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Zelensky issues fresh weapons plea after 7 killed in Russian attack on Zaporizhzhia region

At least 7 people, including children, were killed and at least 31 injured after Russia launched a missile strike on the town of Vilniansk in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region on Saturday, according to Ukrainian officials.

“[Today] is a day of mourning in Zaporizhzhia region for those killed in the enemy attack on Vilniansk,” Ivan Fedorov, the head of Zaporizhzhia regional military administration, said on Sunday. “There is unspeakable pain.”

Three children were among those killed and eight children were among the injured, Fedorov said.

The attack damaged critical infrastructure, as well as a retail store and residential buildings, he said Saturday. Ukraine’s Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said trade pavilions, households and vehicles also caught fire as a result.

Speaking to the National Police, one local resident who witnessed the strike said: “It was a weekend, everyone was having a rest … it wasn’t even late, it wasn’t dark, a missile hit.”

She continued: “Children died, children were injured. So did adults. For no reason. The children had a graduation party, they were graduating from school. They were planning their future.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered his condolences to those who lost loved ones in the attack and appealed for more long-range weapons, saying Ukraine needs “to strike with real long-range capability and to increase the number of advanced air defense systems in Ukraine.”

“I am grateful to all partners who are helping. And the decisions we need must be accelerated. Any delay in decisions in this war means losing human lives,” he wrote on Telegram.

Recent battlefield developments have seen Russia make slow but steady tactical gains along multiple fronts in Ukraine. Russia also launched a surprise cross-border assault in May.

In the Donetsk region, Russia has made advances towards Chasiv Yar as it attempts to capture the strategic hilltop town.

During its offensive Russia has been exploiting Ukraine’s weak spots including thinly stretched manpower and delays in western supplies.

As Zelensky repeats his appeals for more long-range weapons, these developments have again highlighted Ukraine’s reliance on ammunition and weapons from the United States and other allies.

Concerns have been raised over how long aid from the US will continue should former US President Donald Trump be reelected this November.

Thursday’s debate saw US President Joe Biden struggle, while Trump questioned continuing to fund Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

“We’re very concerned because we, more or less, understand what it means for Ukraine, [a] Biden presidency, and we really don’t know what it means for Ukraine, a Trump presidency. It can be very good, it can be very bad. We just don’t know. And that’s definitely concerning,” Goncharenko said.

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