(THE HILL) – Russian strikes in the city of Zaporizhzhia killed at least 17 people and damaged dozens of buildings on Saturday night, according to Ukrainian officials.
Anatoliy Kurtev, secretary of Zaporizhzhia’s city council, wrote on Telegram that 40 people were injured by the blasts, which he said also damaged 50 high-rise buildings, four educational institutions and 20 other private-sector buildings.
“We urge citizens to refrain from staying and visiting places where emergency and rescue operations are ongoing, because there is a threat to the life and health of the civilian population,” Kurtev wrote, also calling Russia a “terrorist country.”
Zaporizhzhia remains under Ukrainian control but is located in a region Russia annexed earlier this month with three other regions in Ukraine’s east and south.
The city has faced Russian strikes in recent days, including one on Monday when Russia fired S-300 anti-aircraft missiles at the city and two nearby villages. That strike demolished a rehabilitation center for children with special needs.
“Another Russian missile strike on the city of Zaporizhzhia,” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry wrote on Twitter. “17 civilians were killed. If #UAarmy had modern Western anti-missile systems, we could have prevented such tragedies.”
The shelling follows an explosion on Saturday on the Kerch Strait bridge, a key supply route that links Crimea and Russia.
The 12-mile bridge also holds symbolic importance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to construct the road-and-rail bridge soon after he annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and Putin himself personally inaugurated the bridge when it opened in 2018.
The bridge is widely disliked by Ukrainians, who view it as a symbol of the Russian occupation.
The explosion was the latest setback for Putin in areas he claims to control.
Ukrainian forces have taken other small towns in the four regions he annexed, adding to steep territorial gains the Ukrainians recently won in a counteroffensive that primarily focused on the country’s east but has since extended to the south.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his nightly address vowed to retake all Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia, saying it is “the best option” for Russian forces to flee “while they have the chance.”
“This is a future without occupiers,” Zelensky said. “Throughout our territory, in particular in Crimea.”
(Information from TheHill.com via the Nexstar Media Wire)