UMAN, Ukraine (AP) — Relatives and friends cried next to coffins on Sunday as they buried children and others killed in a Russian missile attack on this central Ukrainian city, while fighting in the 14-month-long war claimed more lives elsewhere.
Almost all of the 23 victims of the attack on Friday died when two missiles slammed into an apartment building in Uman. Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said six children were among the dead.
Mykhayl Shulha, 6, cried and hugged relatives next to the coffin of his 11-year-old sister Sofia Shulha during Sunday’s funeral, while others paid respects to a 17-year-old boy.
As mourners held candles, crossed themselves and sang, the priest at the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God “Quick to Hear” waved a vessel containing incense over the coffins. He said the deaths had hit the entire community hard.
“I live nearby,” said Father Fyodor Botsu. “I personally knew the children, the littlest, from when they were very young, and I personally baptized them in this church. I’m worried with everyone since I have children and I’m a citizen of this country and have been living in this city for 15 years.”
He said he prayed “that the war should end and peace should come to our homes, city and country.”
At the damaged building in Uman, people brought flowers and photos of the victims.
Russia’s war brought more deaths elsewhere Sunday.
The governor of a Russian region bordering Ukraine said four people were killed in a Ukrainian rocket attack. The rockets hit homes in the village of Suzemka, 9 kilometers (6 miles) from the Ukrainian border, said Bryansk regional governor Alexander Bogomaz. He said two other residents were injured and that defense systems had knocked down some of the incoming shells.
Bryansk and the neighboring Belgorod region have experienced sporadic cross-border shelling throughout the war. In March, two people were reported killed in what officials said was an incursion by Ukrainian saboteurs in the Bryansk region.
Also Sunday, Gov. Oleksandr Prokudin said his Kherson region in Ukraine came under Russian artillery fire 27 times in the past 24 hours, killing one civilian.
An expected spring counteroffensive by Ukraine could be concentrated in the Kherson region, a gateway to Crimea and other Russian-occupied territory in the southern Ukrainian mainland. Ukrainian forces drove Russian forces out of the regional capital Kherson last year, a significant defeat for Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymy Zelenskyy said the counteroffensive wouldn’t wait for the delivery of all promised military equipment.
“I would have really wanted to wait for everything that was promised,” Zelenskyy told Finnish, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian journalists. “But it happens that the terms (of weapons deliveries and counteroffensive), unfortunately, do not coincide a little bit. And, I will say frankly, we pay attention to the weather.”
Ukraine is particularly hopeful that it will receive Western fighter jets, but Zelenskyy said his forces wouldn’t delay the counteroffensive for that, so as not to “reassure Russia that we still have a few months to train on the planes, and only then will we start.”
Zelenskyy said he spoke Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron about the weapons supply, and was pleased with its “speed and specificity.”
Macron’s office said he reiterated France’s commitment to provide Ukraine “all the aid necessary to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” and discussed long-term European military aid.
The head of the Wagner mercenary group that is leading Russia’s battle in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut gave an even more precise timetable for the Ukrainian counteroffensive. The Ukrainian military will launch the counteroffensive by May 15 because by then strong rains will have stopped and the soil will be dry enough for tanks and artillery to move, Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a video interview with a Russian journalist posted Saturday.
In other battlefield developments, Ukraine’s northern command said the Sumy and Chernihiv regions, which border Bryansk and Belgorod, came under fire 11 times during the night on Sunday.
In the Dnipropetrovsk region, a 48-year-old resident of Nikopol was killed, and two were injured, in Russian shelling, according to Gov. Serhii Lysak. He said six multi-story buildings and six private houses were damaged, as well as several other buildings, gas pipelines, and a power line.