Russia unleashed one of its largest missile barrages to date at Ukraine today, leaving the country’s energy network ‘critical’ with rolling blackouts.
More than 100 rockets were fired at cities across the country, hitting civilian buildings and power stations, the Ukrainian air force said.
The bombardment left half of Kyiv, where at least one civilian died, and the whole city of Zhytomyr without power.
Strikes were also reported in Lviv, which was said to be in a partial blackout, with Kharkiv, Vinnytsia, Rivne, Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, Chernihiv, Khmelnytskyi, and Ivano-Frankivsk also targeted – though the situation in those cities was less clear.
It came just hours after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky – speaking via videolink from Kyiv – told world leaders at the G20 Bali summit that he is ready to end the war provided Russia withdraws its troops from areas it currently occupies.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov – speaking later at the summit in Indonesia – accused the West of waging ‘hybrid war’ in Ukraine and Kyiv of ‘prolonging’ the conflict, without mentioning Russia’s own involvement in the fighting.
At least three Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Tuesday, with mayor Vitali Klitschko saying they all struck residential buildings
Firefighters work to put out a fire in a residential building hit by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv
Russian stooges quit another Ukrainian city
Russian occupation authorities in Nova Kakhovka in Ukraine’s Kherson region said Tuesday they had left the city, following Moscow’s retreat from the regional capital, because they were under fire from Ukrainian forces.
‘Employees of the state administration of Nova Kakhovka, as well as state and municipal institutions have left the city and were relocated to safe locations in the region,’ the Moscow-installed authorities said on Telegram.
Nova Kakhovka is on the left bank of the Dnipro River, around 60 kilometres north-east of Kherson, from which Russian troops retreated from last week.
The Russian-backed officials said that after Moscow’s pull-out from Kherson, Nova Kakhovka came under ‘indiscriminate fire’ from the Ukrainian army and that ‘life in the city is unsafe.’
It also claimed that ‘thousands of residents’ had followed their recommendation to leave the city to ‘save themselves’, saying Kyiv’s forces will seek ‘revenge on collaborators.’
The authorities claimed that this did not mean that the city was ‘abandoned’ and that ‘crews of municipal workers’ were working to ensure the ‘functioning of energy and water supply systems.’
The city lies near the huge Kakhovka hydroelectric dam, captured by Russian forces at the start of their offensive as a strategic facility that supplies Moscow-annexed Crimea.
‘There is an attack on the capital. According to preliminary information, two residential buildings were hit in the Pechersk district,’ Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
‘Several missiles were shot down over Kyiv by air defence systems. Medics and rescuers are at the scene of the strikes.’
Moments later, he added: ‘Another hit in the Pechersk district. Multi-storey building.’
Andriy Yermak, head of Zelensky’s staff, said the attack was a response to the president addressing the G20 – ramping up pressure on Russia to stop its attacks.
‘Does anyone seriously think that the Kremlin really wants peace? It wants obedience. But at the end of the day, terrorists always lose,’ Yermak said.
Russian forces have in recent weeks been targeting energy infrastructure across Ukraine and has launched barrages of missiles and swarms of drones.
Around a third of Ukraine’s power-generating capacity has been taken out, causing rolling blackouts across the country just as winter hits.
Kyiv was last targeted by Russian forces nearly one month ago on October 17.
Russia faced mounting diplomatic pressure Tuesday to end its war in Ukraine, as G20 allies and critics alike rued the painful global impact of nearly nine months of conflict.
A draft communique obtained by AFP showed the world’s 20 leading economies coming together to condemn the war’s effects, but still divided on apportioning blame.
The summit has shown that even Russia’s allies have limited patience with a conflict that has inflated food and energy prices worldwide and raised the spectre of nuclear war.
Risking diplomatic isolation, Russia was forced to agree that the war in Ukraine – which Moscow refuses to call a war – has ‘adversely impacted the global economy’.
It also agreed that ‘the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons’ is ‘inadmissible’, after months of its president Vladimir Putin making such threats.
Firefighters work at the scene of a missile attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, which was struck by Russian rockets hours after President Zelensky spoke at the G20
Firefighters work to put out a fire in a residential building hit by a Russian missile strike, amid attacks on Ukraine
President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the G20 just hours before the missiles hit, calling on Russia to end its invasion of his country
The embattled Russian leader has skipped the summit, staying at home to reckon with a string of embarrassing battlefield defeats and a grinding campaign that threatens the future of his regime.
Rubbing salt in Russia’s wounds, Zelensky – fresh from a visit to liberated Kherson – delivered an impassioned video appeal to G20 leaders.
He said they could ‘save thousands of lives’ by pressing for a Russian withdrawal.
‘I am convinced now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped,’ he said, sporting his trademark army-green T-shirt.
Putin’s delegate Lavrov, whose summit preparation was disrupted by two hospital health checks for an undiagnosed ailment, remained in the room throughout Zelensky’s address, diplomatic sources said.
His most notable diplomatic victory was an acknowledgement in the communique that while ‘most members’ of the G20 condemned Putin’s invasion, ‘there were other views and different assessments’.
Leaders must now sign off on the final text before the summit ends on Wednesday.
‘All problems are with the Ukrainian side, which is categorically refusing negotiations and putting forward conditions that are obviously unrealistic,’ Lavrov told reporters.
The foreign minister had a dinner with leaders before departing on Tuesday.
The United States and its allies used the summit to broaden the coalition against Russia’s invasion and scotch Moscow’s claims of a conflict of East versus West.
Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister attending the G20 instead of Putin, insisted that the West is the one waging war in Ukraine and accused Kyiv of ‘dragging out’ the conflict
Many ‘see Russia’s war in Ukraine as the root source of immense economic and humanitarian suffering in the world’, said a senior US official.
Russia’s G20 allies China, India and South Africa refrain from publicly criticising its war, and the draft statement is replete with diplomatic fudges and linguistic gymnastics.
But it gives a growing sense of the worldwide impact of the conflict.
G20 members Argentina and Turkey are among the nations worst hit by food inflation worldwide, but there was scarcely a country around the table unaffected.
‘The war is affecting everyone,’ said Argentine foreign minister Santiago Cafiero.
‘In the northern hemisphere the merchants of death broker lethal arms sales, but in the southern hemisphere food is costly or scarce – what kills are not bullets or missiles, but poverty and hunger.’
There was also a hint at growing Chinese unease with Russia’s prosecution of the war when Xi Jinping and US president Joe Biden met late on Monday.
‘It’s clear that the Russians are very isolated,’ said one Western official. ‘I think some countries engaged with Russia but… I did not see any gestures of great solidarity.’