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Ukraine live briefing: Zelensky vows response after Chernihiv strike kills 7; drone strikes

Damage from the missile attack on the Chernihiv Regional Academic Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater that killed 7 people is seen Saturday in Chernihiv, Ukraine. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the military would “respond tangibly” to an attack on the northern city of Chernihiv, which killed at least seven people, including a 6-year-old child. Ukrainian authorities said 144 people were injured in the daytime strike on a theater. The regional governor said the strike “probably” involved a ballistic missile.

Drone attacks on Russian territory overnight damaged a train station and fell around two Russian military units, officials there said, blaming Ukraine. An uptick in attacks deep inside Russian territory likely means Russian military leaders are under pressure to tighten air defenses, Britain’s Defense Ministry said.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

The attack on Chernihiv turned “an ordinary Saturday … into a day of pain and loss,” Zelensky said. The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, Denise Brown, condemned the attack — about 80 miles north of the capital, Kyiv, and far from the front lines of the war — saying in a statement that it “is heinous to attack the main square of a large city, in the morning, while people are out walking, some going to the church to celebrate a religious day for many Ukrainians.”

Videos verified by The Washington Post showed an explosion on the roof of the Chernihiv theater before a fiery projectile slammed into a building about 320 feet away. Acting mayor Oleksandr Lomako said some homes were damaged by the blasts. Among the injured were 15 children and 15 police officers, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.

Video released by President Zelensky’s office shows the aftermath of the strike on a theater in Chernihiv. Editor’s note: The video has no audio. (Video: Volodymyr Zelensky via Storyful)

Five people were injured after a drone attack on a train station in Russia not far from the Ukrainian border. The governor of the Kursk region said in a Telegram post early Sunday that a Ukrainian drone strike on the station caused a fire on the roof, and the people were “slightly injured” by falling glass.

Russia stopped an attempted Ukrainian drone attack on Moscow early Sunday, the Russian defense ministry said. The ministry said it used electronic means to disable the drone. It said the attack did no damage and no one was hurt. The Post could not independently verify the report.

Russian forces also thwarted a drone attack in its southern region of Rostov, regional governor Vasily Golubev said early Sunday. Golubev said two drones “fell on the territory of a military unit in Kamensk,” a Russian town bordering the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, and said another drone fell near Novoshakhtinsk, some 50 miles south. He said there were no casualties or damage. The Post could not independently verify the report.

Russian military leaders are “highly likely under intense pressure to improve air defences over western Russia,” the British Defense Ministry said, as Ukraine’s ability to strike deep inside Russian territory has improved in recent months, leading to more frequent drone and ballistic missile attacks. The pressure to stop these strikes is probably falling on “the leadership of Russia’s Aerospace Forces,” or VKS, and particularly on “VKS Chief of Staff, Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov,” the ministry said Sunday in its daily intelligence assessment.

It is “premature to make assessments about the overall success” of Kyiv’s counteroffensive, the Institute for the Study of War said in an assessment, following a report by The Post in which people familiar with a classified forecast from the U.S. intelligence community said Ukraine would fail in its objective of severing Russia’s land bridge to Crimea in this year’s push. The D.C.-based think tank said it maintains that “the overall degradation of the Russian defensive line creates opportunities for any Ukrainian breakthrough to be potentially operationally significant.”

Kyiv has an agreement with Stockholm to produce armored vehicles known as CV-90s inside Ukraine, Zelensky said in his nightly address. He did not specify how many, or what the agreement entailed. On his visit to Sweden this weekend, Zelensky and Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson also discussed Ukraine’s desire for Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets, which Stockholm earlier this summer agreed to allow Ukrainian pilots to test.

The United States is expected to soon double its prewar monthly production of the standard NATO artillery round, The Post reports, increasing its output from 14,000 units a month before Russia’s invasion to eventually 28,000 units a month. But industry experts warn of challenges in sustaining the elevated production levels, not just to aid Ukraine war efforts but also to ensure U.S. security in potential conflicts with China or Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited military officials in Rostov-on-Don, according to reports by state media. The trip to the city in southwestern Russia, near the Ukrainian border, is his first since Wagner Group mercenaries briefly took control there during their short-lived June rebellion.

Ukraine running out of options to retake significant territory: More than two months into the highly anticipated counteroffensive that officials touted as Ukraine’s crucial opportunity to retake territory from Russian forces, it appears that the effort is stalling and Ukraine is running out of options, The Post’s Susannah George reports.

The slogging effort has stoked fears in Washington and Europe that the war could be reaching a stalemate and international support could erode. Franz-Stefan Gady, a senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Center for New American Security, said “the question here is which of the two sides is going to be worn out sooner.”

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