A missile strike launched by Russian forces into the center of the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv killed seven people — including a six-year-old girl — and injured more than 100, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on Saturday.
“An ordinary Saturday, which Russia turned into a day of pain and loss,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on the social media site Telegram. A central square, a polytechnic school and a theater were damaged in the attack, he said.
The strike came as Zelenskyy was was traveling to Sweden for talks with Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. The leaders discussed the possible supply of Gripen jets for Kyiv’s war effort, Zelenskyy said after their meeting, which followed news on Friday that the Netherlands and Denmark confirmed they received approval from the U.S. to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
Zelenskyy encouraged Kristersson to “share” Gripen aircraft with Ukraine, the Associated Press reported. “We do not have superiority in the air, and we do not have modern aircraft. In reality, the Swedish Gripen is the pride of your country, and I believe that the prime minister could share this pride with Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said.
Sweden has said it will allow Ukrainian pilots to test the Gripen planes but has so far ruled out sending any to Kyiv.
Some 129 people were injured in the missile strike in Chernihiv, including 15 children, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said. Speaking of the slain child, he said police officers on the scene tried to help the child, but there was “a lot of blood loss.”
“Unfortunately, the doctors could not save the child,” he said. The girl’s mother had also been hit and was “in an extremely serious condition,” he added.
The attack came as Russian President Vladimir Putin visited generals in Rostov-on-Don, the southern city that acts as the staging post for Russia’s invasion forces and was briefly captured by paramilitary forces from the Wagner Group in June. According to the Kremlin, Putin met with Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Army, who has been fiercely criticized by Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the NATO allies, in providing weapons to Ukraine, risk entering “a situation of direct armed confrontation of nuclear powers.” Moscow’s nuclear arsenal protects Russia from security threats, he added in an interview with state-owned magazine The International Affairs.
“The possession of nuclear arms is today the only possible response to some of significant external threats to security of our country,” Lavrov said in the interview published early Saturday on the Foreign Ministry website.
This article has been updated.