Russian strike kills at least 14 as Ukraine’s air defenses struggle again to protect cities

By Svitlana Vlasova, Sebastian Shukla and Christian Edwards, CNN

CNN  —  A Russian missile strike killed and injured more than 70 people in the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine – an attack that could have been prevented if Ukraine was provided with better air defenses, President Volodomyr Zelensky said.

At least 14 people were killed in the strike and 61 others were injured, including two children, Ukraine’s emergency services said. Rescue operations are underway as police search for survivors under the rubble.

Three missiles hit the outskirts of Chernihiv, north of the capital Kyiv, at about 9 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET) on Wednesday, damaging an eight-story building, a four-story building, a hospital and a higher education institute, Ukrainian officials said. CNN has geolocated the eight-story building as the Hotel Profspilkovyi.

Video from inside the hospital showed shattered glass strewn across hospital beds and doors blown off their hinges as staff evacuated the smoke-filled corridors. Another video showed civilians taking cover next to a bus stop as smoke rose in the distance and another missile struck the buildings.

Among those killed was 25-year-old police lieutenant Alina Mykolayets, who was fatally wounded by shrapnel. She had been at home on sick leave when Russia attacked, Chernihiv police said.

Russia’s strike comes after Zelensky has for months warned that Ukraine lacks the air defenses necessary to protect its skies.

“This would not have happened if Ukraine had received a sufficient number of air defense systems and if the world’s determination to counter Russian terror had been sufficient,” Zelensky said.

“The Ukrainian determination is sufficient. There must be equally sufficient determination from our partners and, as a result, sufficient support.”

More than 70 people were killed and injured in the Russian strike.

In an interview with PBS NewsHour that aired Monday, Zelensky said Ukraine had “ran out of missiles” to thwart a Russian airstrike that last week destroyed the biggest power plant in Kyiv region.

The strikes that destroyed the Trypilska power plant demonstrated Russia’s new tactics in its bid to blow apart Ukraine’s power grid, pummeling plants unprotected by air defenses with dozens of drones and missiles at a time.

In a bid to bolster Ukraine’s depleted military, Zelensky on Tuesday signed into law a key piece of legislation overhauling the country’s mobilization rules. The law requires all men between 18 and 60 to register with Ukraine’s military and to carry their registration documents on them at all times.

But the law did not contain provisions for demobilizing soldiers who have spent long periods fighting.

CNN’s Louis Mian and Darya Tarasova contributed reporting.

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