Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said a situation in Kyiv where a nine-year-old girl, her mother and another woman were killed in a Russian air strike after trying to access a closed air raid shelter “should never happen again.”
“First of all, my condolences to the families and friends of those whose lives were taken by Russia, taken by Russian air strikes,” Zelensky said in his nightly video message Thursday evening. “We are doing our best to protect people.”
He went on to say that there have been no international negotiations where the issue of Ukrainian air defense has not been raised.
“But protecting people means protecting them at all levels,” Zelensky continued. “Shelters must be accessible.”
He insisted that the local authorities have a “very specific duty” to ensure the shelters are available and accessible “around the clock.” And if this duty is neglected, Zelensky said, it’s the duty of law enforcement “to bring justice.”
The Ukrainian President’s comments appeared aimed at Kyiv city authorities including Mayor Vitali Klitschko, with whom Zelensky has periodically clashed during the war with Russia.
Police have already opened a criminal investigation into the three deaths, which occurred near a medical clinic amid the 18th Russian attack on the Ukrainian capital city in roughly a month.
Moscow has denied targeting civilians or committing war crimes even as its air strikes have caused devastation in cities across Ukraine amid Russia’s more than 15-month long invasion of its sovereign neighbor.
The deaths of the trio outside the air raid shelter has prompted calls for residents to habitually check shelters and report safety violations.