Kyiv, Ukraine (AFP) – Russia attacked the Ukrainian capital in the early hours of Sunday morning, bombing at least two apartment buildings, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said, as Russian forces consolidated their gains in the east.
Associated Press reporters in Kyiv watched rescue services fight fires and rescue civilians. Klitschko said four people were taken to hospital with injuries and a 7-year-old girl was pulled alive from under the rubble. Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said on Telegram that a kindergarten had been hit in the attacks.
Member of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksiy Goncharenko wrote on the Telegram messaging application that “according to preliminary data, 14 missiles were launched against the Kiev and Kiev region.” Air Force spokesman Yuri Ignat said the missiles are Kh-101 cruise missiles launched from aircraft over the Caspian Sea.
Prior to the early Sunday morning attack, Kyiv had not faced any such Russian airstrikes since 5 June.
Klitschko told reporters he thought it “may be a symbolic attack” ahead of this week’s NATO summit in Madrid.
Two more explosions were heard later in Kyiv, but it was not immediately clear what caused them and the possible casualties.
Asked by President Joe Biden about his reaction to Sunday’s Russian missile strikes on Kyiv, “It’s more than their barbarism,” President Joe Biden said, as he stood with Olaf Schulz as the German chancellor greeted leaders who arrived to open the G7 summit.
Meanwhile, Russian forces are seeking to swallow up the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the eastern Luhansk region, squeezing their momentum after taking full control on Saturday of the charred ruins of Severodonetsk and the chemical plant where hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are holed up. .
Serhiy Haiday, governor of the Luhansk region that includes Severodonetsk, said Sunday that Russia is carrying out intense air strikes on the neighboring city of Lyschansk, destroying the TV tower and seriously damaging a road bridge.
“There is so much destruction – Lysychansk is almost unrecognizable,” he wrote on Facebook.
Also on Sunday, US President Joe Biden said the US and the other seven major economies intend to announce a ban on gold imports from Russia. They hope that this measure will lead to further economic isolation of Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine.
Senior officials in the Biden administration have said that gold is Moscow’s second largest export after energy, and that banning imports will make it difficult for Russia to participate in global markets.
Biden’s tweet said Russia was “making tens of billions of dollars” selling its gold, its second-largest export after energy.
On Saturday, Russia also launched dozens of missiles at several areas across the country far from the heart of the eastern battles. Ukraine’s Air Command said some of the missiles were fired from Russian Tu-22 long-range bombers deployed from Belarus for the first time.
The bombing was preceded by a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, during which Putin announced that Russia plans to supply Belarus with the Iskander-M missile system.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said late on Saturday that Russian separatist and Moscow-backed forces were now in control of Severodonetsk and surrounding villages. He said that an attempt by Ukrainian forces to turn the nitrogen plant into a “stubborn center of resistance” had been thwarted.
Hayday confirmed on Saturday that Severodonetsk had fallen into the hands of Russian fighters and separatists he said were now trying to besiege Lysechansk from the south.
The Russian Interfax news agency quoted a spokesman for the separatist forces, Andrei Maroshko, as saying that Russian forces and separatist fighters had entered Lysechansk and that fighting was taking place in the heart of the city. There was no immediate comment on the claim from the Ukrainian side.
Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk were the focal point of the Russian offensive aimed at capturing all the Donbass islands and destroying the Ukrainian army defending them – the most capable and hard-to-fight part of the country’s armed forces.
The capture of Lysichansk would give Russian forces control of every major settlement in the province, an important step toward Russia’s goal of capturing all of Donbass. Russians and separatists control about half of Donetsk, the second province of Donbass.
Follow the Associated Press’ coverage of the Russian-Ukrainian war on https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine