Russian missiles hit Kyiv, as Putin issues warning to the West
By Valerie Hopkins and Cora Engelbrecht
Russian airstrikes hit Ukraine’s capital early Sunday, injuring at least one person, officials said, and piercing a sense of relative security that had settled over the city as the country’s forces slow Russia’s grinding onslaught in the east.
While the fight has been centered in recent weeks in the east, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kyiv region, the strike on the capital offered a sobering reminder that Moscow can still lash out virtually at will on most of Ukraine.
At least five missiles hit the capital, Kyiv, about 5 a.m. near a railway station and other targets, the first shelling reported in the city in more than a month. Russia said the strikes had destroyed tanks and armored vehicles supplied by Eastern European allies, a claim that Ukrainian officials denied. The attack came as President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow would hit targets it had so far avoided if Western nations began delivering longer-range missiles to Ukraine.
The focus of fighting Sunday remained in the eastern Donbas region, where powerful explosions were also heard in the Ukrainian-held city of Kramatorsk, with at least one person reported killed.
Street fights raged in the contested city of Sievierodonetsk, the last major pocket of Ukrainian control in the Luhansk area, which forms part of Donbas. The governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai, said Sunday that Ukrainian forces had wrested back part of the city, though the eastern half remained under Russian control.
In its latest intelligence update, the British Defense Ministry said that Ukrainian counterattacks were “likely blunting the operational momentum” of Russian forces in Sievierodonetsk, which the ministry said included separatist fighters who were “poorly equipped and trained” and lacked the heavy equipment of regular units.
Seizing Sievierodonetsk would give Russia total control of Luhansk and perhaps pave the way for a renewed offensive to capture all of the industrial Donbas region, a major objective for Putin after his forces failed to take Kyiv and other parts of northern Ukraine in the early weeks of the war, which began in February.
In other developments:
— Ukraine’s World Cup dream is over. Wales won 1-0 on the cruelest of twists for Ukraine. The difference was a first-half own goal by Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko.
— President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine visited front-line troops and displaced civilians in the Zaporizhzhia region of southern Ukraine on Sunday, a statement from the presidency said. Zelenskyy also met with local military leaders, who reported that nearly 60% of the region was occupied by Russian troops.
— President Emmanuel Macron of France’s assertion that Ukraine and its allies should refrain from humiliating Moscow to improve the possibility of a negotiated settlement touched off a fiery response from Kyiv. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said that such statements “can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it.”
— Bridget A. Brink, the new American ambassador to Kyiv, joined Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, in mourning 261 children killed in the war. Calling their deaths “barbaric and unconscionable,” Brink added that the United States would “continue to support Ukraine so it can defend itself and its people.”
— U.S. warship Kearsarge arrived in Stockholm weeks after Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO. The visit was a reminder both of the protection that NATO membership would bring and of the Nordic states’ obligations not to remain neutral should a direct conflict arise with Russia.