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Viral photo of 4-year-old girl killed in Ukraine is stark reminder war continues

The child and her mother were reportedly walking back from speech therapy class.

Warning: The following contains graphic images and video.

A Ukrainian toddler was among 23 people killed in the latest deadly Russian missile attack in Ukraine.

On Thursday, Ukrainian officials said Russian forces fired missiles on a residential area in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, one of the largest cities in Ukraine located 167 miles outside of the Kyiv, the country's capital. At least 23 people were killed in the attack, Ukrainian authorities say.

TODAY was not able to independently verify the death toll.

A photo of the slain child, tweeted by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, shows the toddler laying next to the stroller her mother was reportedly pushing her in at the time of the attack, went viral, reminding many Americans that the war in Ukraine is far from over. In the photo, the child lays lifeless — her white pants and velcro shoes blood-spattered.

The mother and her child were walking back from speech therapy class, according to a Facebook post made by a Ukrainian Down Syndrome charity. "They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," the post said.

The mom was reportedly badly injured and taken to a nearby hospital.

Related: Voicemails from Kyiv: A survivor who stayed describes what war is really like

President Zelenskyy’s wife, Olena Zelenska, posted on Instagram that after hearing of the toddler's death, she realized she had met the child while filming a Christmas video with a group of children.

Zelenska described the child as "wonderful," according to an NBC News translation of the post.

"The little mischievous girl then managed in a half an hour to paint not only herself, her holiday dress, but also all the other children, me, the cameramen and the director," she added, per the same translation. "Please see her live. I cry with her loved ones."

Video of the mother and child walking together before the attack spread quickly across social media, and was shared by a Ukrainian outlet, Grunt Media, on Telegram.

"This is a video where you see life. A young woman takes her daughter to developmental classes," the post read. "In just a few hours, the girl died as a result of a Russian terrorist attack."

NBC News has reported that President Zelenskyy has called for Russia to be declared a state sponsor of terrorism as 40 countries met in The Hague, Netherlands, to discuss coordinating investigations and prosecutions of potential war crimes committed in Ukraine.

“No other country in the world represents such a terrorist threat as Russia,” Zelenskyy said in a video address. “No other country in the world allows itself every day to use cruise missiles and rocket artillery to destroy cities and ordinary human life.”

Related: The story behind viral photo of strollers left for refugees at Polish border

At least three children under the age of 10 were among those killed in the attack, according to National Police Chief Ihor Klymenko. Only six bodies have been identified, and a reported 39 people are still missing, according to Ukraine's State Emergency service.

TODAY reached out to the Russian Embassy for comment but did not hear back at the time of publication.

The mother's Instagram is filled with photos of the mother and daughter — the child playing with a doll; blowing dandelion seeds; giving a puppy kisses; smelling pink flowers in a matching pink dress; the mother and daughter smiling for the camera in purple dresses in a field of flowers.

The attack is one of many carried out by the Russian military targeting civilians, according to U.S. Department of Defense officials. In March, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters Defense officials "certainly see clear evidence that Russian forces are committing war crimes" and were carrying out "indiscriminate attacks on civilians."

Last month, Russian forces bombed a shopping mall in central Ukraine, where at least 1,000 people were reportedly shopping at the time of the attack, according to Ukrainian officials.

At least 18 people were confirmed dead and 60 were injured, according to Serhiy Kruk, the head of Ukraine’s emergency service.

TODAY was not able to independently verify the death toll.

In March, Russian forces bombed a maternity ward near Kyiv, as well as a children's hospital in Mariupol. In early July, Russian military bombed a residential area in a coastal town near the Ukrainian port city of Odesa, killing 21 civilians, according to Ukrainian authorities.

President Joe Biden has called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "murderous dictator" and "war criminal," and in March denounced "Putin's depraved onslaught."

"This could be a long and difficult battle. But the American people will be steadfast in our support of the people in Ukraine in the face of Putin's immoral, unethical attacks on civilian populations," President Biden then said. "And we're going to continue to have their backs as they fight for their freedom, their democracy, their very survival."

EDITOR’S NOTE (July 15, 2022, 3:44 p.m. EST): An earlier version cited a local media report saying the mother has died but NBC News has not independently confirmed that.  

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