Missiles Rain Down Across Ukraine

Russia has launched dozens of missile strikes across Ukraine over the weekend, as the war rages on and major world leaders meet in Europe. Kyiv was among targeted cities, after enjoying weeks of relative peace. G7 leaders have agreed to impose further sanctions on Russia, and NATO is gearing up for a meeting later this week.

On Saturday, the Kremlin launched one of the most widespread and coordinated aerial assaults seen in weeks. Approximately 65 missiles were fired, launched from above Belarus to the north, to the Black Sea in the south.

Warplanes attacked Ukrainian positions near the city of Lysychansk, the last major stronghold in the Donbas region. Ukrainian forces withdrew from its sister city Sievierodonetsk on Friday, enabling Russian troops to assume full control the next day.

The fall of Sievierodonetsk is the most significant loss for Ukraine since Mariupol, and the fight for the city was a brutal one. Casualties have been steep on both sides, and about 90 percent of the city’s buildings have been destroyed. Once a city of 160 000, only 8 000 civilians now remain.

By the end of last week missiles rained indiscriminately down across the country. Even in regions of northern and western Ukraine, which have seen comparatively fewer air raids, sirens sounded over and over. On Monday afternoon in Lviv, air raid alarms rang out five times in 48 hours, signalling missiles within striking distance of the city.

After the worst of the air strikes on Saturday, missiles hit Kyiv the next day. Several missiles struck an apartment complex in one of the capital’s quietest suburbs on Sunday morning, killing at least one person. Many residents have returned to the city after a de-escalation of fighting around the capital.

Now, a young girl, pulled from the rubble to news of her father’s death. Her mother, a Russian citizen, is in the hospital with injuries. “It is like a nightmare,” one Kyiv resident said as she watched the apartment building burn. “When will it end?”

On the same day, bombs were dropped on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Kyiv’s mayor, called the strikes “symbolic aggression”, ahead of a NATO summit scheduled in Madrid this week.

Many experts agree the coordination of air raids seems meant as a message to Western leaders. Representatives of G7 met in Germany on Sunday, and agreed to stop buying gold from Moscow. Gold is Russia’s second-most valuable export after energy products, but the ban has been called ‘largely symbolic’ by some observers.

G7 leaders also discussed a new American proposal to undercut Russian oil revenues by placing a cap on Russian oil prices.

The Kremlin’s strikes didn’t stop with the new week, with at least 16 dead after an attack on a shopping centre in Kremenchuk on Monday. “This is just destruction of civilians,” the city’s deputy mayor said, “I have no words for this horror.”

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