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Russia, Ukraine trade blame after strike on city of Kherson leaves 10 dead

Picture taken on December 24, 2022, shows the aftermath of an alleged missile attack against the southern Ukrainian port city of Kherson. (Photo by Reuters)

At least 10 people have been killed in an attack on the southern Ukrainian port city of Kherson, prompting Russia and Ukraine to trade blame for the bloody strike.

While Ukrainian officials accused Russia of being behind the Saturday attack, which also left at least 58 people injured, pro-Russian authorities said Ukrainian forces had launched the attack in a bid to blame the Russian military.

Ukraine retook the city from the Russian troops in November. Since then, Kiev claims Russian forces have heavily shelled the city from across the vast Dnipro river. The city is the capital of a region of the same name, which is mostly controlled by Russia.

Describing the Saturday attack, Yuriy Sobolevskyi, deputy chair of the regional council, said a missile had landed next to a supermarket by the city's Freedom Square.

Vladimir Saldo, the region's pro-Russian governor, said Kiev had ordered its own troops to shell the city.

"This is a disgusting provocation with the obvious aim of blaming the Russian armed forces," he wrote on the Telegram messaging application.

The attack came shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrapped up a trip to the United States, where he pleaded for more American weapons to be used against Russia.

Moscow has been waging a war against the ex-Soviet republic since February in order to defend the pro-Russian population in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk against persecution by Kiev.

Ever since the beginning of the war, Kiev's allies, led by the US and Britain, have been pumping Ukraine full of advanced weapons and unleashing a slew of unprecedented sanctions against Moscow, steps that Russia says would only prolong the hostilities.

Commenting on the Saturday attack, Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian presidential aide, criticized those who were calling on Kiev to seek peace talks with Russia, mentioning Moscow's relentless pounding of Ukraine's power grid since October that has left millions without heating or water.

His reaction came after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Moscow was after a potential diplomatic settlement to the conflict in Ukraine.

Putin told reporters that Russia wanted an end to all armed conflicts through diplomacy.

“Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but on the contrary, to end this war,” the Russian president said, adding, “We will strive for an end to this, and the sooner the better, of course.”

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