Russian strikes key Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, killing at least 7, as ground troops advance

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A wave of Russian missile strikes on Thursday pummeled several locations in Kharkiv, including a printing house the regional capital, killing seven people, as the Kremlin’s forces advance.

Russian troops have taken advantage of a weakened front line in Ukraine, and for the past two weeks have advanced towards Kharkiv. Parts of the region were captured by Russian forces earlier in the war before being liberated.

All seven of the deceased, at least five of whom were women, were civilians working for the Factor-Druk printing company in the region’s capital, the city of Kharkiv, according to the regional governor, Oleh Syniehubov. Sixteen people were injured at the at printing house, located south of the city center, and another seven were injured elsewhere.

After the attack, images emerged of the factory partly reduced to rubble, with its facade blown off.

Volunteers carry the body of a person killed by Russian strikes on a printing house in Kharkiv, on Thursday. - Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters
Volunteers carry the body of a person killed by Russian strikes on a printing house in Kharkiv, on Thursday. - Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

Factor-Druk publishes around a third of the nation’s books and 10% of its newspapers, the company says on its website.

The Ukrainian state railway network was also attacked in the early morning, according to a statement from the company. Six employees were wounded, the company said. A CNN team travelling in the area saw two craters and smoke from impacts near a railway line.

Civilians have also been trapped by a new swell of violence engulfing the region. On May 15, Russian forces fired on people desperately trying to flee the town of Vovchansk and killed a woman being pushed in a wheelchair by her husband, Ukrainian prosecutors reported.

‘Extremely brutal’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the “extremely brutal Russian attack” on Kharkiv and the town of Lyubotyn, drawing attention to the fragility of Kyiv’s air defenses in the face of Moscow’s renewed assault.

“Russian terrorists are taking advantage of Ukraine’s lack of sufficient air defense protection and reliable capability to destroy terrorist launchers at their exact locations, which are close to our borders,” Zelensky posted on X.

Earlier this month, the US approved a $400 million package of air defense munitions and other weapons to Ukraine. But senior officials in Kyiv have warned that recent flush of aid will not be enough to fend off further Russian advances.

CNN journalists in the town of Lyptsi, around 20 miles north of Kharkiv city, saw troops using aging and inadequate weaponry, in an attempt to repel highly-equipped Russian units bolstered by drones.

Zelensky is growing increasingly exasperated by a condition imposed by Washington and other Western allies that the weapons they provide to Ukraine cannot be used to launch munitions into Russia.

“I don’t think there should be any restrictions, because this is not about the Ukrainian army using Western weapons on Russian territory for offensive,” Zelensky told reporters in Kyiv earlier this month. “This is defense.”

White House officials earlier this month said their stance on the issue remained.

“We do not encourage nor do we enable attacks using US-supplied weapons systems inside Russian territory,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said during a press briefing on May 17. “That’s the policy. That has not changed.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh, Mick Krever, Kosta Gak, Brice Laine, Svitlana Vlasova and Radina Gigova contributed reporting.

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