Russia targeted the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv with a series of missile attacks on Sunday as leaders of the G7 countries gathered in Germany for the first day of their annual summit.
Ukraine’s national police chief Ihor Klymenko said one person died and five others injured in a Russian missile strike that hit a residential building in Kyiv.
Among the injured was a 7-year-old girl, he said. Her mother, a 35-year-old woman named Katerina, was rescued from the rubble and put in an ambulance. She is a Russian citizen, but lived in Kyiv for a long time.
A CNN crew on the ground spoke to the injured girl’s grandmother, Natalia Nikitina, who found out about the attack online and rushed to the building, where she cried as she watched the crews attempt to save his daughter-in-law.
“There is nothing worse than losing loved ones. Why do we deserve this?” she said. A huge plume of smoke continued to billow from the building two hours after the strike, while almost all windows were blown out on the top floor and the floor was covered in debris and twisted metal.
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said “strategic bombers” were used to hit the capital, with “four to six missiles” launched. He added that on Saturday Russia used Tu22M3 long-range bombers from Belarus airspace for the first time in a Ukrainian airstrike.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram that there were several explosions in the Shevchenkivskyi district of the city and that search and rescue operations were launched after a fire broke out when a residential building had been hit by a rocket.
“There are people who are trapped under the rubble. Some residents were evacuated, with two victims hospitalized. Rescuers are continuing their work,” he said.
Speaking to CNN on the spot, Klitschko said Russia’s war on Ukraine was “senseless” and that thousands of civilians had died, and added: “We must do everything to stop this war.”
Ukraine’s state emergency service said the fire was caused by “enemy shelling” and spread over an area of 300 square meters, in “a 9-story residential building with partial destruction of 7th, 9th and 9th floors”.
The same neighborhood was hit by a missile strike in early May and was also targeted in March.
Vadym Denysenko, adviser to the interior minister, told Ukrainian television that there are “a number of military infrastructures located in the Shevchenkivskyi district of the Ukrainian capital. That’s why the Russians are bombing this neighborhood.
US President Joe Biden called Sunday’s attack “more than [Russian] barbarism.” He declined to answer when asked if the strikes were a deliberate provocation at the G7 summit.
After the key city of Severodonetsk was confirmed by Ukraine on Saturday to be “completely under Russian occupation”, the eastern region of Lugansk is now almost entirely under Russian control. However, Ukrainian forces continue to defend the nearby town of Lysychansk, which has come under increasing Russian artillery and rocket attacks.
On Sunday, the head of the military administration of neighboring Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said Russian forces were assembling for new assaults in the region, nearly half of which is under Ukrainian control.
“We are now seeing the buildup of troops, heavy armored vehicles and artillery towards Sloviansk,” Kyrylenko told Ukrainian television.
“The enemy is using its well-known tactics, trying to get closer to our line of defense in order to fire artillery at the cities. The enemy artillery is already reaching parts of Sloviansk. This is another confirmation that people have to evacuate.
Throughout the offensive in the east, Russian forces used intense artillery and rocket bombardment before trying to take ground. They attack areas of Donetsk from three directions.
Kyrylenko said there was a missile strike and rocket attacks on Kurakhove, a town on Donetsk’s southern front line that has been the target of Russian attacks for more than two months. Avdiivka was also hit by rockets, he said.
As Russian forces step up their offensive in eastern Ukraine, the city of Kharkiv and its surroundings are once again under heavy artillery fire.
Russia will transfer nuclear-capable Iskander-M missile systems to Belarus over the next few months, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday during a meeting in St. Petersburg.
“In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus the Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which, as you know, can use both ballistic and cruise missiles, both in conventional and nuclear versions,” said Putin told Lukashenko, according to the Kremlin. .
In a transcript of the meeting, Lukashenko expressed to Putin his ‘stress’ and worries and about what he claims were flights of US and NATO planes ‘practicing to carry nuclear warheads’ near the Belarusian border.
Lukashenko asked Putin to consider “a mirror response” to the flights or to convert the Russian Su-35 fighter jets, which are currently deployed in Belarus, so that “they can carry nuclear warheads”.
Putin replied that although it is possible to match the American flights, “it is not necessary”, and suggested this because the Belarusian army has a large number of Su-25 planes which can be converted to nuclear-capable aircraft instead.
The Iskander-M is a Russian-built short-range ballistic missile system that can carry conventional or nuclear warheads with a maximum range of 500 km (310 miles), according to Janes Defense.
On Saturday, Ukraine said it was hit for the first time by attacks launched from Belarusian airspace.
President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson officially announced on Sunday that G7 countries would ban the import of Russian gold, the country’s second largest export after energy.
Biden tweeted during the Sunday announcement in Germany: “The United States has imposed unprecedented costs on Putin to deny him the revenue he needs to fund his war on Ukraine. Together, the G7 will announce that we will ban the import of Russian gold, a major export that earns Russia tens of billions of dollars.
Biden also remarked on the unity of the G7 and NATO on Ukraine and the Russian invasion, telling German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that the G7 and NATO will stick together and “not split.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the price to pay to allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to “continue his agenda of conquest” is far greater than the current cost.
“The price to pay for backing down, the price to pay to allow Putin to succeed, to hack huge parts of Ukraine, to continue his agenda of conquest, that price will be much, much higher. Everyone here understands that,” Johnson said in an interview on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Germany.