Thursday in Ukraine: US citizen killed in Russian artillery attack
An American man was killed in a Russian attack on the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, where he was seeking medical treatment for his partner. The death of Jim Hill, of Diggs, Idaho, was reported Thursday by his sister.
“My brother Jimmy Hill was killed yesterday in Chernihiv, Ukraine. He was waiting in a bread line with several other people when they were gunned down by Russian military snippers,” his sister, Cheryl Hill Gordon, wrote on Facebook. “His body was found in the street by the local police.”
Ukrainian officials reported that 10 people were killed Wednesday in Chernihiv while standing in the bread line.
Chernihiv police and the U.S. State Department confirmed the death of an American but did not identify him. Hill was at least the second U.S. citizen to be killed in the conflict, after the killing of journalist and filmmaker Brent Renaud last week.
In poignant posts on Facebook in the weeks before his death, Hill described “indiscriminate bombing” in a city under siege.
Hill, who identified himself as a lecturer at universities in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and Warsaw, Poland, said he was in Chernihiv with his partner for her to receive medical treatment.
Dozens killed in Chernihiv
In Chernihiv, a city north of Kyiv, at least 53 people had been brought to morgues over the past 24 hours, killed during heavy Russian air attacks and ground fire, the local governor, Viacheslav Chaus, told Ukrainian TV on Thursday.
Ukraine’s emergency service says a hostel in Chernihiv was shelled, killing a mother, father and three of their children, including 3-year-old twins.
Chaus said Chernihiv has experienced “colossal losses and destruction” amid heavy bombardment from Russian artillery and air strikes.
The Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday 10 people were killed in Chernihiv while standing in line for bread. Russia has denied involvement.
Chaus said civilians were hiding in basements and shelters without access to utilities in the city of 280,000 people.
“The city has never known such nightmarish, colossal losses and destruction,” he said.
Chernihiv, which is close to the borders with Belarus and Russia, was among the first Ukrainian cities to come under attack from Russian forces when the invasion began three weeks ago.
21 killed as Russia destroys school, community center
Twenty-one people have been killed by Russian artillery that destroyed a school and a community center in Merefa, near the northeast city of Kharkiv, officials said.
Merefa Mayor Veniamin Sitov said the attack occurred just before dawn on Thursday.
The Kharkiv region has seen heavy bombardment as stalled Russian forces try to advance in the area.
More strikes in Mariupol
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office says Russia carried out further airstrikes on the besieged port city of Mariupol early on Thursday morning.
Zelenskyy’s office did not report casualties for the latest strikes.
They come amid rescue efforts in the city after a theater where hundreds had been sheltering was destroyed Wednesday in what Ukrainian authorities say was a Russian air strike. A Ukrainian lawmaker says there are reports of injuries but not deaths in the strike on the theater.
“People are escaping from Mariupol by themselves using their own transport,” Zelenskyy’s office said, adding the “risk of death remains high” because of Russian forces previously firing on civilians.
The presidential office also reported artillery and air strikes around the country overnight, including in the Kalynivka and Brovary suburbs of the capital, Kyiv. It said fighting continues as Russian forces try to enter the Ukraine-held city of Mykolaiv in the south and that there was an artillery barrage through the night in the eastern town of Avdiivka.
The Ukrainian General Staff says “the enemy, without success in its ground operation, continues to carry out rocket and bomb attacks on infrastructure and highly populated areas of Ukrainian cities.”
Row upon row of windowless shells of burned and shrapnel-scarred apartment buildings loomed in Mariupol as snow flurries fell Thursday.
One resident told of having nothing to eat and no way to contact her mother in Makiivka, a city 50 miles (80 kilometers) north, to tell her she was alive.
“We are trying to survive somehow,” said the resident, Elena, who didn’t provide her last name. “There is no connection, just nothing. It is cruel. My child is hungry. I don’t know what to give him to eat.”
Cars, some with the “Z” symbol of the Russian invasion force in their windows, drove past stacks of ammunition boxes and artillery shells. Others waited in long lines of traffic or got around on foot, pushing carts and baby carriages.
A land mine could be seen on the ground. Smoke rose from the city’s skyline.