KYIV, June 26 - Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian capital early Sunday, striking at least two residential buildings and killing one person, The Associated Press reported Sunday citing Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.
The attack came as Western leaders are meeting in Europe prepared to reaffirm their support for Ukraine and condemnation of Russia.
President Joe Biden condemned Russia’s actions as “more of their barbarism,” and stressed the need for allies to remain firm even as the economic reverberations from the war take an economic toll around the globe.
We have to stay together, because Putin has been counting on, from the beginning, that somehow NATO and the G-7 would splinter, but we haven’t and we’re not going to,” Biden said during a pre-summit meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who holds the G-7′s rotating presidency and is hosting the gathering.
Rescue services battled flames and rescued civilians. The strikes also damaged a nearby kindergarten, where a crater pocked the courtyard. Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said the missiles were Kh-101 cruise missiles fired from planes over the Caspian Sea, more than 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) away.
After conflicting early casualty reports, Klitschko said one person was killed and six injured, including a 7-year-old girl and her mother, whose condition he described as moderately severe.
Klitschko told journalists that he believed the airstrikes were “maybe a symbolic attack” ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid that starts Tuesday.
The early morning Russian airstrikes were the first to successfully target the capital since June 5. Two more explosions were later heard in Kyiv, but their cause was not immediately clear.
A former commander of U.S. forces in Europe said the strikes on Kyiv were intended to humiliate Western leaders as they gathered for the G-7 and NATO summits.
Russia is saying, ‘We can do this all day long. You guys are powerless to stop us,’” retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the former commanding general of U.S. Army forces in Europe, said. “The Russians are humiliating the leaders of the West.”
In a phone interview, Hodges said Russia doesn’t have bottomless stocks of precision missiles and that “if they are using them, it’s going to be for a special purpose.”
He said it was hard to say with certainty whether apartments buildings were deliberately targeted or whether missiles strayed. (ap/ez)