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For second time in a week, Russian strike in Ukraine kills and wounds dozens of civilians

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(LONDON) — For the second time this week, Russian strikes have caused significant civilian casualties in a key Ukrainian city as Russian missiles hit areas around the southeastern city of Dnipro on Friday, killing at least 8 people — including two children — and wounding nearly 30 more.

Two days earlier, Russian missiles struck the center of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, killing at least 18 and injuring nearly 80 more — one of the deadliest strikes in months.

Friday’s strikes in Dnipro damaged several floors of a residential building as well as the station, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement.

The strikes underline a shift in the war that has intensified in the past few weeks that has seen far more Russian airstrikes start to get through and Russian bombing broaden in scale as Ukrainian air defenses run out.

Russian bombing using missiles and drones now hit Ukrainian cities virtually every night, and in some cities, appear to have become once again more indiscriminate. The number of civilians dying has dramatically risen as have the number of successful Russian strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

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The United Nations says it has recorded a steep rise in the number of civilian casualties as the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring mission says it has verified at least 604 civilians killed or injured in March, a 20% increase from February.

Russia has improved its tactics for launching air attacks at the exact same time as Ukraine’s air defense has become far more porous as the are now short on ammunition with American military aid stalled in Congress.

While Ukraine has been largely able to protect Kyiv and Lviv, it lacks sufficient air defense systems to cover most keys cities outside the capital. Some experts and Ukrainian officials have expressed particular fear for Kharkiv, saying they worry Russia hopes to use constant strikes to make Ukraine’s second largest city — home to a million people — unlivable.

Meanwhile, President Zelensky has urged Ukraine’s allies to provide more air defense support urgently.

He and other Ukrainian officials have also noted that the U.S. and other western countries had intervened with their own militaries to protect Israel from the massive missile and drone attack launched by Iran on Sunday, suggesting the same could be done to shield Ukraine.

Zelensky on Friday, again, said Ukraine’s partners had the means to help stop Russian strikes.

“The world can guarantee this, the partners have the necessary capabilities. This has been proven particularly in the skies of the Middle East, and it should work in the skies of Europe,” Zelensky wrote in a post on his Telegram account.

The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to vote on the long-stalled security package worth tens of billions of dollars in military aid for Ukraine this weekend after Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson moved to put it forward along with separate aid bills for Israel and Taiwan.

The vote’s outcome still hangs in the balance, however, with far right, pro-Trump Republicans threatening to try to oust Johnson if he goes ahead with it. Johnson has vowed to put the measures to a vote even if it costs him his job.

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