Toddler killed by Russian missile strike as Putin cranks up assault

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A two-year-old child has become the latest victim of Vladimir Putin’s brutal war on Ukraine, after the toddler died in the ambulance following a missile strike in the east of the country. Meanwhile the UK’s Ministry of Defence has warned Russia has “re-energised” its assault on the key city of Bakhmut, which for eight and a half months has been at the centre of some of the bloodiest fighting.

Regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said five people were killed when Russian missiles struck the nearby city of Sloviansk today Friday.

However, the country’s Defence Ministry subsequently tweeted: “The death toll from Russia’s missile attack on Sloviansk has risen to 8.

“The two-year-child rescued from the rubble died in an ambulance.”

The post added: “The excuse ’we were simply following orders’ will not suffice.

“Everyone who gives criminal orders or follows those orders will face justice.”

Also today, the office of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said fighting over the previous 24 hours in Bakhmut had destroyed two kindergartens and residential buildings, with the city, previously home to 70,000 people, now resembling a ghost town.

In its latest tweeted DefenceHQ bulletin this morning, the MoD said: “Russia has re-energised its assault on the Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut as forces of the Russian MoD and Wagner Group have improved co-operation.”

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Ukrainian forces still held the western districts of the town, but has been subjected to “particularly intense” Russian artillery fire over the previous 48 hours, the post continued.

It added: “Wagner assault groups continue to conduct the main advance through the centre of town, while Russian airborne forces (VDV) have relieved some Wagner units securing the northern and southern flanks of the operation.

“Ukrainian forces face significant resupply issues but have made orderly withdrawals from the positions they have been forced to concede.”

The two-year-old is just the latest child to be caught in the crossfire of Putin’s war.

Earlier this month, Save the Children announced the number of children killed since February 24, 2022 – the day Putin ordered his invasion – had passed the 500 mark, with 991 injured.

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Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Country Director in Ukraine, said: “500 children killed is yet another tragic milestone reached in this war.

“This is 500 more than it should be. Innocent girls and boys are still being injured and killed every day in Ukraine where violence, including the use of explosive weapons in urban areas, looms on the horizon.”

She continued: “As a result, there have been three times as many child casualties through the first year of the war compared to the previous eight years of conflict in the east of the country.

“Children in Ukraine have also experienced immense psychological distress because of violence and instability – many have been separated from their parents, or seen their loved ones killed or injured.

“The world must act now and do whatever it takes to protect the most vulnerable of human beings.”

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