Russian rockets destroy 3 apartment buildings, leave 15 dead and more than 20 missing: July 10 recap

At least 15 people have been killed and more than 20 are believed buried in the rubble after Russian rockets pummeled apartment buildings in eastern Ukraine, the latest brutal attack on civilians as the invading forces seek to capture the rest of the Donbas region.

Rescuers helped by heavy equipment looked for survivors under the debris Sunday in Chasiv Yar, a town of about 12,000 people in the northern half of the Donetsk province where three buildings in a residential area were destroyed late Saturday. Authorities said six people have been rescued, but regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said an estimated 24 are still trapped, including a 9-year-old child..

One building had its sides completely shorn off by the impact of the strike, but rescuers continued their efforts in the rain despite the dangerous conditions. The thud of artillery on the nearby front line resonated just a few miles away, making some workers flinch and others run for cover when it got too close.

After taking control of the Luhansk province, the Russians have set their eyes on seizing the Donetsk, which would give them full command of the Donbas. Chasiv Yar is 12 miles southeast of Kramatorsk, a major Russian target.

Smoke rises from a house caught on fire, after cluster rockets hit a residential area, in Konstantinovka, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, July 9, 2022.
Smoke rises from a house caught on fire, after cluster rockets hit a residential area, in Konstantinovka, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, July 9, 2022.

Latest developments:

►The first few hundred Ukrainians to train in the U.K. have started to receive instruction at sites across Britain in an effort to replenish the ranks with up to 10,000 new recruits. They will be trained in weapons handling, battlefield first aid and patrol tactics, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said.

►Even though Russian and Belarusian players were banned from this year's Wimbledon tournament due to the war, the Russian Tennis Federation could claim a victory after Elena Rybakina — born in Moscow and raised in the country's system but now a Kazakhstan citizen — won the women's title.

►Ukraine deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, told residents of Russian-occupied southern areas to flee ahead of an upcoming "massive fight'' in the areas near Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

►A municipal lawmaker in Moscow, Alexei Gorinov, was sentenced to seven years in prison for comments spurning Russia's war in Ukraine, the first elected Russian official to be charged under a new law targeting anti-war remarks.

►71 million more people around the world are experiencing poverty as a result of soaring food and energy prices that climbed in the weeks following Russia's invasion, the United Nations Development Program said in a report.

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Russians appear to set sights on annexing Kharkiv province

Two rocket attacks Sunday in the Kharkiv province, which occupiers consider an “inalienable part of Russian land,” may be the latest sign the Kremlin will attempt to annex at least part of the industrial northeastern territory that houses Ukraine's second-largest city.

The Institute for the Study of War presented other indications, among them the new flag displayed by the occupation government with the Russian imperial double-headed eagle and the quick establishment of a civilian administration, which introduced martial law Friday.

While the Russian efforts are now focused on taking over the Donetsk province as they pursue control of the Donbas region, they appear determined to expand their reach. The British Defense Ministry said in a Sunday tweet that controlling E40, the main road connecting Donetsk to Kharkiv, "is likely to be an important objective for Russia as it attempts to advance through Donetsk.''

Griner's absence a central theme at WNBA All-Star Game

Brittney Griner's presence loomed as large as the 6-foot-9 center at Sunday's WNBA All-Star Game in Chicago, even as she sat thousands of miles away in a Russian prison, desperate to come home.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was announced as an honorary starter to the game, and all her fellow All-Stars wore her name and number on their jerseys in the second half as the league continued raising awareness about Griner's imprisonment.

Griner, 31, has been detained since Feb.17, a week before the invasion of Ukraine began, after police at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage. The eight-time All-Star pleaded guilty Thursday to drug possession charges and could face up to 10 years in prison, her return home clearly complicated by the strained relations between the U.S. and Russia.

"BG is one of us. She’s our sister," said A’ja Wilson, captain of the winning team Sunday. "We’re going to do whatever we can to amplify the platform we have to make sure everyone is doing what they need to do to make sure she gets home safely."

Both countries to blame for deadly March attack on nursing home, UN report says

Russia and Ukraine share the blame, perhaps equally, for the March 11 attack on a nursing home in the eastern province of Luhansk that caused a fire, killing dozens of vulnerable civilians, a new U.N. report says.

Ukrainian officials faulted the invading forces entirely for the brutality near the village of Stara Krasnyanka, but the report points out Ukrainian troops took up positions inside the nursing home, effectively making it a target.

At least 22 of the 71 patients survived the assault, but the exact number of people killed remains unknown, according to the United Nations.

US concerned about China's support of Russia

In five hours of talks in their first-to-face meeting since October, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday that he expressed deep concern to Chinese officials about their country's stance on Russia’s actions in Ukraine and did not believe Beijing’s protestations that it is neutral in the conflict.

“We are concerned about the PRC’s (People's Republic of China) alignment with Russia,” Blinken told reporters after the meeting in the Indonesian resort of Bali. He said it is difficult to be neutral in a conflict in which there is a clear aggressor, but that even if it were possible, “I don’t believe China is acting in a way that is neutral.”

US to give Ukraine $360M more in humanitarian aid

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter on Saturday that the U.S. will give Ukraine an additional $360 million in humanitarian aid to support refugees who have fled the nation amid its conflict with Russia and the Ukrainians still there.

The extra aid comes a day after the Pentagon said it would send another $400 million in weapons and spare parts to Ukraine, including four additional sophisticated rocket-assisted artillery systems to counter Russia's advances.

Putin tells West: 'Let them try' to defeat Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin challenged Western nations, suggesting his invasion of Ukraine is far from over, Russian state media RIA Novosti reported.

"Today we hear that (the West wants) to defeat us on the battlefield," Putin said, according to RIA Novosti. "Well, what can I say? Let them try."

Speaking at a meeting with leaders of the Kremlin-controlled parliament Thursday, Putin accused Western allies of fueling the hostilities, charging that “the West wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian. It’s a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it looks like it’s heading in that direction.''

Putin launched the unprovoked invasion Feb. 24 under the pretext of "denazifying'' Ukraine.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine updates: Search for survivors after Russian shelling kills 15