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Russia strikes blood transfusion center as world leaders meet to discuss peace

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack a war crime.
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A Russian “guided air bomb” hit a blood transfusion center in northeast Ukraine Saturday night, killing two people and injuring four, Ukrainian officials said. 

“This war crime alone says everything about Russian aggression,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in Telegram post, alongside a picture of a building engulfed in flames.

He said that a “guided air bomb” had hit the blood transfusion center in the northeastern city of Kupiansk.

In a separate post on his own Telegram channel, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said initial reports suggested two men had died and another four were injured in the “large scale fire.”

Houses and farm buildings were also damaged, he said, adding that residential housing and other agricultural buildings had also been struck in nearby villages.

NBC News could not independently verify the claims, and Russia has repeatedly denied deliberately targeting civilians in what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, although Western leaders and Ukraine’s armed forces estimate thousands of people, both military members and civilians, have been killed and that millions more have been displaced.   

The city of Kupiansk and its outlying settlements are in Kharkiv, which were seized by Russian troops in the early days of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. 

The area was liberated during a Ukrainian counteroffensive in September but has since come under heavy shelling and attacks. 

Elsewhere, the Moscow-appointed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, said in a Telegram post that the Chongar Bridge, which links the peninsula to the Russian occupied Ukrainian mainland, had been hit with a “missile strike.”

“One hit, some of the missiles were shot down by air defense forces,” he said. “There is damage to the roadbed of the automobile bridge, repair work is already beginning. There are no victims.”

Farther north, Alexei Kulemzin, the Russian-installed mayor of the city of Donetsk said a fire had broken out at the University of Economics and Trade after 40 missiles were fired in its vicinity.

Alexei Kostrubitsky, the Russian-installed Donetsk regional emergency minister, told Reuters that Ukrainian forces had used cluster munitions in the shelling, which had caused the fire.

NBC News could not verify these claims, but both sides have used cluster munitions over the course of the invasion. 

The intense overnight fighting came as officials from 40 different countries, including the U.S. and China, met in Jeddah to begin Ukraine-organized peace talks seeking to find a way to start negotiations over Russia’s war on the country.

Ukrainian and Western diplomats hope that the senior officials from countries across both the global North and South will agree on key principles for a future peace settlement to end Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia was not invited.

The renewed global push to peace comes as Russia exited a Turkey and U.N.-backed deal in July allowing for the safe export of Ukrainian grain, causing a jump in global food prices.