Ukrainian officials said Tuesday a Russian missile struck the city of Kramatorsk, killing at least one person and wounding three others.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted on Telegram that the missile hit the center of the city and damaged six high-rise buildings.
“The evil state continues to fight against the civilian population,” Zelenskyy said. “Destroying life and leaving nothing human. Every strike that takes an innocent life must result in a lawful and just sentence that punishes murder. It will definitely be that way.”
The attack came as Russia pointed to what it said is Ukraine’s refusal to engage in peace talks.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia has only a military path in Ukraine. “We must achieve our goals,” Peskov told reporters. “Given the current stance of the Kyiv regime, now it’s only possible by military means.”
Zelenskyy has repeatedly said since Russia invaded his country more than a year ago that Ukraine will only consider peace talks when all Russian forces withdraw.
Russia said Monday it is ready to allow an extension to a Ukraine grain export deal that has helped bring down global food prices, but only for 60 days.
A Russian delegation at talks with senior U.N. officials described the conversations Monday as “comprehensive and frank” but said Russia wanted to see “tangible progress” on a parallel agreement on Russian exports before the Ukraine grain deal again comes up for renewal.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative allows for Ukraine — one of the world’s leading producers of grain — to safely ship food and fertilizer from three Ukrainian ports.
The grain deal was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July to help ease a global food crisis and was extended for 120 days in November. That extension is due to expire on Saturday.
The Russian delegation at the talks in Geneva said in a statement Monday that “while the commercial export of Ukrainian products is carried out at a steady pace, bringing considerable profits to Kyiv, restrictions on the Russian agricultural exporters are still in place.”
“The sanctions exemptions for food and fertilizers announced by Washington, Brussels and London are essentially inactive,” it said.
Russia has been struggling to export grain and fertilizer due to a range of factors, including banking restrictions imposed by Western countries and high insurance costs.
Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, said Russia’s decision to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative for only 60 days goes against the agreement.
“[The grain] agreement involves at least 120 d. of extension, therefore Russia’s position to extend the deal only for 60 d. contradicts the document signed by Turkey and the UN,” Kubrakov said on Twitter.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters in Washington on Monday that the deal is “a critical instrument at a critical time.”
U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Monday that “the United Nations remains totally committed to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, as well as our efforts to facilitate the export of Russian food and fertilizer.”
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.