As the peace talks between Ukraine and Russia had commenced, explosions were heard in Kyiv and Kharkiv in another Russian attack on Ukraine’s major cities. At least 21 people were killed, and 112 more were injured following rocket strikes in Kharkiv, which targeted the city’s Freedom Square and an opera house. No military presence or installations were found within these places, which would indicate that Russia is now targeting civilian populations as the rockets also hit residential buildings. The deaths reportedly included three children, possibly more.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov reported the incident via his Telegram account, saying that Kharkiv had experienced one of their most difficult days and described the attack as a massacre of Ukrainian people. Furthermore, a family was found to be burned alive inside their car, and another instance of brutality was seen when four people were reportedly killed when they were just finding water. A local hospital was also attacked by the Russians, leaving it heavily damaged by artillery fire.

“The missiles hit residential buildings, killing and injuring peaceful civilians. Kharkiv has not seen such damage for a very long time. And this is horrible,” he said.

Kharkiv’s Freedom Square was also destroyed in the bombing. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the attack as a terrorist attack as no military installations or troops were in the Square. “This is the price of freedom,” said the President.

Videos of the bombing saw a regional administration government building being hit by a missile, causing it to be extremely damaged. As the video shows, civilians driving around the city nearby the government building were directly hit by the missile, instantly killing them.

“It’s terror against the city, against Kharkiv, against Ukraine. There was no military target at the Square, as well as in other residential districts of Kharkiv, which have been hit by rocket artillery. The missile hitting the Central Square is frank, undisguised terror,” Zelensky said in a video message. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described the attacks as barbaric and that Putin had been committing war crimes, murdering innocent civilians.

“We call on all countries of the world to immediately and firmly react to such criminal tactics by the aggressor and declare that Russia is carrying out state terrorism. We demand to put terrorists to justice in international courts.”