Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russian forces shelled Ukraine with a fresh barrage of missiles and ammunition-carrying drones on Tuesday, a day later widespread strikes killed at least 19 people in an attack the UN Human Rights Office described as “particularly shocking” and which could amount to a war crime.
Air raid alert across the country in the morningto send some residents back to shelters after months of relative calm in Kyiv and many other cities. The earlier lull had caused many Ukrainians to ignore regular sirens, but Monday’s attacks in the capital and 12 other regions gave them renewed urgency.
“It brings anger, not fear,” said Kyiv’s Volodymyr Vasylenko, 67, as crews worked to restore traffic lights and clear debris from the city’s streets. “We’ve gotten used to that. And we will keep fighting.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was scheduled to address the leaders of the Group of Seven Industrial Powers via video conference on Tuesday. Germany, which currently chairs the G-7, announced the meeting following simultaneous strikes across Ukraine on Monday.
Tuesday’s bombardment hit both power plants and civilian areas, as did Monday’s attacks. One person was killed when 12 rockets slammed into public facilities in the southern city of Zaporizhia, sparking a large fire, the state emergency services said. A local official said the rockets hit a school, residential buildings and medical facilities.
Power plants in the western regions of Lviv and Vinnitsia were also hit. Although officials said Ukrainian forces shot down an incoming Russian missile before it reached Kyiv, the capital region experienced sustained power outages as a result of the previous day’s deadly strikes.
The governor of the Mykolaiv region, Vitaliy Kim, urged residents to stay in bomb shelters as “there are still enough missiles in the air”.
According to the state emergency services, Monday’s strikes killed 19 people and injured 105. At least five of the victims were in Kyiv, said Mayor Vitali Klitschko. More than 300 towns and communities lost electricity, from the capital to Lviv on the border with Poland.
Along with the usual sirens, a new type of loud alarm, sounded automatically from cellphones, jolted residents of Kyiv early Tuesday. An SMS warning of possible missile attacks accompanied the caustic-sounding alarm.
Russia’s Widespread Attacks came in retaliation for a weekend blast that damaged a bridge connecting Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
A spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday that attacks on “civilian objects”, including infrastructure such as power plants, could be considered war crimes.
“Damage to key power plants and lines ahead of the approaching winter raises further concerns about the protection of civilians and particularly the impact on vulnerable populations,” Ravina Shamdasani told reporters at a UN briefing in Geneva. “Attacks on civilians and objects essential to the survival of civilians are prohibited under international humanitarian law.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was scheduled to address the leaders of the Group of Seven Industrial Powers via video conference on Tuesday. Germany, which currently chairs the G-7, announced the meeting following Monday’s rocket attacks.
As Ukrainian forces grew bolder after a series of counteroffensive successes, a cornered Kremlin last month escalated Cold War-era rhetoric and stoked concerns it might resort to using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov raised the issue on Tuesday, saying Moscow will only resort to it if the Russian state is on the brink of destruction. On state television, he accused the West of promoting false speculation about the Kremlin’s intentions.
Russia’s nuclear doctrine provides “exclusively for retaliatory measures aimed at preventing the destruction of the Russian Federation through direct nuclear attacks or the use of other weapons that threaten the very existence of the Russian state,” Lavrov said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels the 30-nation military alliance will hold scheduled drills next week to test the readiness of its nuclear capabilities.
The exercise, called Steadfast Noon, takes place annually. These are fighter jets that can carry nuclear warheads but no live bombs. Conventional jets, as well as surveillance and refueling aircraft, routinely participate.
When asked if it was the wrong time for such an exercise, Stoltenberg replied: “It would send the wrong signal if we suddenly canceled a routine, long-planned exercise because of the war in Ukraine.”
Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear rhetoric about the war in Ukraine was “irresponsible,” and he said that “Russia knows that a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”
NATO as an organization has no nuclear weapons. They remain under the control of three member countries – the US, UK and France.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Tuesday warned against Western military aid to Kyiv, including Training of Ukrainian soldiers in NATO countries and the injection of real-time satellite data into Ukraine to attack Russian forces has “increasingly drawn Western nations into the conflict at the hands of the Kiev regime.”
Ryabkov, in a remark provided by the state news agency RIA-Novosti, said that “Russia will be forced to take relevant countermeasures, including asymmetric ones. He said that while Russia is “not interested in a direct clash” with the US and NATO, “we hope Washington and other Western capitals are aware of the danger of an uncontrollable escalation.”
Ryabkov’s warning followed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who announced that he and Putin had agreed to form a joint “regional grouping of troops” to thwart a possible Ukrainian attack on Belarus that Lukashenko had claimed.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Army said on Tuesday it had seen no evidence of troop movements or offensive force build-ups in Belarus, but warned that Russia could continue to launch missile attacks on “peaceful neighborhoods” and critical infrastructure in Ukraine.
“The enemy is unable to stop the successful counter-offensive of the Defense Forces in the direction of Kharkiv and Kherson, so they are trying to intimidate the people of Ukraine and sow panic,” the military general staff said.
One use for the joint force could be to pin down some Ukrainian troops near Kyiv to defend the capital and prevent them from being deployed to more active fronts where they can advance their counteroffensive, the Washington-based source said Institute for War Studies.
Although Ukrainian officials said Russia’s rocket attacks on Monday made no “practical military sense,” Putin said the attacks were payback for what he described as “terrorist” actions by Kiev while defending against Moscow’s invasion.
Putin blamed Saturday’s attack on one the bridge Kerch Bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula headed by Ukrainian special services. He promised a “tough” and “appropriate” response should further Ukrainian attacks threaten Russia’s security.
Putin’s increasingly frequent descriptions of Ukraine’s actions as terrorism may portend bolder and more draconian actions. The speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament on Tuesday compared Zelenskyy to the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. He also said that Western politicians who support Ukraine “are effectively sponsoring terrorism” and “there can be no talks with terrorists.”
Zelenskyy has repeatedly called on world leaders to declare Russia a terrorist state over its attacks on civilians and alleged war crimes.
(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.)
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