Russia strikes Ukraine’s capital Kyiv for the first time in weeks as war erupts in the east
Russia attacked Ukraine’s capital Kyiv with missiles early Sunday for the first time in more than a month, while Ukrainian officials said a retaliatory strike on the main battlefield in the east had retaken half of the city of Svyarodonetsk.
After the attack on two outlying districts of Kyiv, thick smoke could be seen from several miles away. Ukraine said the strike affected rail car repair work; Moscow said it had destroyed tanks sent to Ukraine by Eastern European countries.
At least one person was hospitalized, although there were no immediate reports of death. The strike was a sudden reminder of war in a capital where normal life has largely returned since the Russian army was driven out of its outskirts in March.
“The Kremlin resorts to new insidious attacks. Today’s missile strikes in Kyiv have only one goal – to kill as many people as possible,” tweeted Mikhailo Podolik, adviser to the Ukrainian President.
Ukraine said Russia had attacked as far as the Caspian Sea using long-range aerial missiles fired from heavy bombers – a weapon far more valuable than the tanks that Russia claimed to have hit.
Ukraine’s nuclear power operator said a Russian cruise missile had “severely blown down” over the country’s second largest nuclear power plant.
Sunday’s attack was the first major attack on Kyiv since late April, when a missile killed a journalist. Russia in recent weeks has focused mainly on its destructive power in the east and south, although Moscow sometimes calls a campaign to degrade Ukraine’s military infrastructure and block Western arms shipments.
Ukraine claims half SIEVIERODONETSK
Russia has focused its forces in recent weeks on the small eastern industrial town of Svyarodonetsk, in one of the war’s biggest ground battles to capture one of the two eastern provinces, claimed by separatist proxies. Is.
After relentless retreats into the city in recent days, Ukraine launched a counter-offensive there, which it says took the Russians by surprise. After recapturing a part of the city, Ukrainian forces now controlled half of it and continued to push back the Russians, said Serhi Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, which includes Svyarodonetsk.
The claims could not be independently verified. Both sides say they have inflicted heavy casualties at Svyarodonetsk, a battle that could determine which side will pick up the momentum in the coming months into the long-running battle.
In another sign Ukraine has halted the Russian advance, Gaidai said evacuations from the Ukrainian-occupied part of Luhansk province resumed on Sunday, and 98 people survived. Russian forces have been trying for weeks to cut off a main road to encircle Ukrainian troops there, and the evacuation was halted last week after a journalist was killed in a gunfight.
Britain’s defense ministry said on Sunday that Ukraine’s counter-attack at Svyarodonetsk in the past 24 hours is likely to blunt any operational momentum achieved by Russia. It said Moscow is deploying poorly equipped separatist fighters to the city to limit the risk to its regular forces.
In the neighboring Donetsk province, which Moscow also claims from its separatist proxies, Russian forces have been advancing in recent days into the area north of the Siversky Donets River, which Ukraine estimates as an attack on the major city of Sloviansk. There may be a push.
Ukrainian officials said at least eight people were killed and 11 wounded in Russian shelling in the province overnight.
Addressing 35,000 people in Rome on Sunday, Pope Francis said more than 100 days had passed since “the beginning of an armed offensive against Ukraine”, and called the war “a neglect of God’s dream”.
cracking weapons like nuts
In an interview with Russian state television, President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would hit new targets if the West supplied Ukraine with long-range missiles. But he also dismissed the impact of the advanced rocket systems offered to Ukraine by Washington last week, saying these would not affect the course of the battle.
The United States is already training Ukrainian troops on its HIMARS rocket launchers, which will be capable of hitting positions behind Russian lines. Kyiv says that such weapons will help change the pace of war.
Putin said in excerpts from his interview quoted by Russian news agencies before the broadcast that if the West supplies long-range missiles, “we will strike targets we haven’t hit yet”, specifying targets. without.
The Russian military was shooting down Ukrainian weapons systems and “cracking them like crazy”, he said, dismissing the new US rockets as “to make up for the loss of this military equipment” and the battlefield. The balance is unlikely to change.
Kyiv on Saturday rebuked French President Emmanuel Macron for saying it was important not to “humiliate” Moscow.
Ukraine has considered pressure from some European allies to leave the region in order to secure a ceasefire.
In response to Macron’s remarks, Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba tweeted: “Calling to avoid insulting Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that demands it.”