UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly started debating Monday whether to demand that Russia reverse course on annexing four regions of Ukraine. The discussion came as Moscow’s most extensive missile strikes in months alarmed much of the international community anew.
The assembly’s special session was planned before Monday’s barrage. But countries took the occasion to speak out on the morning rush-hour attacks that hit at least 14 Ukrainian regions, including the capital of Kyiv, and killed at least 14 people. Russia said it targeted military and energy facilities. But some of the missiles smashed into civilian areas.
Ukrainian Ambassador Sergey Kyslytsya told the assembly that some of his own close relatives were imperiled and unable to take cover in a bomb shelter.
Russia has said it was retaliating for what it called a Ukrainian “terrorist” attack Saturday on an important bridge, and Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the assembly that Moscow had warned that there wouldn’t be impunity for such an attack.
The assembly is debating a response to Russia’s purported absorption last month of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. The move followed Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” that the Ukrainian government and the West have dismissed as illegitimate.
A vote is expected later in the week on a proposed assembly resolution that would condemn the “referendums” and claimed annexations as illegal. It would demand that Moscow “immediately and unconditionally” scrap the annexations.
UN assembly to meet on Ukraine hours after Russian strikes
Analysts: Russian missiles seek to levy pain, could backfire Top EU diplomat laments slow start for Ukraine training plan Kyrgyzstan cancels Russian-led military drill on its land
Follow all AP stories on the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden spoke Monday with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and expressed his condemnation of Russia’s missile strikes across Ukraine, including in Kyiv.
In a telephone call, the U.S. President conveyed his condolences to the loved ones of those killed and injured in the attacks. according to a White House statement. Biden pledged to continue providing Ukraine with the support it needs to defend itself, including advanced air defense systems.
He also underscored his engagement with allies and partners to continue imposing costs on Russia, holding Russia accountable for its war crimes and atrocities.
TALLINN, Estonia — Belarus’ Defense Minister Victor Khrenin has ruled out active participation in the war in Ukraine.
“We don’t want to fight Lithuanians, or Poles, or Ukrainians,” Khrenin said in a video statement Monday.
The remarks followed an announcement by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko that Belarus will host several thousand Russian troops. Lukashenko also warned Kyiv against attacking Belarus, despite the lack of any indication of an assault being planned.
Alexander Alesin, an independent Belarusian military analyst, says Belarus could host some 10,000-15,000 Russian troops, which together with its own military could form a joint force of up to 60,000. But, he argued, Minsk is not willing to deploy troops to Ukraine.
The Kremlin, according to some reports, wants its neighbor to host Russian nuclear weapons. Alesin said: “Iskander-M (missiles) have already been deployed to Belarus. They could be equipped with nuclear warheads with a capacity of 50 kilotons and a range of 500 kilometers.”
The analyst said some Belarusian Su-24M bombers had been modified at Russian factories to carry nuclear bombs. But he added: “Minsk specifically stipulates that deployment of Russian nuclear weapons to Belarus would only be possible if (U.S.) nuclear weapons are deployed to neighboring Poland.”
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says civilian deaths caused by missile attacks across Ukraine illustrate the “utter brutality” of the war led Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The United States strongly condemns Russia’s missile strikes today across Ukraine, including in Kyiv,” a White House statement said. “These attacks killed and injured civilians and destroyed targets with no military purpose. They once again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr. Putin’s illegal war on the Ukrainian people.”
Biden renewed a call on Russia to withdraw all of its forces from Ukraine.
“These attacks only further reinforce our commitment to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he said. “Alongside our allies and partners, we will continue to impose costs on Russia for its aggression, hold Putin and Russia accountable for its atrocities and war crimes, and provide the support necessary for Ukrainian forces to defend their country and their freedom.”
PRAGUE — Hundreds of protesters have gathered in the Czech capital to condemn the Russian strikes against multiple cities across Ukraine and demand additional international support for Ukraine’s air defenses.
The demonstrators at central Wenceslas Square held up crosses with the names of places hit by the Russian missiles as well as umbrellas symbolizing air defenses.
Czech political leaders condemned the strikes that hit both civilian and infrastructure targets.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala said they were “not meant to damage military targets. It’s about murdering the civilian population and spreading fear.”
