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A barrage of Russian missiles struck Kyiv early Sunday, the first major attack on Ukraine’s capital in more than a month.
The attack targeted railway infrastructure, according to Serhiy Leshchenko, an aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff. At least one person was hospitalised though no deaths were immediately reported, Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said.
The missile strikes hit the Darnytski and Dniprovski districts in the city and emergency services had arrived to the scene, Klitschko reported on the Telegram messaging app. Air raid sirens had gone off around the time of the blasts.
According to Ukraine’s air force, the long-range missiles were launched by Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers in the Caspian Sea region, that at its closest is around 850 miles from the centre of Kyiv.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said it had fired rockets at Kyiv and destroyed T-72 tanks and armoured vehicles that had been supplied to Ukraine by eastern European countries and were held in a railway carriage repair building.
Ukrainian air defences destroyed one cruise missile at around 6 a.m. local time after identifying incoming missiles, Ukraine’s air force said.
The attacks shattered a sense of calm in Kyiv, which hadn’t seen similar strikes since the April 28 visit of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
A Radio Liberty producer was killed in the Russian missile strike that hit the building she lived in, in the attack at the end of April.
In a warning on Sunday after the strikes on Kyiv, Putin said Moscow will strike new targets if the West supplies long-range missiles to Ukraine and says new arms deliveries to Kyiv are aimed at ‘prolonging the conflict’.
If Kyiv is supplied with long-range missiles, ‘we will draw the appropriate conclusions and use our arms…. to strike targets we haven’t hit before,’ Putin is quoted by Russian news agencies as saying, without specifying which targets he means.
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian counterattack in the contested city of Severodonetsk has seen Zelensky’s forces regain control of around half of the city, its governor said.
Russian forces had been on the brink of capturing the key eastern city in recent days, but Serhiy Gaidai said Ukrainian military efforts have turned the tide for now.
The city is now split in half, he said, after Vladimir Putin’s soldiers had previously managed to win control of around 70 percent of the city that is of vital tactical importance to the Russian leader’s on-going push to win Ukraine’s Donbas region.
A barrage of Russian missiles struck Kyiv early Sunday, the first major strikes to hit Ukraine’s capital in more than a month. Pictured: Smoke rises after missile strikes, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 5, 2022
Crowds gather to view destroyed Russian tanks and armoured vehicles that have been put on display in Saint Michael’s Square for public viewing on June 4, 2022 in Kyiv
Residents chat in front of a destroyed building in Borodianka, as Russia’s attacks on Ukraine continue, Kyiv Region, Ukraine June 4, 2022
Pictured: A view from behind the Volodymyr The Great Monument in Kyiv that overlooks the Dnipro river. Smoke can be seen rising above the buildings in the distance on Sunday
An acrid smell of smoke filled the air in the Darnystki district of eastern Kviv, with pictures showing a billowing pillar of smoke rising in the sky.
Soldiers and police blocked off a main road to the site. Smoke billowed from the charred and blackened wreckage of a warehouse-type structure.
‘Several explosions in Darnytsky and Dniprovsky districts of the city. Services are extinguishing,’ Klitschko said on Telegram shortly after air raid warnings sounded in Kyiv and several other cities.
‘There are currently no dead from missile strikes on infrastructure. One wounded was hospitalised. The services are still working in the affected areas.’
A resident of an apartment overlooking the area with the charred warehouse said she’d been awakened by loud explosions in the early morning. She said the site had been targeted before but without causing such damage.
Police near the site told an Associated Press reporter that military authorities had banned the taking of images. Soldiers also blocked off a road in a nearby area leading toward a large railway yard.
‘According to preliminary data, the (Russians) launched missiles from Tu-95 aircraft from the Caspian Sea,’ the Ukrainian air forces said in a statement.
Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called on the West to impose more sanctions on Russia to punish it for the strikes and to supply more weapons to Ukraine.
‘The Kremlin resorts to new insidious attacks. Today’s missile strikes at Kyiv have only one goal – kill as many as possible,’ he wrote.
Russia claimed that it had destroyed tanks supplied to Ukraine by eastern European countries in the strikes on Kyiv.
‘High-precision, long-range missiles fired by the Russian Aerospace Forces on the outskirts of Kyiv destroyed T-72 tanks supplied by eastern European countries and other armoured vehicles that were in hangars,’ Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
The mayor of the historic town of Brovary some 12 miles from Kyiv’s centre, urged people to remain inside their houses as there had been reports of the smell of soot coming from the smoke.
Despite continuing Russian offensives in Ukraine and the widespread destruction, life in Kyiv has been relatively attack-free in recent weeks, after Moscow turned the focus of its invasion to the east and south.
Air raid sirens regularly disrupt life in Kyiv, but there have been no major strikes on the city in several weeks.
