Russia bombards Ukraine before G7 meeting, Kyiv calls for air defenses

1. Ukraine
Anti-tank obstacles are placed on a street in the frontline town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region on October 11, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

KYIV — Russia said on Tuesday it launched mass strikes on Ukraine hours ahead of a meeting of G7 leaders who Kyiv is lobbying to supply enhanced air defenses against what it called “desperate” attacks by Moscow.اضافة اعلان

Officials in Ukraine’s western region of Lviv said at least three Russian missiles targeted energy infrastructure forcing Kyiv to ask people to cut their electricity usage and switch off appliances at night.

Russia’s defense ministry confirmed the attacks saying it had carried out massive strikes using long-range and high-precision weapons and that “all assigned targets were hit”.

In Lviv, the largest city in the region of the same name, the mayor said that one-third of homes were without power.

Ukraine has ratcheted up its calls for advanced air defense systems to help stave off future Russian barrages, with Prime Minister Denys Shmygal asking for “more modern weapons to protect the sky and civilians”.

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 “cannot be intimidated”.

The Ukrainian defense ministry said Monday that Russia had fired 83 missiles at Ukraine, of which its air defenses shot down 52, among which were 43 cruise missiles.

Ukraine’s emergency services said on Tuesday that the overall toll had risen to 19 dead and more than 100 people wounded.

The Kremlin said it expected “confrontation” with the West to continue as the G7 leaders prepared to meet.

The UN said on Tuesday 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 came in apparent retaliation for an explosion on Saturday that damaged a key bridge linking Russia to Crimea, a peninsula Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine for the bridge blast 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 spate of embarrassing military setbacks, a sentiment echoed by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg who said they were “a sign of weakness”.

Turkey on Tuesday called for a viable ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine “as soon as possible”, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expected to meet Putin in Kazakhstan this week.

Speaking in a televised interview, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also called for a “just peace” based on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

‘A profound change’

The office of UK Prime Minister Liz Truss said she would use the gathering “to urge fellow leaders to stay the course”.

“Nobody wants peace more than Ukraine. And for our part, we must not waver one iota in our resolve to help them win it.”

German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit told reporters on Monday that Chancellor Olaf Scholz had spoken with Zelensky and assured him “of the solidarity of Germany and the other G7 states”.

French President Emmanuel Macron convened his defense and foreign affairs ministers over the strikes, which he said signaled “a profound change in the nature of this war”.

US President Joe Biden condemned Monday’s attacks in stark terms, saying they demonstrated “the utter brutality” of Putin’s “illegal war”.

In a statement, the White House said Biden had spoken to Zelensky and had pledged to furnish Ukraine with “advanced air defense systems”.

Putin meanwhile was due to meet the head of the UN’s nuclear energy watchdog, Rafael Grossi, in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday to discuss the Russian-controlled nuclear plant in the Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia.

Fighting around the facility for months has raised fears of a nuclear accident.

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