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At least 23 people, including four children, were killed and at least 18 others were injured in a wave of Russian missile attacks in central Ukraine on Friday. The death toll will likely continue to rise, officials said, and rescuers are still searching for missing children thought to be under the rubble of a struck apartment building in Uman.
There were 46 apartments inside one of the buildings that were hit, of which 27 were completely destroyed, according to the Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko. The strike – by a Russian Kh-101 cruise missile – is thought to have caused the highest number of civilian casualties in a single incident since a missile struck an apartment block in Dnipro in January.
President Volodymyr Zelensky offered condolences to the victims' families and said the missile attacks underlined the country's need for modern military aircraft.
If you're just now catching up, here are other headlines you should know:
Ukrainian shelling: The self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic said nine people were killed in shelling by Ukrainian forces in the city of Donetsk. CNN cannot confirm the reported casualties, but unofficial Telegram channels published video and photos of extensive damage in several areas of the city.
Deported children: Zelensky says he appealed to his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, this week for help returning Ukrainian children who were deported by Russia.
Denied visit request: The US State Department said it was "deeply disappointed" that its request to visit detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in May was denied. The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday said it rejected the request in response to Washington’s denial of visas to Russian reporters accompanying Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to the United Nations this week.
Call for training on military jets: Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reiterated the country's call for F-16 fighter jet training from allies in a meeting with foreign ministers from eight countries on Thursday. Getting military training on how to maneuver the aircraft could be the first step in the country gaining access to the jets, Kuleba said.
Visit by Czech Republic and Slovak leaders: The presidents of the Czech Republic and Slovakia visited Ukraine on Friday, their first joint visit abroad, Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová said in a tweet on Friday. Čaputová said the visit is intended to bring "a message of friendship, solidarity & support," noting that the three countries "share parts of common history."
Grain import ban: Zelensky called out the "destructive" impact of bans on Ukrainian grain imposed by several European countries – on the grounds that the imports were undercutting the other nations' domestic prices. He said Friday he had discussed the issue with the President of the EU Council, Charles Michel.
Putin's decree: President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Thursday that allows the deportation of Ukrainian citizens from the territories declared annexed by Russia if they are considered a "national security threat."
Rescuers are still searching for missing children thought to be under the rubble of the apartment building hit by a Russian missile Friday in the central Ukrainian city of Uman.
Firefighters are trying to reach the lower floors of the bombed-out building, where they believe a young boy and girl are trapped, officials told a CNN team on the scene.
The parents of both children survived the attack and have been trying to call the kids' cell phones. A call went through to one of the phones, but rescuers could not hear anything.
Police at the site have brought in psychologists and a DNA testing center to help local families. A school near the blast site is providing shelter and clothing to families who lost their homes.
The Russian strike killed at least 23 people, including four children, and Ukrainian authorities expect the death toll to climb. The Uman strike came in a wave of attacks by Russia's forces across central Ukraine early Friday.
President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed what he called the “destructive” impact of bans on the import of Ukrainian grain by several European countries. The bans were enacted on the grounds that the imports were undercutting the other nations' domestic prices.
He said Friday he had discussed the issue with the President of the EU Council, Charles Michel.
“I emphasize that this not only violates the existing Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union but also gives dangerous hope to the Kremlin. The hope that in our common European home, someone's wrong decisions can prevail over common interests.”
Zelensky added: “It is necessary to find a normal, constructive way out of this situation in the European spirit.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered condolences to the families of more than 20 Ukrainians killed in Russian missile strikes on Friday, almost all of them victims of a cruise missile that struck an apartment building in the city of Uman.
“Our Air Force managed to shoot down most of the Russian missiles – 21 out of 23. If not for this, the terrorist state would have managed to claim many more casualties, more lives,” Zelensky said.
He said Ukraine could “save people only with weapons. Air defense, modern aircraft, without which there is no fully effective air defense.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he appealed to his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, this week for help returning Ukrainian children who were deported by Russia.
Zelensky shared new details about the diplomatic call, which was held Wednesday, during a joint press conference with the presidents of Slovakia and the Czech Republic Friday.
Zelensky said he used the "important conversation" to raise the plight of roughly 20,000 Ukrainian children who Kyiv accuses Russia of forcibly deporting. The Ukrainian president said foreign countries, including China, need to help Ukraine bring the kids home.
"So far, only Ukraine is helping Ukraine with the return of children," Zelensky said.
Key background: A report published in February by the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab outlined the expansive network of camps where Russia has allegedly detained Ukrainian children since the start of the war last year.
In March, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and another Kyiv official, Maria Lvova-Belova, accusing them of playing key roles in the scheme.
Beijing and Moscow: Zelensky's call with Xi comes at a time of increased Western scrutiny on China's relationship with Russia.
Putin and Xi posed as peacebrokers during a recent visit in Moscow, but the Chinese leader's proposals on ending the war have not included a call for Moscow to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian land.
Zelensky said Wednesday's call included a discussion of Ukraine's territorial integrity.
The Ukrainian leader said he also received a "positive response" from China after outlining the risks faced by any country that supplies weapons to Russia.
US officials have warned in recent months that China could be considering crossing the "red line" and providing lethal military aid to Russia. While the countries have strengthened ties, US officials say they have not seen evidence that China has provided extensive material support to the Kremlin.
CNN's Sam Fossum contributed to this report.
The US State Department is "deeply disappointed" its request to visit detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in May was denied, principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said Friday.
"We have been clear and consistent that American nationals detained abroad, especially those American citizens who are wrongfully detained like Evan, like Paul Whelan, are allotted appropriate and regular consular access by our personnel. And so we're going to continue to insist that," he said at a State Department briefing.
On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry rejected the US request to see Gershkovich, saying the decision was in response to Washington’s denial to provide visas to Russian reporters for Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to the United Nations this week.
Some background: Gershkovich was arrested in Moscow in late March on spying charges, which the Wall Street Journal has vehemently denied. Gershkovich, who faces up to 20 years in prison, is currently being held in a pre-trial detention center at the notorious Lefortovo prison until May 29.
American citizen Paul Whelan has been held in Russia for over four years. His sister attended the UN Security Council meeting that Lavrov chaired on Monday, urging for his release his remarks prior to the meeting.
The US State Department has designated both Gershkovich and Whelan as wrongfully detained.
The death toll from a Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Uman has increased to at least 23, according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. The death toll includes four children, officials said.
The strike in Uman, which is located in the central Cherkasy region, injured at least 18 other people, Ukrainian officials said earlier Friday.
There were 46 apartments inside one of the buildings that were hit, of which 27 were completely destroyed, according to Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Ihor Klymenko.
East of Uman, a woman and her 2-year-old child were killed in a strike in Dnipro, authorities said.
The self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic said nine people have been killed in shelling by Ukrainian forces in the city of Donetsk.
The DPR’s Coordination Center said that "massive shelling" killed six women, two men and an 8-year-old girl in the city center, injuring 16 others.
The coordination center said that most of the strikes had been by Ukrainian artillery using 155 mm shells targeting the central Petrovsky district. But it also claimed that multiple launch rockets had been used.
Meanwhile on Friday, Ukraine said that Russian strikes killed more than 20 people in the central city of Uman.