The Darnytskyi district on the left bank of the Dnipro River stretches from the outskirts of Kyiv to the river’s shores while the Dniprovskyi area in the city’s north lies along the river.
This photograph taken on June 5, 2022 shows smoke after several explosions hit the Ukrainian capital Kyiv early morning
The strikes on Kyiv hit unspecified ‘infrastructure’ targets, the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said. No one was reported killed, with one person hospitalized with injuries
The attacks shattered a sense of calm in Kyiv, which hadn’t seen similar strikes since the April 28 visit of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
Soldiers and police blocked off a main road to the site. Smoke (pictured) billowed from the charred and blackened wreckage of a warehouse-type structure
Elsewhere, Russian forces continued their push to take ground in eastern Ukraine, with missile and airstrikes carried out on cities and villages of the Luhansk region, with the war now past the 100-day mark.
The battle for Ukraine’s eastern city of Severodonetsk was being waged street by street, President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Luhansk has been partly controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014. Severodonetsk is the administrative capital of the Ukrainian part.
‘The Russians were in control of about 70 percent of the city, but have been forced back over the past two days,’ Luhansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday wrote on Telegram. ‘The city is divided in two. They are afraid to move freely around the city.’
Gaiday said that Ukrainian forces had captured eight Russian prisoners.
He suggested that Russian general Aleksandr Dvornikov ‘has set himself a target of taking full control of Severodonetsk by June 10, or controlling the Lysychansk-Bakhmut road’ which would open the way to Kramatorsk, the capital of the Donetsk region.
‘All of the forces, all of the reserves are concentrating on these two tasks,’ Gaiday said.
The events in Severodonetsk echo of the bitter siege of Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks, about 800 people – including children – are hiding in Soviet-era bomb shelters beneath the city’s Azot chemical factory.
At least 11 civilians were reported killed in the Luhansk region where Severodonetsk is located, the nearby Donetsk region and in the southern city of Mykolaiv.
‘The situation in Severodonetsk, where street fighting continues, remains extremely difficult,’ Zelensky said in his daily address Saturday evening.
Cities in the eastern Donbas area at the heart of the Russian offensive were under ‘constant air strikes, artillery and missile fire’ but Ukrainian forces were holding their ground, he said.
Severodonetsk is the largest city still in Ukrainian hands in the Luhansk region of the Donbas, where Russian forces have been gradually advancing in recent weeks after retreating or being repelled from other areas, including around the capital Kyiv.
Russia’s army claimed some Ukrainian military units were withdrawing from Severodonetsk but Mayor Oleksandr Striuk said Ukrainian forces were fighting to retake the city.
‘Our soldiers have managed to redeploy, build a line of defence,’ he said in an interview broadcast on Telegram Saturday. ‘We are currently doing everything necessary to re-establish total control’ of the city.
The U.K. military said in its daily intelligence update that Ukrainian counterattacks in Sieverodonetsk were ‘likely blunting the operational momentum Russian forces previously gained through concentrating combat units and firepower.’
The statement also said that Russia’s military was partly relying on reserve forces of the Luhansk region.
‘These troops are poorly equipped and trained, and lack heavy equipment in comparison to regular Russian units,’ the intelligence update said.
It added that ‘this approach likely indicates a desire to limit casualties suffered by regular Russian forces.’
A Ukrainian main battle tank drives on a street during nearby mortar shelling in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine, on May 18, on the 84th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Debris hangs from a residential building heavily damaged in a Russian bombing in Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 28, 2022
Earlier, Luhansk governor Gaiday said the Russians had captured most of Severodonetsk, but that Ukraine’s forces were pushing them back.
‘The Russian army, as we understand, is throwing all its power, all its reserves in this direction,’ said Gaiday. ‘Russians are blowing up the bridges, so that we cannot supply reinforcements to our boys, who are in Severodonetsk,’ he added.
Gaiday said that ‘airstrikes by Ka-52 helicopters were carried out in the areas of Girske and Myrna Dolyna, by Su-25 aircraft – on Ustynivka,’ while Lysychansk was hit by a missile from the Tochka-U complex.
For its part, Moscow claims to have destroyed two Ukrainian command centres and six ammunition depots in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
‘Ukrainian forces are successfully slowing down Russian operations to encircle Ukrainian positions in Luhansk Oblast as well as Russian frontal assaults in Severodonetsk through prudent and effective local counterattacks in Severodonetsk’, the US-based Institute for the Study of War said late Saturday.
A total of 13 houses were damaged in Girske, and five in Lysychansk.
Another airstrike was reported in the eastern city of Kramatorsk by its mayor Oleksandr Goncharenko. No one was killed in the attack, he said, but two of the city’s enterprises sustained ‘significant damage.’
