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Russia targets Kyiv after Putin vows revenge for border strikes

By AFP

March 21, 2024 05:38 PM


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Russia fired more than 30 missiles at Kyiv early Thursday, the largest attack on the Ukrainian capital in weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed retribution for escalating strikes on Russia's border regions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the West to deliver air defence systems after the attacks, which wounded 17 in Kyiv and the surrounding region.

Ukraine's air force said it shot down 31 Russian missiles fired towards Kyiv.

"Such terror continues every day and night," Zelensky said in a Telegram post Thursday.

"It is possible to put an end to it through global unity... Russian terrorists do not have missiles capable of bypassing Patriot and other leading world systems," he said.

"This protection is required in Ukraine now. From Kyiv to Kharkiv, Sumy to Kherson, and Odesa to the Donetsk region. This is entirely possible if our partners demonstrate sufficient political will."

For weeks a vital $60 billion US military aid package for Ukraine has been blocked in Congress amid domestic political arguments.

- 'Shot down all missiles' -

Local officials said falling debris from the missiles injured 17 people -- 13 in Kyiv and four in the surrounding region.

The air force said Russia fired two Iskander ballistic missiles and 29 cruise missiles, launched from strategic bombers.

"Our defenders worked successfully and shot down all the missiles," said Oleksiy Kuleba, the deputy head of Zelensky's office.

Zelensky posted a video of windows blown out of a residential building and debris strewn across the street as firefighters used water hoses on the smoking building.

It was the first missile strike on the Ukrainian capital since early February, said Sergiy Popko, head of the Kyiv city military administration.

Russia's defence ministry said Thursday that it had targeted Ukrainian military sites with "long-range high-precision weapons, including Kinzhal hypersonic missiles."

"The objectives of the strike have been achieved. All targets were hit," it said in a daily briefing.

The attack comes after a sharp escalation in Ukrainian strikes on Russian border regions and oil refineries over the last two weeks.

- Putin vows revenge -

On Thursday, the Russian governor of the Belgorod region, on the border with Ukraine, said five people were wounded in the latest aerial bombardment.

"In the city of Belgorod, more than 30 apartments in six residential buildings were damaged as a result of an air attack by the Ukrainian armed forces," governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram.

He published photos showing damaged facades and smashed windows in multi-storey apartment blocks.

Speaking last week after a wave of Ukrainian drone, rocket and artillery attacks on Russia, Putin said: "These strikes by the enemy do not and will not go unpunished."

On Wednesday he vowed to restore "security" to the border areas and said that Russia had a "plan" to delivery victory against Kyiv.

Russia's FSB security service also said Thursday that it had arrested a Russian citizen in Belgorod who was preparing "terrorist acts against the Russian military", Russian state media reported.

It said the person was working with the "Russian Volunteer Corps", one of the militia groups that claimed to be behind a string of attempted armed cross-border incursions last week.

And Russia's defence ministry claimed to have captured the village of Tonenke in east Ukraine, around 10 kilometres (six miles) from the city of Avdiivka, which fell to Russian forces last month.

- US aid 'as soon as possible' -

Zelensky has repeatedly called for the West to deliver more air defence systems for Kyiv as Russian missile attacks continue to kill and injure dozens across the country.

At least five were killed in a missile strike on the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Wednesday, and 21 were killed in a strike on the Black Sea port city of Odesa last week.

In Kyiv for a meeting with Zelensky on Wednesday, the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said he could not predict when the much-needed aid from Washington would be approved.

"I'm not going to make predictions about exactly when this will get done, but we are working to get it done as soon as possible... but I cannot make a specific prediction today," he told reporters.

 

 


AFP


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