Russia launches a second round of missiles against Ukrainian cities on Tuesday. The attacks came one day after widespread strikes killed at least 19 people. The strikes Monday also wounded more than 100 people and damaged power lines.
The United Nations human rights office described the attacks as “particularly shocking,” saying that they could be war crimes.
Air raid warnings extended throughout Ukraine. People hurried back into shelters after months of calm in Kyiv and many other cities. “It brings anger, not fear,” Volodymyr Vasylenko of Kyiv said as workers repaired traffic lights and cleared wreckage from the city’s streets. “We already got used to this. And we will keep fighting.”
Tuesday's missile strikes struck both power plants and civilian areas, just as Monday’s attacks did. One person was killed when 12 missiles hit the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, setting off a large fire, the State Emergency Service said. A local official said the missiles hit a school, housing and medical buildings.
Missiles struck energy plants in the western Lviv and the Vinnytsia areas. Officials said Ukrainian forces shot down a Russian missile before it reached Kyiv. But, the capital city only had limited power following Monday’s deadly strikes.
The State Emergency Service said 19 people died and 105 people were wounded in Monday’s strikes. At least five of the victims were in Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said. More than 300 cities and towns lost power, from the capital to Lviv on the border with Poland.
On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden and other Group of Seven (G-7) leaders met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by video link.
The Ukrainian leader asked for air defense systems, which he has called his "number 1 priority.” Zelenskyy urged the G-7 leaders to hit Russia’s energy industry with tougher sanctions. He added: “There can be no dialogue with this leader of Russia, who has no future.”
The G-7 leaders condemned the bombardment, saying “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilian populations constitute a war crime.” They also promised that they would “stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Fear of rising tensions
Russia’s missile attacks came after a weekend explosion that damaged a bridge linking Russia to the Crimean Peninsula. Russia annexed the area from Ukraine in 2014.
A spokesperson for the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday that strikes on “civilian objects,” including structures such as power plants, could qualify as a war crime. Ravina Shamdasani told reporters at a U.N. briefing in Geneva, “Attacks targeting civilians and objects indispensable to the survival of civilians are prohibited under international humanitarian law.”
In Moscow, Russian officials, nationalist supporters and state media celebrated the missile strikes. They argued that the attack was fitting and answered Ukrainian battlefield successes and the explosion on the bridge.
Russian lawmaker Sergei Mironov wrote on Twitter, “It is time for fighting! Fiercely, even cruelly. Without looking back at whatever censures from the West.” And Chechnyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov said he was now “100 percent happy” with the Russian operations in Ukraine. Kadyrov was among those who called for strong measures including the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.
Ukrainian forces have been increasingly successful in counteroffensive attacks. But, western nations are fearful that Russia might use chemical or nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Last week, Biden said, “First time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have a direct threat of the use (of a) nuclear weapon if in fact, things continue down the path they are going.” But the Biden administration added that the U.S. has not seen any change in the Russian nuclear position.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke about the issue Tuesday. He said on state television that Russia would only use nuclear weapons “to prevent the destruction of the Russian Federation.” He also accused the West of spreading false information about Russia’s goals.
In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance would hold long-planned exercises next week to test the state of readiness of its nuclear forces.
The exercise, named “Steadfast Noon,” is held yearly. It involves fighter jets able of carrying nuclear warheads but does not involve real nuclear weapons.
Asked whether it was the wrong time for such an exercise, Stoltenberg replied: “It would send a very wrong signal now, if we suddenly canceled a routine, long-time planned exercise because of the war in Ukraine.”
Stoltenberg added that “Russia knows that a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Hai Do adapted this story for VOA Learning English from Associated Press and Reuters reports.
Words in This Story
sanctions –n. (pl.) actions taken to punish a country to make it obey international law, usually in the form of economic restrictions
dialogue –n. discussions between two groups aimed at ending a disagreement
indiscriminate –adj. affecting or harming many people in a careless or unfair way
constitute –v. to be the same as something; to be equivalent to something
indispensable –adj. necessary; cannot be done without
censure –v. to officially criticize someone or something
routine –n. something that happens regularly; not unusual
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