More protests are planned Tuesday and Saturday.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promised to continue “unwavering” support for Ukraine after Monday’s missile strikes.
“I just spoke with (Ukrainian Foreign Minister) Dmytro Kuleba to reiterate U.S. support for Ukraine following the Kremlin’s horrific strikes this morning,” Blinken wrote in a tweet. “We will continue to provide unwavering economic, humanitarian, and security assistance so Ukraine can defend itself and take care of its people.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also spoke to Kuleba Monday. In a tweet, Stoltenberg said the “condemned Russia’s horrific and indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.”
He affirmed that “NATO will continue supporting the brave Ukrainian people to fight back against the Kremlin’s aggression for as long as it takes.”
KYIV, Ukraine — A second round of air raid sirens rang across Kyiv on Monday afternoon, sending many across the city back underground into shelters following missile strikes earlier in the day.
Missile strikes across Ukraine on Monday morning marked the biggest and most widespread Russian attacks in months.
Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said a Russian missile had hit a playground in downtown Kyiv and another struck a central building of a local university. He said there was no “practical military sense” in the strikes, maintaining that Russia’s goal was to cause a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
Explosions have been reported in Kryvyi Rih, a city in Ukraine’s central Dnipropetrovsk region, that came under attack for a second time Monday. City governor Oleksandr Vilkul said the city was attacked by Iranian-built Shahed-136 drones.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Liz Truss says Russia’s missile strikes across Ukraine are a sign of Ukrainian success and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “increasing desperation.”
Truss spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Monday. “The U.K. stands wholeheartedly behind President Zelenskyy and Ukraine. Putin’s destructive rhetoric and behavior will not diminish our resolve,” the prime minister’s office said.
Britain said Group of Seven leaders would “re-emphasize the unity of opposition to Putin’s despicable campaign” when they hold a virtual meeting with Zelenskyy on Tuesday. ___
GENEVA — The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has about 700 staffers in Ukraine, said it had “momentarily paused movements” in the country.
“Given the security situation in Ukraine earlier today, ICRC teams momentarily paused movements and sheltered and continued to work in place,” spokesman Jason Straziuso said. “(The) ICRC’s full schedule of humanitarian assistance will resume immediately as the security situation allows. We are monitoring humanitarian needs to provide assistance as necessary.”
DNIPRO, Ukraine — Several strikes on the central city of Dnipro on Monday killed four people and injured 19, local officials said. They also partially destroyed a telecommunications building and left a city bus charred and mangled beside a large smoldering crater in the street.
Bystanders said a rocket hit the telecommunications building in the western end of the city while another missed the target, landing just in front of a bus during morning rush hour.
Despite heavy damage to the bus, officials said no passengers had been killed.
The blasts broke windows out of residential buildings several hundred feet away and brought down power lines. The Dnipropetrovsk regional administration said 18 Russian rockets were fired at the region, five of which were taken down by air defense.
Mathematician Natalia Nesterenko saw a missile fly by her balcony as she was working in her kitchen before hearing two explosions.
“How can it happen with impunity that rockets are flying over civilian cities and buildings … and everyone is just watching? I don’t understand why it can’t be stopped,” she said. “Please close the sky over Ukraine.”
In an industrial area in the south of the city, Associated Press journalists saw at least three bodies covered with blankets near where a strike hit what appeared to be a commercial building.
BRUSSELS — The European Union joined an international chorus of criticism and condemnation following the Russian missile attacks across Ukraine early Monday.
“Russia once again has shown to the world what it stands for. It is terror and brutality,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “I know Ukrainians will not be intimidated. And Ukrainians know that we will stand by your side, their side as long as it takes.”
EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders had to be rushed to an underground shelter as he was visiting the Ukraine capital Kyiv to assess evidence of possible war crimes with local officials.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said such acts have “no place” in the 21st century.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola called the attacks “sickening. It shows the world, again, the regime we are faced with: One that targets indiscriminately. One that rains terror & death down on children.”
MOSCOW — Russian war bloggers and political commentators lauded Monday’s attacks but and argued that the strikes on energy infrastructure should incur lasting damage to Ukraine.
