Ukraine war: Father holds dead son's hand after Russian shelling hits bus stop in Kharkiv

A police officer, right, comforts a man as he holds the hand of his son killed in a Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Credit: AP

A 13-year-old boy was killed by Russian shelling at a bus stop in Ukraine's second city of Kharkiv on Wednesday, officials said.

A heart-wrenching image from the scene shows the boy's father sitting on the ground while holding his son's lifeless hand.

An elderly couple, a 69-year-old man and a 68-year-old woman were also killed at the bus station.

The teenager's 15-year-old sister, who had been waiting with him, was injured and taken to hospital, emergency services said, while a 72-year-old woman was also among those injured.

The shelling was carried out using the "Hurricane" salvo rocket systems, Kharkiv's regional prosecutor's office said.

Ukraine's presidential office said at least 13 civilians had been killed and a further 40 wounded by Russian shelling across the country in a 24-hour period.

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Meanwhile, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Moscow's military "tasks" in Ukraine had expanded beyond the eastern Donbas region.

This was the clearest message so far from Russia that the country has expanded the goals of its invasion.

According to Reuters, the foreign minister told Russian state media: "Now the geography is different, it's far from being just the DPR and LPR, it's also Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions and a number of other territories."

He added that the expansion will continue if the West delivers more weapons to Ukraine.

Rescuers load the body of a victim killed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv on Wednesday. Credit: AP

After failing to capture Kyiv, Ukraine's capital at the start of the war, Russia said in March it would focus on "the liberation of Donbas".

Since, Vladimir Putin's forces have taken Luhansk, one of two provinces that comprise the Donbas. However, it is yet to capture the remaining region, Donetsk.

Mr Lavrov spoke a day after the White House said it had amassed “ample” new evidence that Russia hopes to annex additional Ukraine territory and could hold a “sham” public vote as soon as September.