Russian missiles shake Kyiv

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Russian missiles struck the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Sunday, a day after a key eastern city fell to pro-Russian forces in a major setback for Ukraine and as world leaders gathered in Europe to discuss further sanctions against Moscow.

As Europe’s biggest land conflict since World War Two entered its fifth month the Western alliance supporting Kyiv was starting to show signs of strain. Britain on Saturday said it believed Ukraine could win, but feared it may be pressured into a “bad” peace deal.

Russian missiles hit Kyiv’s central Shevchenkivskiy district on Sunday morning, partially destroying a nine-storey apartment building and causing a fire, the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app.

“There are people under the rubble,” Klitschko said. He added that several people had already been hospitalised.

“They (the rescuers) have pulled out a seven-year-old girl. She is alive. Now they’re trying to rescue her mother.” At least five people were wounded, the head of Ukraine’s police force, Ihor Klymenko, said on national television.

Life had been returning to normal in Kyiv after fierce resistance held off Russian advances in the early phase of the war, although air raid sirens regularly sound across the city.

There had been no major strikes on Kyiv since June.

Russia denies targeting civilians, but Ukraine and the West accuse Russian forces of war crimes in a conflict that has killed thousands, sent millions fleeing Ukraine and destroyed cities.

The key eastern battlefield city of Sievierodonetsk fell to pro-Russian forces on Saturday after Ukrainian troops retreated, saying there was no longer anything to defend in the ruined city after months of fierce fighting.

The fall of Sievierodonetsk is a major defeat for Kyiv as it seeks to keep control of the eastern Donbas region, a key military objective for the Kremlin.

Moscow says the Donbas, Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, where it has backed uprisings since 2014, are independent countries. It demands Ukraine cede the entire territory of the two provinces to separatist administrations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, calling it a “special military operation” to ensure Russian security and denazify Ukraine. Kyiv and the West say the invasion was nothing more than a land grab by Putin.

The war has had a huge impact on the global economy and European security, driving up gas, oil and food prices, pushing the European Union to reduce reliance on Russian energy and prompting Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership.—Reuters

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