- Russian missiles hit a house in Kyiv
- People trapped in the rubble, rescue operations underway
- Ukraine loses a key city to pro-Russian forces
- At the beginning of the summit, the G7 countries announced a Russian gold ban
- Indonesia calls for peace talks
Kyiv/POKROVSK, Ukraine, June 26 (Reuters) – Russian missiles struck Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Sunday, a day after a key eastern city was demolished by pro-Russian forces in a major setback for Ukraine and as World leaders gathered in Europe to discuss further sanctions against Moscow.
As Europe’s biggest land conflict since World War II entered its fifth month, the western coalition backing Kyiv showed signs of straining. Britain said on Saturday it believed Ukraine could win but feared it could be pressured into a “bad” peace deal.
Russian missiles struck Kiev’s central Shevchenkivskiy district on Sunday morning, partially destroying a nine-story apartment building and causing a fire, the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app.
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“People are lying under the rubble,” Klitschko said. He added that several people had already been hospitalized.
“They (the rescuers) pulled out a seven-year-old girl. She’s alive. Now they’re trying to save her mother.”
At least five people were injured, Ukrainian police chief Ihor Klymenko said on national television.
Life in Kyiv had returned to normal after fierce resistance halted the Russian advance in the early stages of the war, although air raid sirens could be heard regularly across the city.
There had been no major strikes in Kyiv since June.
Russia denies attacking civilians, but Ukraine and the West accuse Russian forces of war crimes in a conflict that has killed thousands, millions fled Ukraine and destroyed cities.
The main eastern battlefield town of Sievierodonetsk fell to pro-Russian forces on Saturday after Ukrainian troops withdrew and said there was nothing left to defend in the devastated city 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 Luhansk and Donetsk, where it has supported insurgencies since 2014, are independent countries. She calls on Ukraine to cede the entire territory of the two provinces to separatist administrations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, calling it a “special military operation” to ensure Russian security and denazify Ukraine. Kyiv and the West say the invasion was nothing more than a land grab by Putin.
The war had a huge impact on the world economy and European security, driving up gas, oil and food prices, urging the European Union to reduce its dependence on Russian energy and prompting Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership .
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he would urge his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts to engage in dialogue during a peace-building mission in the warring countries and would ask Putin to order an immediate ceasefire.
“The war must be stopped and the global food supply chains must be reactivated,” Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, said before heading off for a Group of Seven (G7) summit meeting that begins in Germany on Sunday.
The United Nations has warned that a protracted war in Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, threatens to trigger a global hunger crisis.
To further tighten the screws on Russia, the G7 announced a ban on imports of new gold from Russia as they began their summit in the Bavarian Alps.
“The measures announced today will hit the Russian oligarchs directly and hit the heart of Putin’s war machine,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
NATO leaders will hold a summit in Madrid on June 29-30.
“IT WAS A HORROR”
The fall of Sievierodonetsk – once home to more than 100,000 people, now a wasteland – is transforming the battlefield to the east after weeks in which Moscow’s enormous firepower advantage had only slowly increased.
Russian news agency Interfax quoted a representative of pro-Russian separatists as saying Russian and pro-Russian troops also entered Lysychansk across the river.
The two cities were the last major cities held by Ukrainian forces in the east.
Zelenskyy promised in a video speech on Saturday that Ukraine would win back the lost cities, including Sievierodonetsk.
“We have no idea how long it will take, how many hits, losses and efforts it will take before we see victory on the horizon,” he said.
Oleksiy Arestovych, Zelenskyi’s senior adviser, said some Ukrainian special forces were still in Sieverodonetsk, directing artillery fire at the Russians. But he never mentioned that these forces offered direct resistance. Continue reading
Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, said Russian forces fired on Saturday at the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk, where hundreds of civilians were trapped, and also shelled the villages of Pavlograd and Synetsky.
Both Ukraine and Russia have exchanged accusations of shooting at Azot, with Russian-backed separatists in the region saying evacuations have been halted due to Ukrainian shelling.
In the Ukrainian-occupied Donbass city of Pokrovsk, Elena, an elderly woman from Lysyhansk in a wheelchair, was among dozens of evacuees arriving by bus from frontline areas.
“Lysychansk, it was horrible last week. We couldn’t stand it anymore yesterday,” she said. “I have already told my husband that if I die, please bury me behind the house.”
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Reporting by Reuters bureaus; writing by Michael Perry and Alex Richardson; Edited by Edmund Klamann and David Clarke
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.