Two Russian missiles hit Kyiv during a visit by United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, Ukrainian officials said.
The blasts in Kyiv on Thursday, heard shortly after talks with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres concluded Ukraine‘s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed concerns that the capital remains vulnerable.
Zelenskyy said the blasts “prove that we must not let go of our vigilance. We must not think that the war is over.”
The rockets rocked the city’s central Shevchenko district and one hit the lower floors of a 25-story apartment building, injuring at least 10 people, Ukrainian officials said.
Reuters witnesses heard two explosions, but the cause of the explosions could not be independently verified. There was no Russian comment on the explosions.
However, the West believes that fighting around the besieged port of Mariupol and other areas to the east and south could determine the outcome of the war.
Russia withdrew its forces from outside Kiev last month after failing to take the capital and launched a massive attack on Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region.
Russian forces are now entrenched in the east, where Moscow-backed separatists have held territory since 2014, and are holding on to part of the south they captured in March.
The General Staff of Ukraine said Russia is stepping up its military offensive in Donbass.
“The enemy is increasing the pace of offensive operations. The Russian occupiers are exerting intense fire in almost all directions,” it said.
Moscow’s attack in the east brought fresh US promises of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine on Thursday.
US President Joe Biden, following repeated Ukrainian requests for heavier weapons, asked Congress for $33 billion in support of Kyiv, a massive funding jump that includes over $20 billion for arms, ammunition and other military aid.
“We need this law to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom,” Biden said. “The cost of this fight – it’s not cheap – but giving in to aggression will be more expensive.”
Putin calls Moscow’s actions a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine, protect Russian speakers from persecution and prevent the United States from using the country to threaten Russia.
Ukraine dismisses Putin’s claims of persecution and says it is fighting an imperial-style land grab that has leveled Ukrainian cities, forced more than 5 million to flee abroad and killed thousands since the invasion began on February 24 .
Washington, which along with its allies has imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow, hopes that Ukrainian forces can not only repel Russia’s attack to the east, but also weaken its military so it can no longer threaten its neighbors.
Russia views NATO’s actions as tantamount to waging a “proxy war” against them and this week issued a series of unspecified threats of retaliation.
It halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday after they refused to pay in rubles, marking Moscow’s harshest response yet to Western economic sanctions.
Russia has reported a series of Ukrainian attacks on Russian regions bordering Ukraine and has warned that such attacks risk escalating significantly.
Two large explosions were heard in the Russian city of Belgorod near the border with Ukraine on Thursday, two witnesses told Reuters. What caused it and whether there were injuries or damage was unclear.
Ukraine has not directly claimed responsibility for strikes in Russia but says the incidents are a payback. Russia has taken offense at comments by NATO member Britain that it is legitimate for Ukraine to attack Russian logistics.
“In the West, they are openly calling on Kyiv to attack Russia, including using weapons they received from NATO countries,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters in Moscow.
“I’m not advising you to try our patience any further.”
The US mission to the OSCE security agency said the Kremlin could attempt “sham referendums” in the southern and eastern areas it had seized since the February 24 invasion, using “a worn playbook composed of the darkest chapters steals history”.
“These fake, illegitimate referendums will no doubt be accompanied by a wave of insults directed at those who seek to oppose or undermine Moscow’s plans,” the US mission said. There was no immediate Russian comment.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/we-must-not-think-the-war-is-over-zelensky-condemns-russian-rocket-strike-as-un-chief-visited-kyiv-41599086.html “We must not believe that the war is over” – Zelenskyj condemns the Russian rocket attack during a visit of the UN chief in Kyiv