(Sloviansk) The death toll of a Russian strike on a building in Sloviansk, in eastern Ukraine, increased to 11 dead on Saturday the day after a missile launch, Moscow claiming territorial gains for its part near Bakhmout.

“The number of victims of the shelling of Sloviansk has risen to 11 people,” spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Service for the eastern Donetsk region, Veronika Bakhal, said on television.

A previous toll reported nine dead, including a two-year-old child, and 21 wounded in the attack on Sloviansk, a town 45 kilometers northwest of Bakhmout.

Sloviansk, which had a pre-war population of 22,000, was targeted by seven Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles on Friday, according to Ukrainian authorities, which damaged five buildings, five houses, a school and an administrative building.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Moscow of “brutally bombing” residential buildings and “killing people in broad daylight”.

AFP reporters saw on Friday rescue workers searching for survivors on the top floor of a residential building and black smoke billowing from burning houses across the street.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, two women were killed on Saturday in a Russian bombardment of Kherson, in the south of the country, the head of the presidential administration, Andriï Iermak, announced on Telegram.

For its part, the Russian military has claimed territorial gains on the northern and southern outskirts of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the epicenter of fighting for months and where Moscow’s forces have slowly advanced until they control some. the major part.

“Wagner’s assault units advanced successfully, capturing two blocks on the northern and southern outskirts of the city,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Telegram, reporting the “heaviest fighting” on the front.

The paramilitary group Wagner, led by the sulphurous businessman Evguéni Prigojine, is on the front line in this battle, supported by artillery and army paratroopers.

According to the Russian ministry, Ukrainian troops are “retreating and deliberately destroying infrastructure and residential buildings in the city in order to slow the advance” of Russian forces.

“The [Russian] airborne troops hold the enemy back on the flanks and support the actions of the assault groups in capturing the city,” he added.

Russia said on Friday it was pushing into western Bakhmout to seize the last part of the largely destroyed city, still under the control of the Ukrainian army.

The day before, she had claimed to block Ukrainian forces in Bakhmout and prevent any reinforcements from entering there, suggesting that this city, where the bloodiest battle since the start of the Russian offensive has been taking place since last summer, was about to fall.

Kyiv has denied these claims, saying it continues to supply Ukrainian soldiers in Bakhmut and inflict “mad casualties” on the Russians.

AFP could not verify these statements from an independent source.

On the diplomatic front, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called on the United States to stop “encouraging war” in Ukraine and “start talking about peace” after a visit to China where he is closer to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

He also urged the European Union to “start talking about peace”.

Western countries are crucial supporters of the Ukrainian war effort, having provided large quantities of arms and ammunition to Kyiv, as well as logistical and financial support.

Volodymyr Zelensky refuses to negotiate with Moscow as long as Russian President Vladimir Putin is in power and insists on the return of all territories occupied by Russia, including Crimea annexed in 2014.

Russia has recently assured for its part that peace negotiations in Ukraine are only possible if they aim at the establishment of a “new world order” without American domination.