Russia hits Kyiv as troops consolidate gains in the east

The Independence Monument overlooking Maidan Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, June 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

The Independence Monument overlooking Maidan Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, June 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

PA

Russia attacked the Ukrainian capital in the early hours of Sunday morning, hitting at least two residential buildings, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said, as Russian troops elsewhere consolidated their gains in the east.

Associated Press reporters in Kyiv saw emergency services battling the flames and rescuing civilians. Klitschko said four people were hospitalized with injuries and a 7-year-old girl was pulled alive from the rubble. Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said on Telegram that a kindergarten was hit in the attacks.

Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Goncharenko wrote on the Telegram messaging app that “according to preliminary data, 14 missiles were launched against the Kyiv and Kyiv region.” Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said the missiles were Kh-101 air-launched cruise missiles fired from planes over the Caspian Sea.

Prior to Sunday’s early morning attack, Kyiv had not faced such Russian airstrikes since June 5.

Klitschko told reporters he thought “this may be a token attack” ahead of this week’s NATO summit in Madrid.

Two more explosions were later heard in Kyiv, but their cause and possible victims were not immediately clear.

President Joe Biden, asked about his reaction to Sunday’s Russian missile strikes on Kyiv, said: ‘It’s more of their barbarity’, as he stood alongside Olaf Scholz as the German Chancellor greeted the leaders arriving to open the Group of Seven summit.

Meanwhile, Russian forces have sought to engulf the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the eastern Lugansk region, building on their momentum after taking full control on Saturday of the charred ruins of Sievierodonetsk and the chemical plant where hundreds of soldiers and Ukrainian civilians had been locked up. .

Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk region which includes Sievierodonetsk, said on Sunday that Russia was carrying out intense airstrikes on the adjacent town of Lysychansk, destroying its TV tower and badly damaging a road bridge.

“There is a lot of destruction – Lysychansk is almost unrecognizable,” he wrote on Facebook.

Also on Sunday, US President Joe Biden said the United States and other major Group of Seven economies intended to announce a ban on gold imports from Russia. They hope that this measure will further isolate Russia economically following its invasion of Ukraine.

Senior Biden administration officials have said gold is Moscow’s second-biggest export after energy, and banning imports would make it harder for Russia to participate in global markets.

Biden’s Twitter feed said Russia is “raking in tens of billions of dollars” from the sale of its gold, its second-biggest export after energy.

On Saturday, Russia also launched dozens of missiles at several areas across the country away from the heart of eastern battles. Some of the missiles were fired by Russian Tu-22 long-range bombers deployed from Belarus for the first time, Ukraine’s air command said.

The bombardment preceded a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, during which Putin announced that Russia planned to supply Belarus with the Iskander-M missile system.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said late Saturday that separatist forces backed by Russia and Moscow now control Sievierodonetsk and the villages surrounding it. He said the attempt by Ukrainian forces to turn the Azot plant into a “stubborn center of resistance” had been thwarted.

Haidai confirmed on Saturday that Sievierodonetsk had fallen to Russian and separatist fighters, who he said were now trying to blockade Lysychansk from the south.

Russian news agency Interfax quoted a spokesman for the separatist forces, Andrei Marochko, as saying that Russian troops and separatist fighters had entered Lysychansk and fighting was taking place in the heart of the city. There was no immediate comment on the Ukrainian side’s claim.

Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk were the focal point of a Russian offensive aimed at capturing all of Donbass and destroying the Ukrainian army defending it – the most capable and battle-hardened segment of the country’s armed forces.

Capturing Lysychansk would give Russian forces control of every major settlement in the province, an important step towards Russia’s goal of capturing all of Donbass. The Russians and the separatists control about half of Donetsk, the second province of Donbass.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the Russian-Ukrainian War at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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