KYIV: Russian missiles hit an apartment block and kindergarten in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Sunday, in strikes US President Joe Biden condemned as “barbarism” as world leaders gathered in Europe to discuss further sanctions against Moscow.
Up to four explosions shook central Kyiv in the early hours, in the first such attack on the city in weeks.
“The Russians hit Kyiv again. Missiles damaged an apartment building and a kindergarten,” said Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s administration.
A photographer saw a large blast crater by a playground in a kindergarten that had smashed windows. Deputy Mayor Mykola Povoroznyk said one person was killed and six wounded. He said explosions heard later in other parts if Kyiv were air defences destroying further incoming missiles.
Russia has stepped up air strikes on Ukraine this weekend, which has also seen the fall of a strategic eastern city to pro-Russian forces.Life had been returning to normal in Kyiv after fierce resistance held off Russian advances in the early phase of the war, although air raid sirens regularly sound across the city. There had been no major strikes on Kyiv since early June.
The city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said on the Telegram messaging app that some people were trapped in the rubble of a nine-storey apartment block after Sunday’s strike. “They have pulled out a seven-year-old girl,” Klitschko said. “She is alive. Now they’re trying to rescue her mother.”
A Ukrainian air force spokesperson said the strike was carried out with 4-6 long-range missiles fired from Russian bombers more than 1,000 kilometres away in the southern Russian region of Astrakhan. Russian missiles also struck the central city of Cherkasy, which until now had been largely untouched by bombardment, according to regional authorities, who said one person had been killed and five others wounded.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said the attack also hit a strategic bridge linking western Ukraine and the eastern battlefields. “They are trying to limit the transfer of our reserves and Western weapons to the east,” he said in a message.
Russia’s defence ministry said it had used high-precision weapons to strike Ukrainian army training centres in the regions of Chernihiv, Zhytomyr and Lviv, an apparent reference to strikes reported by Ukraine on Saturday. There was no immediate comment about Sunday’s strikes on Kyiv or Cherkasy.
Russia denies targeting civilians, but Ukraine and the West accuse Russian forces of war crimes in a war that has killed thousands, sent millions fleeing Ukraine and destroyed cities.
The eastern battlefield city of Sievierodonetsk fell to pro-Russian forces on Saturday after Ukrainian troops retreated, saying there was no longer anything to defend in the ruined city after months of fierce fighting.
It was a major defeat for Kyiv as it seeks to keep control of two eastern provinces, Luhansk and Donetsk, that form the Donbas region, which Moscow demands Kyiv cede to separatists.
The RIA agency quoted a pro-Russian separatist official as saying separatist forces had evacuated more than 250 people, including children, on Sunday from Sievierodonetsk’s Azot chemical plant. The plant’s surrounding industrial area was the last part of Sievierodonetsk held by Ukrainian forces.
Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the same official as saying forces were now advancing on Lysychansk across the river from Sievierodonetsk. Lysychansk is now the last major city held by Ukraine in Luhansk.
In the Ukrainian-held Donbas town of Pokrovsk, Elena, an elderly woman from Lysychansk in a wheelchair, was among dozens of evacuees who arrived by bus from frontline areas. “Lysychansk, it was a horror, the last week. Yesterday we could not take it any more,” she said. “I already told my husband if I die, please bury me behind the house.”
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2022