At least 20 people were killed and more than 100 others were wounded in Ukraine on Thursday after missiles hit the city of Vinnytsia in what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called an “open act of terrorism.”
During a virtual address to the Ukraine Accountability Conference at The Hague, Zelensky said: “There were eight rockets, two of which hit the center of the city. Twenty people have died, including three children. There are a large, large number of wounded.”
He said community facilities, houses and a medical center, along with vehicles, were destroyed or set on fire.
"This is the act of Russian terror,” Zelensky told the conference.
"I believe it is inevitable that International Criminal Court will bring accountability to those guilty of crimes under its jurisdiction: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide,” Zelensky continued, calling for a “special tribunal” into Russia’s war against Ukraine, which is now in its fifth month.
Ukrainian officials said the civilians were killed and others injured when a submarine in the Black Sea launched Russian Kalibr cruise missiles on Vinnytsia, a city located around 167 miles southwest of the capital, Kyiv.
Serhiy Borzov, governor of the Vinnytsia region, which is far from the frontlines of the war, said Ukrainian air defenses shot down two of the total four missiles that had been launched.
Videos shared online appeared to show black smoke billowing from buildings in the city, which is one of Ukraine’s largest, with a population of around 370,000 before the war began.
Officials said the missiles hit buildings and ignited a blaze that spread to 50 cars in a parking lot. “These are quite high-precision missiles. ... They knew where they were hitting,” Borzov told the Associated Press.
Zelensky accused Russia of intentionally aiming missiles at civilians, writing on the Telegram messaging app: “Every day Russia is destroying the civilian population, killing Ukrainian children, directing missiles at civilian objects. Where there is no military [targets]. What is it if not an open act of terrorism?”
In March, days after Russia invaded Ukraine, the ICC prosecutor launched an investigation to probe reports of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide unfolding in Ukraine.
Shortly after the attack in Vinnytsia on Thursday, 45 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico and Britain, agreed to coordinate investigations into alleged war crimes in Ukraine. This will help train Ukrainian prosecutors and avoid overlapping investigations.
Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said more than 23,000 cases of war crimes have been registered in Ukraine.