First major air strike in Ukraine’s capital city
Russia launched the largest missile barrage on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in weeks early Sunday, hours before a Group of Seven meeting convened in Germany to discuss new economic measures to stop Moscow’s invasion.
Several missiles flew toward Kyiv around dawn, and Ukrainian air defenses shot down at least one on the outskirts of the capital, Ukrainian government officials said. One missile hit an eight-story residential building, where city officials said residents were pulled from the rubble. One person died and four others were injured, including a 7-year-old girl and her 35-year-old mother, who is a Russian citizen, Ihor Klymenko, the head of Ukrainian national police, said on his Facebook page.
Another missile landed on the playground of a kindergarten, according to Ukrainian media. The kindergarten was empty at the time.
“It’s more of their barbarism,” President Biden said at the G-7 summit on Sunday, when asked about Russia’s latest attack in Kyiv.
The barrage comes as Moscow has publicly shrugged at Western economic sanctions and warned that the West, too, could face repercussions if it continues to send military hardware to help Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion. Earlier this weekend, Russia fired dozens of missiles at military depots throughout Ukraine in an apparent attempt to disrupt Kyiv’s supply lines. Moscow has suggested that it will engage in tit-for-tat escalations in personnel and weaponry as long as the U.S. supports Ukraine.
Officials of the G-7 are expected to discuss economic measures to stop Moscow’s invasion at their summit in the Bavarian Alps during the next three days. The U.S. announced targeting Russian gold production revenues will be one lever. The forthcoming ban on the import of Russian gold hits “a major export that rakes in tens of billions of dollars for Russia,” Mr. Biden said in a tweet.
Some government officials worry, however, that Russia is such a big supplier of raw materials to the world economy that sanctions against it could backfire by creating supply bottlenecks. Russia’s economy is expected to sustain long-term damage from sanctions, but it still sells energy to China, India and other countries not participating in the sanctions effort. Higher commodity prices have helped offset some of the impact of sanctions.
A German government official said a cap on gold purchases to Russia could cause an increase in prices, which could at least temporarily lead to more revenue for Russia. G-7 negotiators were working to tackle this issue, the official said.
After repelling Russian advances toward its capital early in the war, Ukrainian forces have been suffering setbacks in the east, where Russian forces have been slowly advancing with the help of devastating artillery barrages. Last week, Ukraine ordered its forces to abandon their remaining foothold in the city of Severodonetsk, ending a battle that lasted nearly two months. That gave Russia a small but symbolically important victory in its war for control of eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.
Advanced U.S. artillery systems delivered in recent days are expected to be deployed against advancing Russian forces in Ukraine’s eastern provinces, but military experts say it could take weeks if not months to properly integrate them into Ukraine’s armed forces.
On Sunday, Russia announced that its top military official, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, visited Russian-occupied Ukraine for the first time. The Defense Ministry released a short video clip of him meeting with troops and handing out medals.
His visit follows a report Saturday of an artillery strike that destroyed a Russian military headquarters in Russian-controlled territory of Ukraine. Video footage of the base after the strike showed smoldering military vehicles and buildings.
The strikes on Kyiv early Sunday appear to have been launched from Russian aircraft over the Caspian Sea, outside Ukraine, according to a Ukrainian air force official cited by Ukrainian media. Another staging ground in the past week has been neighboring Belarus, which has been touting a closer relationship with the Kremlin since the invasion began.
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko met in St. Petersburg. President Putin said that within a few months, Russia would deliver Iskander missile systems to Belarus that would be able to carry both conventional and nuclear warheads, according to comments released by the Kremlin. President Lukashenko previously said that his country purchased missile systems from Russia and that Belarus was also developing its own similar systems with the help of Russia.