On Sunday morning, Ukraine’s General Staff accused Russian forces of using phosphorus munitions in the Kharkiv region and said that Moscow continues to carry out missile and airstrikes on military and civilian infrastructure, including in Kyiv.
The General Staff said in its morning update that the Russian troops used phosphorus munitions in the area of the Cherkaski Tyshky village in the Kharkiv region. The claim couldn’t be independently verified.
The update also confirmed strikes on Kyiv, which occurred in the early hours of Sunday. It wasn’t immediately clear from the statement which infrastructure facilities in Kyiv were hit.
The General Staff also said that the Russian forces continue assault operations in Sievierodonetsk. The Russians currently control the eastern part of the city, the update said, and are focusing on encircling Ukrainian forces in the area and ‘blocking off main logistical routes.’
In the Black Sea, the General Staff said, five naval-based Kalibr cruise missiles stood ready to be used – a threat that carries significant weight after Ukrainian missiles destroyed Russia’s Black Sea flagship – the Moskva – earlier in the war.
Cultural monuments are protected from possible shelling by metal and fireproof layers in Lviv, Ukraine on June 4, 2022
Wing from a downed Russian plane near a hidden fountain in Lviv, Ukraine on June 4, 2022
Pictured: Emergency services work to put out a fire amid reports that Russians launched missiles into the Nika-Tera port in Mykolaiv
The U.K. military said in its daily intelligence update that Ukrainian counterattacks in Sieverodonetsk were ‘likely blunting the operational momentum Russian forces previously gained through concentrating combat units and firepower’
Tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions forced to flee and towns turned into rubble since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an all-out assault on his pro-Western neighbour on February 24 – now more than 100 days ago.
Western powers have imposed increasingly stringent sanctions on Russia and supplied arms to Ukraine, but divisions have emerged on how to react.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday Putin had committed a ‘fundamental error’ but that Russia should not be ‘humiliated’ so that a diplomatic solution could be found.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reacted Saturday by saying such calls ‘only humiliate France’ and any country taking a similar position.
‘It is Russia that humiliates itself. We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place,’ he said.
Despite diplomatic efforts, the conflict has raged in the south and east of the country.
Ukraine reported two victims from a Russian missile strike on Odessa in the southwest, without specifying if they were dead or wounded.
Russia’s defence ministry said it had struck a ‘deployment point for foreign mercenaries’ in the village of Dachne in the Odessa region.
It also claimed a missile strike in the northeastern Sumy region on an artillery training centre with ‘foreign instructors’.
Ukraine’s state-run nuclear power operator Energoatom said on Sunday that a Russian cruise missile few ‘critically low’ over a major nuclear power plant.
‘It’s probable that was the missile that was fired in the direction of Kyiv,’ the operator of the Pivdennoukrainska plant, also called the South Ukraine Nuclear Plant, said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.
Reuters news agency said it could not immediately verify the claim.
Pivdennoukrainska is Ukraine’s second largest nuclear plant located near in the Mykolaiv region, about 220 miles south of Kyiv.
Ukrainia’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (2ndR) visiting a wounded Ukrainian serviceman at the Shalimov National Institute of Surgery and Transplantology in Kyiv, on the 100th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, June 3
This combination of images from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, in his video addresses from Feb. 24, 2022, to June 3, 2022
In addition to the mounting human toll, the conflict has caused widespread damage to Ukraine’s cultural heritage.
On Saturday, Zelensky said a wooden church on one of Ukraine’s most sacred Orthodox sites has been destroyed by Russian bombing.
‘Russian artillery again hit’ the All Saints Skete of the Holy Dormition Sviatogirsk Lavra, Zelensky says on Telegram, with a video showing the church in eastern Ukraine ablaze.
The Ukrainian leader said 300 civilians including 60 children had sought shelter from bombs at the church amid fierce fighting in the Donbas region.
Moscow continues to prove ‘its inability to be part of the civilised world,’ Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said in a statement.
Russia’s defence ministry blamed ‘Ukrainian nationalists’.
Russian troops now occupy a fifth of Ukraine’s territory, according to Kyiv, and Moscow has imposed a blockade on its Black Sea ports, sparking fears of a global food crisis. Ukraine and Russia are among the top wheat exporters in the world.
The United Nations said it was leading intense negotiations with Russia to allow Ukraine’s grain harvest to leave the country.
Putin said Friday there was ‘no problem’ to export grain from Ukraine, via Kyiv- or Moscow-controlled ports or even through Central Europe.
The UN has warned that African countries, which normally import over half of their wheat consumption from Ukraine and Russia, face an ‘unprecedented’ crisis.
Food prices in Africa have already exceeded those in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings and the 2008 food riots.
The head of the African Union, Senegalese President Macky Sall, said Saturday he intended to visit Ukraine after meeting with Putin the day before to discuss the wheat shortage.
Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov repeated the government’s appeal for the swift delivery of heavy artillery in a telecast address to the Globsec-2022 forum on international security Saturday.
If Kyiv gets the equipment they had asked for, he said, ‘I cannot forecast definitely what month we will kick them out, but I hope – and it’s absolutely a realistic plan – to do it this year.’
Away from the battlefield, Ukraine will be fighting for victory over Wales in Sunday’s play-off final as they aim to reach their first football World Cup since 1958.
‘We all understand that the game with Wales will no longer be about physical condition or tactics, it will be a game of survival,’ said Ukraine and Manchester City player Oleksandr Zinchenko. ‘Everyone will fight to the end and give their all, because we will play for our country.’
TIMELINE: 100 days of war in Ukraine
Russia invaded Ukraine in the early hours of February 24, setting off the worst conflict in Europe in decades.
As Russia extends its grip over the east, we look back on 100 days of fighting that has killed tens of thousands of civilians and reduced entire cities to rubble.
February 24: Russia invades – Russian President Vladimir Putin announces a ‘special military operation’ to ‘demilitarise’ and ‘de-Nazify’ the former Soviet state and protect Russian speakers there.
A full-scale invasion starts with air and missile strikes on several cities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pledges to stay in Kyiv to lead the resistance.
February 26: Massive sanctions – West adopts unprecedented sanctions against Russia and offers Ukraine military aid.
Air spaces are closed to Russian aircraft and Russia is kicked out of sporting and cultural events.
February 27: Nuclear threat – Putin puts Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert, in what is seen as a warning to the West not to intervene in Ukraine.
February 28: First talks – During the first peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow, Russia demands recognition of its sovereignty over Crimea, the ‘demilitarisation’ and ‘de-Nazification’ of Ukraine and a guarantee Ukraine will never join NATO. Ukraine demands a complete Russian withdrawal.
March 3: Kherson falls – Russian troops attack Ukraine’s south coast to try to link up territory held by pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine with the Russian-annexed Crimea peninsula.
On March 3, Kherson in the south becomes the first city to fall. Russian forces relentlessly shell the port of Mariupol.
March 4: Media crackdown – Russia passes a law punishing what it calls ‘fake news’ about its offensive – such as referring to its ‘special military operation’ as an invasion – with up to 15 years in prison.
March 16: Mariupol theatre razed – Russian air strikes raze a Mariupol theatre killing an estimated 300 people sheltering inside. Moscow blames the attack on Ukraine’s nationalist Azov battalion.
March 16: Zelensky lobbies Congress – Zelensky tells the US Congress to ‘remember Pearl Harbor’ and lobbies Western parliaments for more help.
April 2-3: Horror in Bucha – After a month of fighting, Russia withdraws from northern Ukraine, announcing it will focus its efforts on conquering the eastern Donbas region.
On April 2 and 3, Ukrainians find dozens of corpses of civilians scattered on the street or buried in shallow graves in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, which Russian forces had occupied.
Moscow dismisses accusations of Russian war crimes, saying the images of the bodies are fakes.
April 8: Train station carnage – A rocket attack on a train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk kills at least 57 civilians being evacuated from Donbas.
April 12: Biden speaks of ‘genocide’ – Biden accuses Russia of ‘genocide’, saying Putin appears intent on ‘trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian’.
April 14: Flagship sinks – Ukrainian missiles hit and sink Russia’s missile cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea, a major setback for Moscow.
May 11: $40 billion in US aid – US lawmakers back a huge $40-billion package of military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
May 16: Kharkiv retreat – Ukraine says its troops have driven Russian forces back from the outskirts of the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, to the Russian border.
May 18: Sweden, Finland apply to NATO – Finland and Sweden apply to join NATO, reversing decades of military non-alignment because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
May 23: First war crimes conviction – A Ukrainian court finds a 21-year-old Russian soldier guilty of war crimes and hands down a life sentence for shooting dead a 62-year-old civilian in northeastern Ukraine in the opening days of the war. He has appealed.
May 21: Battle for Mariupol ends – Russia declares it is in full control of Mariupol after Ukraine ordered troops holding out for weeks in the Azovstal steelworks to lay down their arms to save their lives.
Nearly 2,500 soldiers surrender and are taken prisoner by Russia.
May 30: EU bans most Russian oil – EU leaders overcome resistance from Hungary to agree a partial ban on most Russian oil imports as part of a sixth wave of sanctions.
The deal bans oil imports delivered by tanker but allows landlocked countries such as Hungary to continue receiving Russian oil by pipeline.
May 31: Russia seizes part of eastern city – Russian troops seize part of the key eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, its governor says. Taking the city would give Russia de-facto control over Lugansk, one of two regions that make up the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland.
Reporting by AFP