Reports this week indicate that three Ukrainian citizens — including a child — died in the capital city of Kyiv during a missile attack when they attempted to seek refuge in a bomb shelter but were unable to gain entry.
“People were knocking, knocking for a very long time. There were women and children and nobody opened it,” the husband of a woman who died seeking shelter told Ukraine’s public broadcaster. https://t.co/QOCEZmENF9
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) June 2, 2023
Local officials responded with an investigation that included a search of the shelter inside a medical facility that was reportedly closed despite a public warning about the impending attack.
Prosecutors confirmed that they could file charges related to neglect of official duty with grave consequences in response to the apparent failure to provide shelter.
For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered a harsh assessment of Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, suggesting that there could be serious ramifications for him if a probe confirms that the locked bomb shelter resulted in casualties.
“Everyone will be responsible,” Zelenskyy told reporters. “The reaction will be firm. Russia, as the enemy, is not enough for us. We have internal enemies as well.”
Citing the presence of reporters, he said that he would refrain from going into greater detail. Nevertheless, after his advisers called for the end of the press conference, he offered a final statement.
“I would say this: There may be a knockout,” Zelenskyy concluded.
He responded to the situation with a call for a complete audit of the nation’s bomb shelters in hopes of preventing a similar incident as its war with Russia continues.
In a statement following Thursday’s missile strike, Zelenskyy noted that he had called a meeting with the Staff of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and determined that a thorough review was in order.
The situation warranted a “tough response of the participants of the meeting to the deaths of people near the closed bomb shelter,” he explained.
Per his instructions, top staff officials will report back with their findings in 10 days regarding their checks of shelters in Kyiv, Klymenko, and elsewhere across the country.
As for the broader military effort against Russia, Zelenskyy and the staff reportedly formed a plan to improve Ukraine’s air defense system, “taking into account available resources, revenues from partners and own production.”
Zelenskyy confirmed that additional measures could focus on countries that are providing Russia with military assistance or are helping that country bypass harsh sanctions implemented by the U.S. and many other countries around the world.