KYIV, Ukraine—Rescue workers sifted through the debris of a 21-story apartment building that was struck by a Russian missile as the United Nations head was visiting the Ukrainian capital, while Ukrainian forces stepped up efforts to prevent Russian troops from advancing in the east of the country.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said a body had been found in the debris of the building late Thursday. It was later identified as that of Vira Hyrych, a journalist with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty who lived there, the news service said.
Mr. Klitschko said the toll would likely have been higher but many of the apartments were empty since Russia’s initial attempt to take the city in February and early March. Since then, Moscow has focused on consolidating its positions and advancing from the south and east of the country. “Kyiv continues to be under enemy fire,” Mr. Klitschko said.
Sales manager Mikhail Vovchynsky, 22, and his girlfriend, Olha Bortnik, 20, had just returned from work to their apartment on the 14th floor when the missile struck the building. If they had arrived home a few minutes later they might have gotten stuck in the elevator, or worse, he said. Though the structure is still standing, its lower floors were gouged out by the impact and most of the windows were shattered by the shock wave.
The apartment building is next to a manufacturing plant that had previously been targeted in a Russian strike. Russia’s Defense Ministry on Friday said it destroyed the facility with a precision Kalibr missile in addition to hitting a range of other targets across Ukraine.
Ms. Bortnik said Moscow might have hit the apartment building by mistake. But Mr. Vovchynsky speculated it could have been targeted deliberately to scare residents like him who fled the city in the early days of the invasion but returned after Russian forces retreated from around the capital last month.
They said they were loading their belongings into a vehicle but plan to remain in Kyiv because of work.
More than 100 civilians have been killed by Russian attacks on the capital since the start of the invasion, including four children, Mr. Klitschko said.
The missile strike came shortly after U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier in the week. He said the U.N. would continue to push for a full-scale cease-fire, telling Portuguese broadcaster RTP that he was “shocked” by the missile attack, “not because I’m here but because Kyiv is a sacred city for Ukrainians and Russians alike.”
Mr. Zelensky, meanwhile, said in his customary late-night address that the timing of the attack “says a lot about Russia’s true attitude to global institutions, about the efforts of the Russian leadership to humiliate the U.N. and everything that the organization represents.”
Earlier in the day, Mr. Guterres had conceded his exasperation that the U.N. Security Council, where Russia is a permanent member, had failed to stop the conflict in Ukraine. “Let me be very clear. The security council failed to do everything in its power to prevent and end this war,” he said in a joint news conference with Mr. Zelensky. “This is a source of great disappointment, frustration and anger.”
Speaking with the U.K.’s Sky News Friday, Mark Malloch Brown, a former U.N. deputy secretary-general, said there are now concerns that the body is facing a crisis similar to that which crippled its predecessor, the League of Nations, before World War II.
“There are many that worry that the U.N. faces a similar moment of crisis of legitimacy and confidence,” he said. “One of the original guarantors of the U.N., the former Soviet Union, now Russia, has become a rogue state, an enemy of the international law-and-order system.”
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Russian forces were continuing their efforts to gain full control of the Donbas region in the east of the country, parts of which broke away from Kyiv’s control in 2014, the same year Moscow annexed the strategic Crimean Peninsula. It said the primary Russian objective appears to be maintaining a land corridor from Donbas to Crimea, while trying to cut off Ukrainian units in the area.
Ukrainian officials and Western analysts say the Russian forces are making slow progress. Ukraine said its special forces had hit a strategic railway bridge in Melitopol on Thursday. Video footage showed it had been severely damaged, potentially disrupting Russia’s ability to supply its front lines toward the city of Zaporizhzhia from Crimea.
Mr. Zelensky welcomed news that President Biden had sent Congress a request for $33 billion to fund more weapons and economic assistance for Ukraine, calling it a significant development. The move has garnered broad support in Congress and signals how the U.S. and its European allies are preparing for a longer war.
Speaking in Brussels on Thursday, the head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization emphasized the likely duration of support Ukraine would require.
“It’s a very unpredictable and fragile situation in Ukraine but there is absolutely a possibility that this war will drag on and last for months and years,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
—Ann M. Simmons contributed to this article.
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