Russian missiles aim at Kyiv as troops fortify positions in the east

Russia attacked the Ukrainian capital Kyiv for the first time in weeks, hitting at least two residential buildings.

Our specialists in the city said that early on Sunday morning, rescuers fought the fire and rescued civilians, and the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, said that two people were injured.

People’s Deputy of Ukraine Oleksiy Goncharenko wrote in the Telegram messenger that “according to preliminary data, 14 missiles were fired in the Kyiv region and Kyiv.”

Prior to the attack, Kyiv had not been hit by Russian aircraft since June 5.

Close

Sandbags with the word HELP and flags from all over the world are displayed in the center of Kyiv. (Nariman El-Mofti/AP)

Meanwhile, Russian forces are trying to consolidate their gains in the east by swallowing up the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the Lugansk region after Ukrainian troops withdraw from the charred ruins of Severodonetsk.

The military said the Moscow-backed separatists now have full control of the chemical plant, which was the last Ukrainian stronghold in the city.

On Saturday, Russia launched dozens of rockets into several areas of the country far from the center of the battles in the east.

Some of the missiles were fired from Russian Tu-22 long-range bombers, deployed for the first time from the territory of Belarus, the command of the Ukrainian Air Force reported.

The shelling 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 Saturday that Russian and Moscow-backed separatist forces now control Severodonetsk and its surrounding villages.

He said an attempt by Ukrainian forces to turn the Azot plant into a “stubborn center of resistance” had been thwarted.

The governor of the Luhansk region, Sergei Gaidai, confirmed on Friday that Ukrainian troops were retreating from Severodonetsk after weeks of shelling and fighting for houses.

On Saturday, he said the city had been taken over by Russians and separatist fighters, who he said were now trying to blockade Lysichansk from the south. The city is located across the river to the west of Severodonetsk.

Close

Ruins of the sports complex of the National Technical University in Kharkiv, Ukraine. (Andrey Marienko/AP)

Capturing Lisichansk would give Russian troops control of every major population center in the province, an important step towards Russia’s goal of capturing the entire Donbas. Russians and separatists control about half of Donetsk, the second region in Donbas.

The Russian news agency Interfax quoted separatist forces spokesman Andrei Marochko as saying that Russian troops and separatist fighters had entered Lisichansk and that fighting was taking place in the city center.

There were no immediate comments on the claim from the Ukrainian side.

Lisichansk and Severodonetsk were the focus of the Russian offensive aimed at seizing the entire Donbas and destroying the Ukrainian military defending it – the most combat-ready and battle-hardened segment of the country’s armed forces.

Close

People evacuated from a war-torn area sit on an evacuation train with their dog as they wait to depart in Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, Saturday. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Russian bombardment reduced much of Severodonetsk to rubble and reduced its population from 100,000 to 10,000.

In southern Ukraine along the Black Sea coast, nine rockets fired from Crimea hit the port city of Mykolaiv on Saturday, the Ukrainian military said.

In the north, about 20 missiles were fired from Belarus into the Chernihiv region.

The military intelligence service of Ukraine said that the use of Belarusian airspace by Russian bombers for the first time for Saturday’s attack was “directly related to the Kremlin’s attempts to drag Belarus into the war.”

Close

A boy removes broken glass from a window frame after shelling in Donetsk. (Aleksey Aleksandrov/AP)

Belarus hosts Russian military units and was used as a foothold before Russia invaded Ukraine, but its own troops have not crossed the border.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a late-night video message that as the war, which Moscow had expected to last five days, moved into its fifth month, Russia “felt obligated to put on such a missile show.”

According to him, the war was at a difficult stage, “when we know that the enemy will not succeed, when we understand that we can protect our country, but we don’t know how long it will take, how many more attacks, losses and efforts will be made before we see that victory is already on our horizon.”