The hawkish Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, who has long pushed for ramping up strikes on Ukraine, said he is now “100 percent happy.” He taunted Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying “we warned you that Russia hasn’t even started it in earnest.”
Margarita Simonyan, the head of the state-funded RT television, cheered the strikes on her messaging app channel and said Ukraine had crossed a red line that by attacking the bridge to Crimea.
Andrei Kots, a war correspondent for Komsomolskaya Pravda, the top Russian tabloid, voiced hope that Monday’s strikes were “a new mode of action to the entire depth of the Ukrainian state until it loses its capacity to function.”
“It was just one massive attack on Ukraine’s infrastructure,” noted Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin Moscow-based political analyst. “The Russian public wants massive attacks and the full destruction of the infrastructure that could be used by the Ukrainian army.”
TALLINN, Estonia — Several thousand Russian troops will be stationed in Belarus, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced Monday.
Speaking at a meeting with defense and security officials, Lukashenko said Belarus will host the Russian soldiers. He did not give a specific number, but said they would not number a mere one thousand.
“Be prepared to take in these people in the nearest future and place them where necessary, in accordance to our plan,” Lukashenko told them.
Russia used the territory of Belarus as a staging ground to send troops into Ukraine. Moscow and Minsk have maintained close economic and military ties.
Ukrainian military analysts worry that the Belarusian military could invade Ukraine from the north in order to draw Kyiv’s forces from the east and south.
MOSCOW — A top Russian official said Monday that Moscow will try to oust Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government.
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, said that Russia, along with protecting its people and borders, should “aim for the complete dismantling of Ukraine’s political regime.”
He alleged that “the Ukrainian state in its current configuration with the Nazi political regime will continue to pose a permanent, direct and clear threat to Russia.”
Russia has repeatedly sought to cast the government of the Ukrainian president, who is Jewish, of Nazi inclinations, claims which have been mocked by Ukraine and its allies.
MOSCOW — Russia’s Defense Ministry said that strikes waged against Ukraine on Monday hit all the designated targets.
The ministry spokesman, Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the Russian military launched “massive strikes on military command and communication facilities and energy infrastructure of Ukraine.”
“The goals behind the strikes have been fulfilled, all the designated facilities have been struck,” he said. Konashenkov didn’t offer any details, and his statement couldn’t be independently confirmed.
BERLIN — Germany has condemned a barrage of Russian strikes on Ukrainian cities and promised help in repairing damage to civilian infrastructure.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, said the German leader assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of the solidarity of the Group of Seven industrial powers in a phone call on Monday.
He said that “Germany will do everything to mobilize additional help and, in particular, to help with the repair and rebuilding of damaged and destroyed civilian infrastructure, for example electricity and heating supplies.”
Germany currently chairs the G-7. Hebestreit said the group’s leaders will hold a video conference Tuesday on the situation, which Zelenskyy will join.
Germany said in June that it would provide IRIS-T air defense systems to Ukraine. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Monday that the first of four systems will be ready “in the coming days.”
She said Monday’s attacks underlined the importance of the quick delivery of air-defense systems.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said that a series of strikes Monday across Ukraine came in retaliation against the Ukrainian attack on a bridge to Crimea and other attacks in Russia that he described as “terrorist” actions.
Putin said the Russian military launched precision weapons from the air, sea and ground to target key energy and military command facilities.
He warned that if Ukraine continues to mount “terrorist attacks” on Russia, Moscow’s response will be “tough and proportionate to the level of threats.”
The intense, hours-long attack marked a sudden military escalation by Moscow. It came a day after Putin called the explosion Saturday on the huge bridge connecting Russia to its annexed territory of Crimea a “terrorist act” masterminded by Ukrainian special services.
The missile strikes across Ukraine marked the biggest and most widespread Russian attacks in months. Putin, whose partial mobilization order earlier this month triggered an exodus of hundreds of thousands of men of fighting age from Russia, stopped short of declaring martial law or a counter-terrorist operation as many expected.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to create a joint “regional grouping of troops,” but offered no details as to where or when such a grouping might be deployed.
