Zelenskyy appeals to West to relax targeting limits for Ukraine as glide bombs hammer front line

DONETSK REGION, Ukraine (AP) — Drone footage from Ukraine’s military released Sunday has shown what appears to be bodies in a civilian area in the embattled eastern town of Toretsk, which has come under heavy Russian bombardment in recent days.

The attacks in the war-torn Donetsk region have prompted a scaled-up evacuation effort by Ukrainian rescue services. Local officials said that powerful Russian glide bombs have also been used in the town, the latest eastern front flash point as Russian attacks continue to put stretched Ukrainian front-line units on the defensive.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday that Russia had dropped more than 800 glide bombs in Ukraine in the past week alone.

“Ukraine needs the necessary means to destroy the carriers of these bombs, including Russian combat aircraft, wherever they are. This step is essential,” he wrote in an online post.

Glide bombs are heavy Soviet-era bombs fitted with precision guidance systems and launched from aircraft flying out of range of air defenses. The bombs weigh more than a ton and blast targets to smithereens, leaving a huge crater.

Police rescuers in Toretsk helped older residents out of their homes, carrying one woman out of her bed and onto a stretcher.

“It’s a terrible situation, because for three days we could not evacuate,” Oksana Zharko, 48, told The Associated Press while leaving the town in a police van with family members and a cat in a plastic carrier box.

“Yesterday there was an attack and our house was destroyed — very strong, there are no walls left. Everyone is stressed, emotional, in tears. It’s very scary.”

Russian attacks in recent weeks have focused on the town of Chasiv Yar farther north, as Ukrainian commanders in the area say their resources remain stretched, thanks largely to a monthslong gap in military assistance from the United States.

Ukraine is still struggling to stabilize parts of its front line after desperately needed military assistance was approved by the United States in April.

Zelenskyy called on countries assisting Ukraine to further relax restrictions on using Western weapons to strike military targets inside Russia.

“Clear decisions are needed to help protect our people,” he said. “Long-range strikes and modern air defense are the foundation for stopping the daily Russian terror. I thank all our partners who understand this.”

Hours after Zelenskyy spoke, Ukrainian officials said Russian glide bombs had struck near a postal warehouse in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city in the northeast, killing an employee and injuring nine people including an 8-month-old baby.

According to a statement by Nova Poshta, the private postal and courier company that operates the site, the strike set at least seven delivery trucks ablaze, while damaging at least three others and the warehouse itself. One driver died as a result.

As many as nine people remained trapped under burning wreckage, and rescue teams were combing the site on Sunday evening, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said on Telegram.

Less than a day earlier, Russian missiles slammed into a town in southern Ukraine, killing seven civilians, including children, and wounding dozens, local authorities reported.

Ukrainian officials published photos of bodies stretched out under picnic blankets in a park in Vilniansk, and deep craters in the blackened earth next to the charred, twisted remains of a building.

At least 38 people were wounded in Saturday evening's attack, authorities said, and declared a day of mourning on Sunday. Vilniansk is in the Zaporizhzhia region, less than 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the local capital and north of the front lines, as Russian forces continue to occupy part of the province.

Russia-appointed officials in Donetsk, which is partially occupied and illegally annexed by Moscow, said that Ukrainian shelling on Sunday wounded a 4-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl. According to Russia’s Emergencies Ministry, four of its staff also came under shelling Sunday as they attempted to put out a fire in the Kremlin-occupied local capital, also called Donetsk.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday reported its forces overnight shot down three dozen Ukrainian drones over six regions in Russia’s southwest. It later said that a total of 72 were downed on Saturday and during the night.

Debris from one drone fell on a village in the Kursk region, blowing out windows and damaging roofs and fences, according to a Telegram post by regional Gov. Aleksey Smirnov.


Associated Press writer Joanna Kozlowska in London contributed to this report.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine