KYIV: Russian air attacks killed six people in northeast Ukraine on Thursday, authorities said, as President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of cynically targeting civilians.

Russian forces have stepped up their aerial bombardment of Ukraine in recent weeks, resulting in power cuts for thousands of people as the country’s electricity grid is targeted.

Drone attacks on Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv killed four people, including three rescuers responding to an earlier strike, Mayor Igor Terekhov said.

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The killed rescuers were aged 52, 32 and 41, Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said, while police identified the fourth victim as a 68-year-old woman.

At least 12 others were injured, Klymenko said.

“A despicable and cynical attack, when the rescuers arrived at the scene of the strike, the terrorists attacked again,” Zelensky said in a post on social media.

A Russian strike later on Thursday killed a man in a tractor, Kharkiv regional governor Oleg Sinegubov said.

Russia launched a total of 20 Iranian-designed “Shahed” drones at the northeastern region overnight, of which 11 were shot down, Ukraine’s air force said.

Moscow also targeted power infrastructure, killing a 47-year-old energy worker in an aerial bomb attack in the neighbouring Sumy region, the energy ministry said.

Ukrainian officials have urged the country’s allies to supply more anti-aircraft defence systems, in particular modern US-made Patriot systems.

US military aid to Ukraine has been drying up, with a $60 billion funding package currently stalled in Congress and frontline troops facing critical shortages.

Russia also accused Ukraine of striking civilians in occupied areas.

Ukrainian drones killed two people in the Russian-occupied part of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, Moscow-installed official Andrey Alekseyenko said.

Russian state media said Ukrainian shelling killed a man in the eastern Donetsk region.

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