A strike on the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia kills at least 23 people, officials say.

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VINNYTSIA, Ukraine — A volley of Russian cruise missiles hit a shopping center, a dance studio and a wedding hall in central Ukraine on Thursday, killing at least 23 people and setting off a frantic search for dozens more lost in the rubble, in a latest strike to hit a civilian area far from the front lines.

Three children were among the dead, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said. The attack involved three Kalibr cruise missiles that struck the city at about 10:30 a.m. and were launched from a submarine in the Black Sea, his office said.

More than 70 people, including three children, were hospitalized after the missiles hit the center of Vinnytsia, a typically sleepy provincial capital some 200 miles from the coast, and left behind a harrowing scene of smoking ruins.

Grooms once carried their brides from the wedding hall, a well-known local landmark, and a building next door was the site of a photography studio where a continual stream of children had their pictures taken for school albums. Even hours after the strike, as firefighters doused water on the smoldering husks of overturned cars, bystanders stood by in shock.

The Ukrainian State Emergency Service said more than two dozen people remained unaccounted for as of late Thursday. It said a search effort was underway in the rubble in a part of town where people typically ran errands at the shopping center to buy household goods or attended celebrations at the wedding hall.

In his nightly address, Mr. Zelensky called on Ukraine’s allies to punish Russia for the attack. “This day once again proved that Russia must be officially recognized as a terrorist state,” he said.

If there had been a missile attack “in Dallas or Dresden, God forbid,” Mr. Zelensky said, “what would it be called? Wouldn’t it be called terrorism?”

More than 50 buildings were damaged in the attack, Viktor Vitovetsky, an emergency service official, said at a news conference on Thursday. Dozens of emergency crew workers were helping to clear the rubble and search for survivors, he said.

The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on the strike.

Vinnytsia, which had a prewar population of more than 370,000, lies west of the Dnipro River, hundreds of miles from the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the focus of Moscow’s military campaign in recent weeks. The area has not experienced significant attacks since early March, days after Russia’s invasion, when Russian cruise missiles struck an airport in the city.

Thursday’s attack on Vinnytsia — along with missile strikes on the town of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine that the City Council said damaged two school buildings — were the latest examples of Russia’s willingness to launch attacks on populated civilian areas.

In June, a missile struck a mall complex in Kremenchuk, a town south of Kyiv on the Dnipro River, killing 18 people. A nearby factory was a potential military target. In April, a Tochka-U ballistic missile hit a railroad station in Kramatorsk, killing 59 people including seven children. About 100 other people were wounded.

Some military analysts have said such strikes suggest Russia is running low on precision weaponry and is resorting to firing haphazardly at targets, callous to collateral deaths. Others see an intentional campaign of brutality intended to break Ukraine’s will to resist.

“The way war is fought in that part of the world has always been brutal,” Evelyn Farkas, director of the McCain Institute and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, said of the Russian tactics. “Violation of the human rights of civilians has always been part of war.”



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