Kyiv (Ukraine) (AFP) – Russia said on Tuesday it had launched mass strikes on Ukraine, hours before a meeting of G7 leaders whom Kyiv is pressing to supply more missiles. Air defenses against what it called “desperate” Moscow attacks.
Officials in the western Ukraine’s Lviv region said at least three Russian missiles targeted energy infrastructure, forcing Kyiv to demand that people cut off electricity and turn off appliances at night.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the attacks, saying it had carried out extensive strikes using long-range and high-precision weapons and that “all identified targets were hit”.
In Lviv, the largest city in the region of the same name, the mayor said that a third of homes were without electricity.
Ukraine has stepped up its calls for advanced air defense systems to help stave off a future Russian missile barrage, with Prime Minister Dennis Shmygal calling for “more modern weapons to protect the sky and civilians.”
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that Russia had fired 83 missiles at Ukraine, and its air defenses had brought down 52 of them
The G7 meeting comes a day after Russian missiles rocked the Ukrainian capital for the first time in months. President Volodymyr Zelensky was defiant, warning his country “it cannot be intimidated.”
On Monday, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that Russia had fired 83 missiles at Ukraine, 52 of which were shot down by its air defenses, including 43 cruise missiles.
On Tuesday, Ukraine’s emergency services said the total death toll had risen to 19, with more than 100 wounded.
The Kremlin said it expected the “confrontation” with the West to continue as G7 leaders prepare to meet.
The United Nations said on Tuesday that the wave of attacks may have violated the laws of war and would amount to war crimes if civilians were deliberately targeted.
Monday’s mass barrage of raids came in apparent retaliation for an explosion on Saturday that destroyed a major bridge linking Russia to Crimea, a peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine for the bridge bombing and warned of “severe” responses to any further attacks.
– ‘Just peace’ –
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the strikes showed Moscow was “desperate” after a series of embarrassing military setbacks, a sentiment echoed by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, who said it was a “sign of weakness”.
Turkey called on Tuesday for a viable ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine “as soon as possible,” and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet Putin in Kazakhstan this week.
The Group of Seven is set to hold crisis talks on Tuesday over Russia’s erroneous bombing across Ukraine
In a televised address, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also called for a “just peace” based on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Residents across Ukraine expressed shock and anger after Monday’s attack.
In Dnipro, Ukrainian soldier Maxim was on leave from the front lines for the first time in six months to celebrate his wife’s birthday when Russian missiles hit the central Ukrainian city, damaging their home.
“We are fighting precisely at the front to protect these places” far from enemy lines, he said. “But they still managed to beat them up.”
Zelensky and G7 leaders were scheduled to meet via video link at 1200 GMT on Tuesday to discuss the latest Russian attacks.
– ‘Deep change’ –
Prime Minister Liz Truss’s office said she would use the rally “to urge fellow leaders to continue the course”.
Nobody wants peace more than Ukraine. And for our part, we must not compromise one iota in our determination to help them win it.”
German government spokesman Stephen Hebestreet told reporters on Monday that Chancellor Olaf Schulz spoke with Zelensky and assured him of “the solidarity of Germany and the other G7 countries.”
French President Emmanuel Macron summoned the defense and foreign ministers over the strikes, which he said indicated a “profound change in the nature of this war”.
Monday’s lightning Russian bombardment hit many civilian areas in Ukraine
US President Joe Biden condemned Monday’s attacks in stark terms, saying they showed the “absolute brutality” of Putin’s “illegal war”.
In a statement, the White House said Biden had spoken to Zelensky and pledged to provide Ukraine with “advanced air defense systems.”
Meanwhile, Putin is scheduled to meet the head of the United Nations Nuclear Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday to discuss the Russian-controlled nuclear reactor in Ukraine’s Zaporizhia region.
Fighting around the facility for months has raised fears of a nuclear accident.