Russia has launched fresh attacks on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv for the first time in weeks, as 14 missiles targeted residential buildings.
Emergency services were seen battling flames and rescuing civilians from the blasted-out windows of burning apartments after large bangs shook the city at around 6.30 am this morning.
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said two people were injured, and a seven-year-old girl was pulled alive from the rubble. He said: ‘We are doing everything we can to stop the fire and take people out of the destroyed buildings.
‘We hope nobody has died, but the final information we will have in a couple of hours.’ Oleksiy Goncharenko, a Ukrainian MP, said, according to data, 14 missiles were launched at the capital.
Russia’s troops are predominantly focused on the east of the country as they look to gain increased ground in the Luhansk area of Ukraine following the withdrawal of the Ukrainian forces from the charred ruins of Sievierodonetsk.
Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that Russian and Moscow-backed separatist forces now control Sievierodonetsk and the villages surrounding it.
He said the attempt by Ukrainian forces to turn the Azot plant into a ‘stubborn centre of resistance’ had been thwarted.
Moscow-backed separatists are now in control of the chemical plant, which was the last Ukrainian holdout in the city.
But Russia has also launched other missile strikes across other parts of Ukraine. Ukraine’s air command said Russia fired long-range Tu-22 bombers deployed from Belarus for the first time.
During a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Belarussian president, Alexander Lukashenko’s discussions included Russia supplying Belarus with the Iskander-M missile system.
Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said the Russian bombers’ use of Belarusian airspace for the first time for Saturday’s attack was ‘directly connected to attempts by the Kremlin to drag Belarus into the war’.
Belarus hosted Russian military units and was used as a staging ground before Russia invaded Ukraine, but its own troops have not crossed the border.