Russian missiles rock Kyiv as world leaders gather in Europe
- Russian missiles hit central Kyiv
- Officials say the kindergarten and building were hit
- Ukraine loses key city to pro-Russian forces
- G7 countries announce Russian gold ban at start of summit
- Indonesia calls for peace talks
KYIV/POKROVSK, Ukraine, June 26 (Reuters) – Russian missiles struck the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Sunday, a day after a key eastern city fell to pro-Russian forces in a major setback for the country. Ukraine and as world leaders gathered in Europe to discuss new sanctions against Moscow.
Up to four explosions rang out in central Kyiv in the early hours of the morning, in the first such attack on the city in weeks. Two more explosions were heard on the southern outskirts of the city later in the day, a Reuters reporter said.
“The Russians hit Kyiv again. Missiles damaged a building and a kindergarten,” said Andriy Yermak, head of the presidential administration.
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Ukrainian police chief Ihor Klymenko told state television that five people were injured.
As Europe’s biggest ground conflict since World War II entered its fifth month, the Western alliance supporting Kyiv began to show signs of tension as leaders worried about the mounting economic cost, including soaring food and energy prices.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaking as Group of Seven leaders gathered for a summit in Germany, said the West must maintain a united front against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“In order to protect this unity, for this to work, you have to have really, really honest discussions about the implications of what’s going on, the pressures that individual friends and partners are feeling,” he told reporters.
“But the price to pay for backing down, the price to pay to allow Putin to succeed, to hack huge parts of Ukraine, to continue his agenda of conquest, that price will be much, much higher.”
STRATEGIC CITY FALLS
Life had returned to normal in Kyiv after fierce resistance that halted Russian advances early in the war, although air raid sirens sounded regularly across the city.
There had been no major strikes in Kyiv since June.
The city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said on the Telegram messaging app that Sunday’s strike partially destroyed a nine-story building and caused a fire.
“There are people under the rubble,” Klitschko said. “They pulled out a seven-year-old girl. She’s alive. Now they’re trying to save her mother.”
Explosions were also heard on Sunday in the central city of Cherkasy, which has been largely spared from shelling so far, regional governor Oleksandr Skichko said on Telegram.
Russia denies targeting civilians, but Ukraine and the West accuse Russian forces of war crimes in a conflict that has killed thousands, sent millions fleeing Ukraine and destroyed cities.
The strategic eastern battlefield town of Sievierodonetsk fell to pro-Russian forces on Saturday after Ukrainian troops withdrew, saying there was nothing left to defend in the ruined town after months of fierce fighting .
The fall of Sievierodonetsk is a major defeat for Kyiv as it seeks to retain control of the eastern Donbass region, a key military target for the Kremlin.
Moscow says the Donbass provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk, where it has supported uprisings since 2014, are independent countries. He asks Ukraine to cede the entire territory of the two provinces to the separatist administrations.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation” to provide Russian security and de-Nazify Ukraine. Kyiv and the West say the invasion was nothing more than a land grab.
The war had a huge impact on the global economy and European security, driving up gas, oil and food prices, pushing the European Union to reduce its dependence on Russian energy and prompting Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he would urge his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts to start a dialogue during a peacebuilding mission to the warring countries and ask Putin to order an immediate ceasefire.
“War must be stopped and global food supply chains must be reactivated,” Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, said before departing to attend the G7 summit.
The United Nations has warned that a protracted war in Ukraine, one of the world’s leading grain exporters, threatens to trigger a hunger crisis around the world.
Seeking to tighten the screws on Russia further, the G7 countries announced a ban on imports of new gold from Russia as they began their summit in the Bavarian Alps. Read more
NATO leaders will hold a summit on June 29-30 in Madrid.
“IT WAS A HORROR”
The fall of Sievierodonetsk – once home to more than 100,000 people but now a wasteland – is transforming the battlefield to the east after weeks in which Moscow’s huge firepower advantage failed. had given only slow gains.
Russian news agency Interfax quoted a representative of pro-Russian separatist fighters as saying Russian and pro-Russian forces also entered Lysychansk from across the river.
Both towns were the last major towns held by Ukrainian forces in the east.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy promised in a video address on Saturday that Ukraine would recover the cities it lost, including Sievierodonetsk.
“We have no idea how long this will last, how many more hits, losses and more efforts will be needed before we see victory looming on the horizon,” he said.
In the Ukrainian Donbass city of Pokrovsk, Elena, an elderly Lysychansk woman in a wheelchair, was among dozens of evacuees who arrived by bus from frontline areas.
“Lysychansk was horrible last week. Yesterday we couldn’t take it anymore,” she said. “I already told my husband that if I died, please bury me behind the house.”
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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Michael Perry and Alex Richardson; Editing by Edmund Klamann and David Clarke
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.