1 of 7 | Rescuers search for victims at a damaged residential building in Uman, south of Kyiv, after at least 19 people were killed in Russian missile strikes that targeted several Ukrainian cities overnight. Photo courtesy of State Emergency Service of Ukraine | License Photo
April 28 (UPI) -- A barrage of Russian air-to-surface missile strikes against cities across central and southern Ukraine early Friday killed 19 people and injured 18, according to Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Nine of those injured were hospitalized.
In a Telegram post Friday the ministry said, "As a result of the rocket attack of the Russian army on the nine-story building, 19 people were killed, another 18 were injured, 9 of them are in the hospital. Operative and investigative work continues. The headquarters for liquidation of the consequences of an emergency is working at the scene."
President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a tweet that he spoke by phone Friday with the European Council President Charles Michel.
"I informed him about the tragic consequences of another missile attack at Ukraine cities, killing civilians, including children," Zelensky Tweeted.
During that conversation, Zelensky said he also objected to several European nations banning imports of Ukrainian grain.
"We discussed the ban on the import of Ukraine agricultural products by several neighboring states. I expressed deep concern about such decisions and emphasized that these steps are a gross violation of the Association Agreement and the founding treaties of the EU," Zelensky said on Twitter. "I called for finding a solution to the situation, taking into account EU legislation, the Association Agreement, and the interests of all parties.
In Uman, at least 10 people, including a child, were killed when a predawn Russian missile struck an apartment building and a woman and her 3-year-old child were killed in Dnipro when their house was hit in the first major aerial attacks since early March.
Calling on the international community to put more pressure on Moscow, Zelensky said a night of missile and drone attacks had damaged 10 residential buildings in Uman, one of which was completely flattened.
"Evil can be stopped by weapons -- our defenders are doing it. And it can be stopped by sanctions -- global sanctions must be enhanced," Zelensky said.
The cities of Kremenchuk, Poltava and Ukrainka, as well as the capital, Kyiv, were also hit, but no casualties were reported there.
"Uman, Cherkasy region, city of Dnipro, and Ukrainka in Kyiv region. Horrific results of the new Russian large-scale missile attack. Murderers must be punished," the Ukraine Defense Ministry said in a Twitter post.
Ukrainian air defense systems downed 21 of 23 missiles launched from Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bomber aircraft and two drones, the ministry said.
The attacks prompted Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba to renew calls for Ukraine to be provided with American F-16 fighters to defend itself.
"The way to peace is to arm Ukraine with F-16s and protect children from Russian terror," Kuleba said in a Twitter post.
There have been multiple reports from the south of the country that preparations for the long-awaited Ukrainian spring offensive using new equipment supplied by Western allies are underway.
Ukrainian troops are said to be massing on the eastern side of the Dnipro River in the south in possible readiness for a counter-offensive toward occupied Crimea.
Meanwhile, British intelligence said Russia had canceled its so-called War Olympics over fears it would offend the country at war after senior Russian figures criticized the decision to go ahead with last year's games.
"Russian nationalist commentators, including former intelligence officer Igor Girkin, fiercely criticized the Russian Ministry of Defense for going ahead with the 2022 iteration," Britain's Ministry of Defense said.
"There is also a realistic possibility that due to losses in Ukraine, the Russian MOD is concerned a shortage of tanks, tank crews and other skilled personnel will risk the Russian team's usual domination of the medals table," the ministry said.
Moscow has canceled its annual May 9 Victory Day commemorations marking the end of World War II, because it was worried they may have sparked demonstrations over Ukraine, according to the ministry.