The death toll from a Russian missile strike on an eastern Ukrainian restaurant increased – nine on Wednesday, as Kiev minimized the Wagner mutiny’s influence on combat.
Three children were among those killed at the Ria Pizza restaurant, while at least 56 people were injured.
The restaurant is famous among soldiers and journalists in Kramatorsk, one of the main cities still under Ukrainian control in the east.
“Search and rescue operations and debris removal are ongoing,” Ukraine’s state emergency service said on social media.
“The bodies of 9 dead people — including 3 children — were retrieved from under the rubble,” it said.
Days after Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin’s aborted rebellion, widely seen as the biggest threat to Kremlin authority in decades, Kyiv said the mutiny’s influence on fighting was minimal.
“Unfortunately, Prigozhin gave up too quickly. So there was no time for this demoralising effect to penetrate Russian trenches,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN in a video published Wednesday.
On the same day that Belarus welcomed Prigozhin into exile, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to bolster his power by congratulating regular troops for averting civil conflict.
However, as Moscow revealed plans to disband Wagner fighters, Putin’s arch-foe, jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, unleashed a stinging attack on the president in his first remarks since the paramilitary revolt.
“There is no bigger threat to Russia than Putin’s regime,” Navalny said on social media.