable permit" to return the equipment — essentially giving it an exemption.
He said delivery was necessary to support "Europe's ability to access reliable and affordable energy" as it tries to transition away from reliance on Russian oil and gas. The government says it plans to return six turbines.
Germany, which is Europe's largest economy, warned last month it was in a crisis over Russia's decision to cut the amount of gas flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline by 60 per cent.
In a statement on Sunday, Ukraine's Foreign Affairs Ministry and Energy Ministry expressed their "deep disappointment" with Canada's decision.
"This dangerous precedent violates international solidarity, goes against the principle of the rule of law and will have only one consequence: It will strengthen Moscow's sense of impunity," it read.
Three Conservative MPs also issued a statement on Sunday saying that allowing the equipment's return undermines the sanctions Canada has imposed on Russia at a time when it should be stepping up as an alternative provider of gas to Europe instead.
"Allowing the return of the gas turbine sets a dangerous precedent of folding to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's blackmail of Europe, and will negatively impact Canada's standing on the world stage," reads a joint statement by MPs Michael Chong, James Bezan and Pierre Paul-Hus.
With files from The Canadian Press