Lukashenko’s statement follows his repeated claims that Ukraine is plotting an attack on Belarus. At a meeting with military and security officials on Monday, the Belarusian leader reiterated that “carrying out strikes on the territory of Belarus is not just being discussed, it is being planned in Ukraine.”
Lukashenko added that the Belarusian government was warned “through unofficial channels” about the alleged plans to attack.
In more than seven months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there has been no indication that Kyiv’s forces are planning an attack on Belarus.
Moldova’s deputy prime minster says three cruise missiles launched Monday morning from Russian ships in the Black Sea on Ukraine crossed Moldova’s airspace.
Nicu Popescu, who is also the minster of foreign affairs and European integration, said he had summoned the Russian ambassador for an explanation.
Moldova’s defense ministry said the three missiles crossed over the northern part of the country, and that they “posed a danger to the infrastructure (of Moldova) and, in particular, to civil aircraft flying over the country’s airspace.”
Moldova, a former Soviet republic which shares a border with Ukraine to the south, has been a strong supporter of Ukraine during the war.
Russian troops have occupied its breakaway Transnistria region since 1991, when the region fought a brief war for independence from Moldova with Moscow’s support.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces launched dozens of missiles and Iranian-built drones against Ukraine.
“They want panic and chaos. They want to destroy our energy system,” Zelenskyy said in a video address on Telegram.
He also said that Russia is “trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth.”
The General Staff of the Ukraine Armed Forces said 75 missiles were fired against Ukrainian targets, with 41 of them neutralized by air defenses.
Zelenskyy said that the attacks Monday morning were clearly timed to inflict the most damage.
KYIV, Ukraine — At least eight people were killed and 24 were injured in one of the strikes in Kyiv, said Rostyslav Smirnov, an advisor to the Ukrainian ministry of internal affairs.
Explosions on Monday rocked multiple cities across Ukraine, including missile strikes on the capital Kyiv for the first time in months.
The attacks came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin called a Saturday explosion on the huge bridge connecting Russia to its annexed territory of Crimea a “terrorist act” masterminded by Ukrainian special services.
DNIPRO, Ukraine — A telecommunications building was hit in the central city of Dnipro, one of several strikes that caused at least three deaths.
Bystanders said that two rockets hit the building in the western end of the city. A heavily damaged bus could be seen on the street in front of the building, which was strewn with rubble and broken glass.
Oleksandr Shuklin, a construction worker who was working on a site just adjacent to the strike, said he’d seen one person who had died and another that was taken away by ambulance with injuries. He said he believed the strikes across Ukraine on Monday were Russian retaliation for the explosion on the Kerch bridge on Saturday.
KYIV, Ukraine — Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko says that there are casualties and damage to several objects of critical infrastructure as a result of strikes on the Ukrainian capital on Monday.
The strikes on Kyiv injured several residents who were seen on the streets with blood on their clothes and hands. A young man wearing a blue jacket was sitting on the ground as a medic wrapped a bandage around his head.
A woman with bandages wrapped around her head had blood all over the front of her blouse. Several cars were also damaged or completely destroyed.
KHARKIV, Ukraine — The eastern city of Kharkiv was struck multiple times Monday morning, knocking out power in parts of the city.
Mayor Ihor Terekhov said that the energy infrastructure building was hit. There is no electricity and water in some of the districts of the city.
The strikes come two days after a series of explosions rocked the city on Saturday, sending towering plumes of illuminated smoke into the sky and triggering a series of secondary explosions.
KYIV, Ukraine — Multiple explosions rocked Kyiv early Monday following months of relative calm in the Ukrainian capital as other cities across Ukraine also came under attack.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported explosions in the city’s Shevchenko district, a large area in the center of Kyiv that includes the historic old town as well as several government offices.
Lesia Vasylenko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, posted a photo on Twitter showing that at least one explosion occurred near the main building of the Kyiv National University in central Kyiv.
The spokesperson for Emergency Service in Kyiv told the AP that there are killed and wounded people. Rescuers are now working in different locations, said Svitlana Vodolaga.
Ukrainian media reported explosions in a number of other locations, including the western city of Lviv that has been a refuge for many people fleeing the fighting in the east, as well as Ternopil, Khmelnytskyi, Zhytomyr and Kropyvnytskyi.
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